Indian batting legend and a former captain of the national side Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, has expressed concern and dismay at the manner in which the BCCI is projecting itself on the cricketing world. Pataudi is of the opinion, which would probably find resonance among many quarters in the cricket fraternity, that the BCCI is squandering away all the goodwill it earned over the decades of it existence. He adds that it is high time that the board backs its financial power with moral leadership.
"The ICC may well be the voice of cricket; the BCCI is an invoice," Pataudi said in New Delhi at an event celebrating the 75th birthday of former board boss Raj Singh Dungarpur. "We would like to see a more proactive, more eloquent and a more constructive BCCI in world matters. It is of course a democratically elected body and we are fine with that. But it keeps its doors very closed."
In recent years the board has not been very co-operative with the International Cricket Council (ICC) or the Asian Cricket Council (ACC). Eventhough, the board under the leadership of former president Sharad Pawar, had made a pitch for cricket to be included in the Asian Games, it did not send an Indian outfit for the inaugural cricket tournament of the Games held last month.
Even domestically, the board has thrown its weight around. For instance, it shut out the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL) from almost all cricket stadiums in the country, effectively ensuring that the minor league would not survive after its opening season. It has also targeted certain international players like Shane Bond for signing with the ICL, by demanding that the New Zealand cricket board refrain from fielding him in the home-side. That move effectively ended Bond's career and led him him to express in his autobiography, that he was a "victim of politics".
Bond will certainly second Pataudi's opinion. After all, Bond once stated, "The rich profits earned by the IPL should reach the other cricketing boards too. It is important that the BCCI shares a portion of money with all other boards so that those boards can use it to develop more players."
Pataudi also oberved that the BCCI was being too bossy, clumsy and headstrong in dealing with its current IPL legal disputes and controversies. He said, "Today the BCCI is facing a crisis. It has got involved in the complexity and the complications of the IPL and the debris left behind by Lalit Modi. The world is watching how well it can climb out of this mess."
Pataudi had declined an offetr to be part of the IPL governing council this Oct after it was reconstituted by the BCCI, which made memberships honorary as opposed to being salary-based.
According to Pataudi, the BCCI is being oblivious to the illegal betting going on in the country. He has called for more stringent laws pertaining to betting and a proper scrutiny of all bookmakers. "Everybody said the money [in the spot-fixing allegations] emanated from India. That is an accusation that hurts but it rings true, especially for those of us who live in this country and have been reading about the scams that have been taking place in the last few days and weeks," he said.
British-based bookmaker Mazhar Majeed, who is at the heart of the spot-fixing scandal involving Pakistani cricketers, claims to have links with Indian bookies. Former South African captain, the late Hansie Cronje, had informed the King Commission in 2000 that he had received money from Indian bookmakers for information on team selection and performance forecasts.
There have been a lot of voices raised towards legalising betting in India. A court in Delhi said in Oct, "It is high time that our legislature seriously considers legalising the entire system of betting online or otherwise so that enough revenues can be generated to fund various infrastructural requirements for the common man and thus check the lucrative business in organised crime."
Pataudi called on politicians within the BCCI to work towards tightening laws concerning illegal betting. Rajiv Shukla and Arun Jaitley, currently vice-presidents in the BCCI, are also key figures in the Indian Parliament. Jyotiraditya Scindia, a Minister of State, and along with Jaitley, is part of the three-member disciplinary committee looking into the ongoing probe into the IPL. "The BCCI itself has several central cabinet ministers, it has leaders in the opposition; it can certainly lobby for more stringent laws."
It is clear that the BCCI has to mend its ways and start being more expansive and less selfish in the way it deals with the cricketing world. In the 1970s, it fielded what Pataudi calls second-rate teams at home, but all the matches played to sell-out crowds and raked in much revenue, which was subsequently shared. The process of disseminating these resources was the hallmark of cricket's survival. Therefore, the board should look towards being more generous in its worldview so that cricket can expand and grow.