The proverbial winds of change are blowing hard through the BCCI.
Someone left the door open and invited them in. But it didn’t matter if they hadn’t, as this typhoon was off the leash.
Following on from a series of events remarkably started by a disgruntled cricketing state board in Bihar, Indian cricket has now discovered and potentially even embraced world class corporate governance.
In the last 24 hours, Shashank Manohar has been elected as the BCCI President for his second term.
He is making all the right noises.
At his press conference, he asked for two months to implement a suite of changes, all aimed at rebuilding faith in how the BCCI operates.
Regulating conflict of interest issues
An independent agent will be established to investigate all conflicts of interest that may exist with administrators, players or staff. Almost shockingly, not one conflict of interest has ever been found to exist when the BCCI has investigated itself.
Manohar has even gone to the extraordinary step of asking his son to resign from his post as a BCCI employee. Perhaps unnecessary overkill, but a powerful message that points to the future.
Preventing on-field corruption
Manohar has come to the conclusion that apart from the high level education of players, the BCCI lacks the requisite resources to do anything more, such as properly investigate on-field corruption.
This is a stark change from Srinivasan’s position, where he used special committees headed by internal stooge Ravi Shastri to probe these issues. Unless we are blind to his history, he is not a formally trained detective.
The BCCI will now look to engage government for assistance in these matters.
Getting member associations’ accounts in order
Again, the walls of secrecy are crumbling.
It is proposed that independent auditors will examine the annual statements of member boards.
Making the BCCI’s financial records public
25 lakh (circa $35kUSD) is not a large amount. However, Manohar is bringing public service best practice to the BCCI by publishing all procurement activity of this amount or greater.
Will it include player salaries?
He also states that the board’s financial statements will also be made public. An amazing change that should have the benefit of providing insight into its fiscal relationship with the ICC and sponsors.
Developing the bench strength of the Indian team
Manohar has spoken quite assertively about the need to also focus on cricket itself. The National Cricket Academy (NCA) will be re-established and run all year round. Even if it only produces one Test class player per year, this is a brilliant step for Indian cricket.
It is now on the record that women’s cricket in India is about to become professional. The BCCI will enter into central contracts with the team. At what level of payment, we are still unclear. However, this move must be applauded.
Curbing the president’s arbitrary powers
“To show that we want to function in a transparent manner and not in an arbitrary manner, there are two powers which are vested with me under the constitution. One, at the AGM, there is a chairman’s vote [as board president, Manohar will chair the AGM] and a casting vote to which I do not agree that the chairman should have a vote because the person should not be equated with the association. The casting vote is fine. Therefore I would assure you all that I would not exercise the right of the chairman’s vote at the AGM till the constitution is amended. Secondly, there is a right given to the chairman to decide on a dispute with regards to the vote. By which we have seen in earlier days since many years that minorities are converted into majorities, because it again an arbitrary power that is given to the chairman. I would not exercise that power also. I would put the dispute to the house, and whatever is the majority view of the house, I would decide accordingly, that would be my decision.”
In the ultimate slap in the face to Srinivasan’s style of leadership, Manohar is almost refusing the powers bestowed on him as President. Instead of an autocracy, we see the makings of a BCCI Cabinet, with a majority rules approach.
This is a massive change in the workings of the board.
While the next level of detail in this new approach is currently lacking, the intent appears on the surface to be pure.
However, it must be noted that Manohar was BCCI President when the board retrospectively changed the constitution to allow conflicts of interest in relation to IPL team ownership. In hindsight, it can be argued that this was the trigger that started the previously unfathomable events that have taken the BCCI to this point.
Do leopards change their spots? Is Manohar really the bastion of superior corporate governance?
And what now for warlord Srinivasan. The ICC Chairman now has no official post domestically. The BCCI can call in his ICC Chairmanship at a moments notice.
Why haven’t they? Is this the unspeakable final step in the cleansing cycle?
Manohar has asked for two months to make his mark.
The clock is ticking.
Republished with better editing at The Quint