18 May 2024 last updated at 10:26 GMT
LKM Blogs
Interesting Week for World Cricket
Lalit K Modi

This past week has been an interesting one for world cricket.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has just headhunted a highly-rated cricketer turned administrator as their new Managing Director in Waseem Khan. A highly-respected figure in English cricket, Khan, was also tipped for other roles in England too.

The buzzword in Pakistan cricket and indeed world cricket has always been about corporate governance in sport. The whole concept is to have a professional, transparent system which runs on processes rather than on personalities. In Australia, they have undergone several changes in the system after thorough reviews of the whole body. New Zealand, England, West Indies and most other cricket boards have changed with times.

Guess which is the only board not to change with time? No prizes for guessing, it is but our very own BCCI.

The Indian cricket board was earlier managed as personal fiefdoms of princes, zamindars, then politicians and later businessmen. Now after the Supreme Court intervened the system is currently being controlled by an Auditor, followed by an individual reputed to be BCCI’s first CEO, Rahul Johri.

It is indeed an exciting and interesting combination because what it has done is brought in more of the same only packaged in a new container.

Look at this case centring around the #MeToo case surrounding Johri. It all started with a tweet from an anonymous handle, then was followed by a couple of other allegations. Now in normal circumstances, this would have meant a larger reaction and a major embarrassment for the company concerned. But this is the BCCI, it is untouched by the demands of personal propriety and integrity.

What followed was a sham of the highest order, an inquiry panel was set up, with what seemed like a whitewash in mind. The plan was to wipe out the claims and provide a clean chit to Johri. The panel was given an extension, some witnesses did not turn up for giving evidence. Lo and behold at the end of it all, the committee came up with an assessment that is still hard to believe. It was not a unanimous decision and ended with one of the panellists suggesting that Johri needs to undergo gender sensitivity training! Yet the very next day the man in question is back in office.

It is simply unbelievable that something like this was allowed to happen with little or no check on the findings.

World over we have seen that the effect of the #Metoo cases have been resignations, dismissals from the position of power and generally a step away from the accused individual. Starting with the Hollywood powerbroker Harvey Weinstein to our own Indian Minister MJ Akbar, almost everyone has had to step down or have suffered substantial personal losses.

But what we got from the BCCI was a complete sham. It is a tragedy of gigantic proportions that there is no oversight of a powerful Board of Directors to make Johri accountable for his actions. While the rest of the world has moved in the direction of professionalism and transparency, we are sliding slowly back into the era of the iron curtain defined by the Soviet Union.

If Indian cricket must achieve its real potential, there is an urgent need to reform and then perform accordingly. The BCCI needs a Board of Directors made up of the best minds from the corporate world who can advise, guide and further the interests of Indian cricket. These minds can together come on one platform and take punitive actions on issues like the ones Johri is accused of. With little or no check, Johri has now become the power centre almost by default. Organisations need to be run by systems not by individuals.

That is also evident in the way contracts and proposals are handled by the BCCI. The due processes are not being followed and valid candidates are being ignored. When was the last time a Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued and the interested parties asked to bid?

Take the case of the photography services for BCCI. It is learnt that a South African company is handling the contract while ignoring the claims of several qualified Indian agencies. Just why would you do that? Is there a comparison in the services provided rather on the quality of it? Has any study been done on the comparison of services?

Similarly, is the case with the web developer of BCCI. Why would you need to pay millions of dollars to an overseas company, when we have the best technology companies right there in India? It really beats me to think that money which really belongs to the Indian fan is being spent like water. The money that is being paid to these foreign companies should instead be handed out to improving facilities for the end consumer.

People might argue that the International Management Group (IMG) is also an overseas company and manages the IPL. I am the first to say that it could well be time to look beyond them, develop and groom a new set of young Indians to manage the IPL. That is the only way to improve.

South Korea used Seoul 1988 Olympics to kick off a technology revolution. We in India can do that and more if we buy into the vision of our honourable Prime Minister of Make in India.



Lalit Kumar Modi


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