The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) election to be held on 29 September has put the spotlight on the case against N. Srinivasan, its current secretary and presidential candidate. The Supreme Court is hearing a case filed against Srinivasan by former BCCI president A.C. Muthiah, who claims the former wrongfully bid for the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) Chennai Super Kings franchise when he was treasurer of the game’s administrator, and later amended the rules to protect his interest in the team. Board regulations don’t allow direct or indirect commercial interest in any of its events, a rule tweaked later to exclude IPL, the Champions League and Twenty20.
Srinivasan is the managing director of Chennai-based India Cements Ltd and the de facto owner of Chennai Super Kings. While the Madras high court had dismissed Muthiah’s special leave petition saying he had no locus standi, the Supreme Court has observed that Srinivasan must choose between BCCI and the team. Though the bench said its observation should not be construed as a direction, it has maintained that the core issue is conflict of interest.
This patently seems to be the case—one person batting, bowling and acting as umpire. A BCCI president could, hypothetically, change the rules of the game to suit his own commercial interest.
For instance, the board recently announced new rules for the IPL franchises that allow the existing teams to retain four of their players. In effect, Chennai Super Kings is not obliged to release M.S. Dhoni (nor Mumbai Indians, Sachin Tendulkar) into the common pool for the November auction of players. Shah Rukh Khan, owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders, has cried foul on Twitter. It’s even less of a level playing field for the two new teams—Kochi and Pune—that will play the fourth season without access to some of the best players.
Given the innumerable controversies that have rocked cricket in recent years and months, now is as good a time as any to take a stand in favour of honest sportsmanship and put the good of the game above everything. It’s a tough choice, but by making the sacrifice, Srinivasan may well be able to bring back some of the prestige that the game needs.
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