The Lodha panel recommendations could usher in key changes in India’s cricket administration
The recommendations of the Supreme Court-appointed Justice Lodha committee on fixing BCCI, if implemented in right earnest, would prove to be a paradigm shift for the cricket administrator and, hopefully, provide a template for sports administration in general. To start with, the panel recommends empowering players instead of the mandarins to manage matters directly related to the game. Selection, coaching, performance evaluation and umpiring are to be the exclusive purview of cricket committees staffed by three former players. Given mandarin-led, zone-based selection has come under question frequently—especially in the wake of poor performance—the suggestion vests this control in more competent stakeholders. This is, however, contingent upon junking the age-old policy of appeasing the zones.
The panel’s seminal recommendations concern the structure of the BCCI itself—with the view to shake off the hold of politicians over the body—and seek to reduce its opacity. While it recommends debarring ministers and government officials from holding office—former BCCI chair Sharad Pawar and Indian team manager Rajiv Shukla were both Union ministers—it also places age and term restrictions. With a 70-year age cap on all BCCI posts, former BCCI presidents, Sharad Pawar and N Srinivasan face exile—not only can they not return to the helm, they will perhaps have to relinquish the presidency of the Mumbai Cricket Association and the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association, respectively, that they currently hold. Add to that a maximum of three terms of office and a “cooling off” period between terms, and many within the current fold will have to either exit or can’t return for sometime after they demit office. Even current president Shashank Manohar’s innings at BCCI will end with this term. The Lodha committee has also strongly recommended that BCCI be brought under the ambit of the RTI Act. That, along with the proposal that betting be legalised, would lead to greater transparency, especially if reputed global betting agencies, say, a Ladbrokes, enter the fray. Severing the umbilical cord between the BCCI and the Indian Premier League (IPL) which has become synonymous with spot-fixing is also a good idea.