Vinod Rai's ‘Not Just A Nightwatchman’ is record of a turbulent time : The Tribune India

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Vinod Rai's ‘Not Just A Nightwatchman’ is record of a turbulent time

Vinod Rai's ‘Not Just A Nightwatchman’ is record of a turbulent time

Not Just A Nightwatchman by Vinod Rai. Rupa. Pages 221. Rs 595

Book Title: Not Just A Nightwatchman

Author: Vinod Rai

Rohit Mahajan

PRINCES and princelings of India, wishing to squirm and edge closer to the head of the table where the British representatives to India sat, adopted British ways, including sport. After 1947, they occupied the prime position of leadership in cricket. Over time, they, too, had to go — the new elite, empowered by business opportunities or electoral politics, took the reins. They quickly proved that they were no different from the British or the princes — once they got hold of power, they just didn’t want to let go. They subverted the democratic process of cricket associations by controlling the lists of the voters. They turned top positions into inheritance, to be handed over to a son, daughter, brother or lackey. The purpose of election — to remove the divine right to rule — was defeated. The current administrators are as democratic as the British or the princes.

Imagine, then, the affront the entrenched administrators felt when they were simply chucked out by the Supreme Court on the recommendations of the Lodha Committee. The Lodha Committee was mandated by the SC to work out ways to reform the administration of cricket in India, after the BCCI brushed the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal under the carpet.

Vinod Rai, the former comptroller and auditor general of India, was appointed by the SC to head a four-member committee to govern Indian cricket in early 2017. Rai had then described himself, in cricketing terms, as a ‘temporary nightwatchman’ in the BCCI, but this book shows him as a prime batsman trying to bat on a pitch doctored by the disqualified officials or their henchmen. As a civil servant, he had worked with politicians all his life, yet his experience at the BCCI left him aghast. He shows them up as unreliable, incompetent, dishonest, manipulative and, above all, fearless of the Supreme Court.

This book has been promoted with the juicy Anil Kumble vs Virat Kohli story, but he also details the conflict within the ICC over the Big Four revenue-sharing model, the legal fight with the Pakistan Cricket Board, Mithali Raj’s clash with coach Ramesh Powar, controversy over land for the NCA in Bengaluru or ‘misogynist’ comments by KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya, and more.

Rai’s interactions with officials are revealing — he came away with the conclusion that the bane of the BCCI is ‘its experienced and permanently ensconced honorary administrators’.

Rai was an outsider, para-dropped into the BCCI for a time, with no long-term aspiration. Such men are dangerous, for they will put on record incidents and things that a ‘normal’ insider — with perhaps a jobless son to be pushed up in the cricket administration — will not. This makes Rai’s book important — a record of a tumultuous period in the BCCI.