THE formal election of Sourav Ganguly as president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) restores what may loosely be referred to as democracy in Indian cricket. For the past 33 months, the BCCI had been run by a Committee of Administrators (CoA) appointed by the Supreme Court, with a mandate to cleanse and reform the board, as recommended by the Lodha Committee. The latter had set the bar high. The bar was too high for the incumbent BCCI leadership, which comprised politicians and their henchmen, businessmen and wheeler-dealers. The Lodha Committee envisaged a day when cricket would be run by cricketers. This ideal didn’t suit the incumbent leadership. The task of the CoA, thus, was made immeasurably difficult, especially since the apex court itself diluted the Lodha panel’s recommendations.
Despite the opposition from the old guard, the CoA did achieve significant wins, the foremost being the formation of a cricketers’ association. Over 1,200 former First-Class players are now part of the Indian Cricketers’ Association, and the number should rapidly increase over time. Representatives of ex-players are now part of the BCCI and its state units. The CoA also managed to arm-twist most state units to change their constitutions, making them compliant with the Lodha Committee’s recommendations. This turned out to be an arduous task, for some state units tried every trick in the book to deceive or thwart the CoA, and a few remain defiant. Finally, due to the CoA’s efforts, the BCCI now appreciates the concept of gender equality and India’s former woman cricketers have a voice in how the sport should be run.
Alas, the old guard hasn’t quite gone away — the entrenched power-brokers have managed to get their kin and chamchas installed in the BCCI and the state units. They have tasted power, and they won’t let go of it without a mortal struggle. But Ganguly’s election as the BCCI’s president gives rise to the hope that once cricketers too taste power, they will unite and ensure that the sport’s administration becomes their exclusive domain. Despite occasional differences among its members — especially its chief Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji — the CoA did its job well. It cannot be blamed for its failure in changing the mindset of the old guard.
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