The BCCI’s AGM in Mumbai tomorrow (Monday) has been the subject of much public discussion - a fact that’s hardly surprising given its importance for the future of Indian cricket.
The conjecture surrounding appointments to key positions has focused on the individuals who are apparently concerned, but as soon as the decisions have been confirmed, the focus must turn to what these people are actually going to do.
Indian cricket is in a mess. Appointments purely for the sake of regulation and compliance are all well and good, but there’s clearly plenty of work to do and anyone who revels in their new-found status at the expense of the job in hand will be doing the game in India and its supporters, a grave disservice.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen various examples of the BCCI in crisis. As recently as Thursday, it was reported that the BCCI had reduced the base price for internet and mobile rights for international and domestic matches for the next three years by as much as 33% (livemint.com & The Wall Street Journal) because they failed to attract a single bidder at the original reserve price the first time round. This information was provided by: ... “a senior BCCI official who did not want to be named.” I bet he didn’t!
One of the reasons stated for this lack of interest doesn’t take too long to work out. India’s dismal showing in England this summer has robustly removed the gloss from the World Cup success earlier in the year and the new administration will need to lead from the front when it comes to the repair work. They’ll also need to do a better sales job.
The delicate issue of the return to matches with Pakistan is another which will be high on the agenda. This is a tricky one for people who crave (should that be demand?) the respect of everyone they touch because any announcement will meet with disapproval from one or other camp. Its an area where you won’t please all of the people, all of the time and strong decision-making is required. I hope the new appointees are up for the challenge.
Elsewhere, there have been continuing signs of a bungling public relations approach with the terse ‘no comment’ response to the team’s no-show at last week’s ICC Awards night in London providing further embarrassment. The only excuse they offered was that they hadn’t received the invitation until the day of the event, even though the ICC confirmed it had been extended in August.
It was the second time the touring party had failed to appear at an official function during their stay in England. I’m sure you’ll remember their failure to attend a mandatory function held by the Indian High Commissioner in London in July? The absence was referred to the Ministry of External Affairs and the event had to be abandoned. BCCI Secretary N. Srinivasan (soon to become Chairman, apparently) mumbled that ‘dates were changed’ and, according to one report, ‘seemed to maintain the BCCI was not to blame, before abruptly disconnecting the phone.’
I’m sure the obvious connection between the two incidents is pure coincidence..
So there is much at stake in Mumbai this week. Its undeniable that status comes with High Office, but so does responsibility. Its a premise I’ve been attempting to get the BCCI to acknowledge for the last 18 months and last week with their admission to a Parliamentary Committee that they were always aware of my actions on their behalf, I finally managed to do so. [see my blog here] So I hope those who are appointed in Mumbai this week, fully understand that their elevation is not just about the glamour and status of office. If it takes another 18 months to understand that, Indian cricket is in for a very bumpy ride.