COLUMN : J U ST S P O R T
By Veturi Srivatsa*
The Indian cricket board has allowed an easily curable infection to linger on and now it is being threatened with gangrene.
The one man responsible for bringing disrepute to it is Narayanaswamy Srinivasan. For once, his chief astrologer seems to have failed to give him the right advice.
The developments have also shown that the board bigwigs are clay-footed. Like rats, the senior officials have started abandoning the sinking ship unless their statements distancing themselves is also a Srinivasan ploy to mislead the Supreme Court.
Things would not have come to this pass had the board members forced Srinivasan to quit the moment his son-in-law’s name cropped up in the betting and spot-fixing case the Mumbai police unearthed during the sixth edition of the Indian Premer League last year.
It was elementary that Gurunath Meiyappan was no toddler to be going round the cricket world holding his father-in-law’s finger.
The problem with the board members is that they think they are there forever and only the office-bearers are shuffled around among themselves, whoever is the president.
Srinivasan has a large retinue of legal brains and a look at the legal expenses incurred by the board will give one an idea how the board revels in litigation. It is perennially fighting cases.
He is also rattled by the reported discomfiture of India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni for finding his name being dragged into the controversy after Harish Salve, the counsel for the Bihar Cricket Association, accused him of giving false statements to the Justice Mukul Mudgal Probe Committee on Meiyappan’s role in the Chennai Super Kings.
Dhoni wants to sever all his ties with Srinivasan, his team Chennai Super Kings and his company India Cements where he is a vice president.
The board had either tyrants as presidents who thought they will rule forever or they happen to be someone like the late Raj Singh Dungarpur or non-descript docile A.C. Muthiah, who was denied a third year as chief by a scheming Jagmohan Dalmiya.
Both the kinds suited the careerist officials of the state associations who are happy minding their fiefdoms hanging on to the coat tails of politicians who get high in the company of status symbols Gavaskars, Kapil Devs, Tendulkars and Dhonis.
At the bottom line, is Gavaskar really the ideal man to head the board?
After all, he is someone who has constantly defied its authority as a player and captain. When it was pointed out to him that he should not write his syndicated column as a player/captain, he was quick to point out at a team meeting that he cannot stop thinking of money and if he does he would stagnate in life.
Poor Dilip Vengsarkar was fined for the same offence, writing a column as captain and lost his job. Surprisingly, the board never showed courage to even admonish him let alone punish him.
Gavaskar is also the man who excused himself from becoming the coach of the Indian team after briefly holding the baby when Ajit Wadekar was suddenly stricken by an heart ailment in Sharjah.
He was the longest serving chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket Committee and after eight years he quit, saying his position is incompatible with his media commitments!
Gavaskar has once again made it clear that he would weigh his commitments with the role he has to play as interim board chief. Unfortunately, the board job only entitles him to perks – not the fat salary he now draws as a board-employed TV expert.
His track record does not mean that the court has erred or that he is not qualified to head the board as stop-gap arrangement. One may not agree with some of his calculated assertions, for instance his calling for the sack of coach Duncan Fletcher, giving him a poor rating, but his credentials to head the board are not in question.
Gavaskar, as interim board chief, has the advantage of knowing something about the Indian Premier League (IPL) as he was a member of its Governing Council, getting paid for his services.
He was a votary of the IPL and all its strapping, perhaps, because he has never criticised any of its unsavoury offshoots. The question is will he effect large-scale changes, taking Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee’s recommendations?
Come to think of it, why didn’t the court think of Mudgal as interim chief. He now knows about all the ills of the cricketing extravaganza, having probed them.
*Veturi Srivatsa is IANS Sports Editor and the comments are his personal. He can be contacted at [email protected]