BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke had emailed the Lodha Committee last week seeking directions © AFP
The BCCI fears its daily operations might come to a standstill if the Lodha Committee does not respond immediately to an email sent by board secretary Ajay Shirke last week seeking directions from the committee on how to proceed in the wake of the October 21 Supreme Court order.
Without the committee’s consent, the BCCI cannot take important decisions that include: signing of the memorandum of understanding with the ECB for the bilateral series starting on November 9, setting a new date for the IPL media rights tender which was postponed last Tuesday, and determining the threshold value for any financial transaction of the board relating to future contracts (the Lodha Committee was asked by the Supreme Court to set the threshold value, and all contracts in excess of that amount would need the committee’s approval).
In its interim orders, passed on October 17 and then 21, the court had categorically put clamps on the BCCI releasing any funds to the states unless they submitted an affidavit saying they would adopt all the recommendations of the Lodha Committee. The court had also asked the committee to appoint an auditor, who would oversee all the contracts the BCCI had got into since the July 18 order which made it mandatory for both BCCI and the state associations to subscribe to the committee’s recommendations.
Despite the BCCI raising this matter of the email now, it should be aware that the committee had already made it clear last week that the ball is in fact in the board’s court. The committee had written to Shirke on October 24 saying that BCCI president Anurag Thakur needs to give an undertaking “on behalf of the BCCI to unreservedly comply” with the court’s October 21 order. The BCCI had also asked both Shrike and Thakur to meet to the committee within two weeks from the date of the order. The board has been quiet on that front, as to whether Thakur would submit the affidavit and whether he and Shirke will be meeting the committee this week.
“We sent the letter detailing a lot of day-to-day stuff we need to do. If you don’t get a clarification quickly the operations can come to a standstill,” a senior BCCI official said. “Since the court has appointed the committee as the custodian, we have asked it to advise us or take the decisions [itself].”
The committee had not responded till Monday evening, the official said. No one from the committee was available for a comment. An explanation offered by RM Lodha, the chairman of the committee, in the past was that the court’s orders have never come in the way of all the existing contracts the BCCI has entered into, neither have they disrupted the various match schedules of the board.
The BCCI official did not agree with that viewpoint in this instance. He said despite the longstanding courtroom battles, the BCCI’s daily operations were never disrupted till the October 21 court order. “Now when you stop all contracts, then our day-to-day commercial contracts comes to a halt. For everything we have to take reference from them.”
According to the official, a pressing concern was the releasing of funds to all the state associations that will be hosting the England series as well as the ongoing the Ranji Trophy and age-group tournaments. England begin their five-Test series in Rajkot on November 9. They will then return post-Christmas for a limited-overs series. In the new year, India play a one-off Test against Bangladesh and a four-Test series against Australian in February-March.
The whole episode concerning the Indian board and the Lodha Committee stems from the IPL 2013 fixing scandal. The court had initially appointed the Lodha Committee to determine appropriate punishments for those involved, and propose changes to the BCCI’s functioning to ensure best practices. In July the court accepted the majority of the committee’s recommendations, covering wide-ranging aspects of Indian cricket at the central and state level, making it binding on the BCCI to implement them. The BCCI has since questioned the benefits of some of these reforms – particularly the “one state, one vote” policy, the age cap on board officials, and the cap and cooling off periods on their terms in office – and missed some deadlines for their implementation, prompting the committee and the court to pursue the matter further.
Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.