Bangalore:Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, the former India captain, has asked serious questions of the BCCI's standing in world cricket. Pataudi said the BCCI - which he said is "in a mess" over the IPL - no longer enjoys the goodwill it once did in the global cricket community and the time had come for it to back its financial clout 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 commemorating the 75th birth anniversary of former board chief 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 so that none of us actually know what is happening behind closed doors."
The BCCI's financial growth in the last two decades has however, he indicated, not been matched by the goodwill it had enjoyed in the world during the Packer crisis. "When Kerry Packer arrived on the scene, going back a few years, there was a huge shake-up in world-cricket administration. But at that time India and Indian cricket earned a huge amount of goodwill and gratitude."
He said "not a single Indian cricketer" had signed with Packer even as, "the English captain was surreptitiously recruiting for Kerry. Not only that, but India was host to a number of, what I would call, second-rate teams, but to full houses. A lot of money was made and shared between the countries and cricket survived. Whether that goodwill still continues with the BCCI I am not quite sure."
The board's handing of the IPL's current controversies and legal disputes would be closely observed, "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 refused to be part of the IPL governing council this October after it was reconstituted by the BCCI, which made memberships honorary as opposed to paid roles, as was the case earlier.
One of the key areas where Pataudi felt the BCCI needed to show leadership was in the development of more stringent laws pertaining to illegal betting in India. "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; it is quite possible to believe the kind of money that is generated illegally in this country," he said.
Mazhar Majeed, a player agent who is at the centre of the spot-fixing allegations involving Pakistani cricketers, claimed to have links with Indian bookies. Hansie Cronje, the former South African captain, had told the King Commission in 2000 that he had received money from Indian bookmakers for information on team selection and daily forecasts in the mid-1990s.
There have been calls to legalise betting in India. Most recently, a Delhi court, in October, said, "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, is the president of the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association, and along with Jaitley, is part of the three-member disciplinary committee looking into the ongoing investigations 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. Lobbying continues in this country as indeed it does everywhere in the world," Pataudi said.