Dubai: Former India captain Ravi Shastri's contract with the Indian cricket board has raised questions over a potential conflict of interest as he is a member of the International Cricket Council's (ICC) Cricket Committee which recommended the partial use of Decision Review System.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has been vehement in opposing the DRS and Shastri made no bones in supporting the Indian board on the issue during the second Test at Trent Bridge.
ICC made DRS mandatory with the use Hotspot and audio technology. Hawk Eye, which is used for lbw reviews and which is still not accepted by the Indian board, was kept out of the mandatory use.
Shastri is on the 16-member ICC Cricket Committee, headed by Clive Llyod, as a media representative.
Shastri and the legendary Sunil Gavaskar have come under severe criticism for reportedly being paid Rs.3.6 crore annually by the BCCI for working as centrally contracted commentators. Reportedly they have been instructed to toe the official line of the BCCI on every issue at public forum.
Former cricketers have criticised the two and the board, saying it is not possible for them to be neutral observers when they are on the pay roll of the BCCI.
In 2008, Gavaskar had to resign as the chairman of the ICC Cricket Committee due to a conflict of interest. The world body had put him on notice after discussing the potential for a conflict of interest for a person chairing the ICC Cricket Committee while, at the same time, working for a media outlet.
Gavaskar relinquished his job, saying with more and more cricket it was not possible for him to do justice to the two jobs.
The BCCI has been quick to clarify that the two experts, though centrally contracted by it, are not dictated by the Indian board.
"There is no conflict of interest. BCCI does not tell them on what they should speak. They are independent commentators and what they speak is purely their opinion," said BCCI vice-president Rajiv Shukla.
"BCCI pays them for their professional qualities. They are outstanding commentators and respected at the international level. What they have achieved is because of their talent," Shukla said.
During the second Test at Trent Bridge, Shastri was vehement in supporting the BCCI's position on DRS. Shastri and Nasser Hussain were involved in a verbal spat on air during commentating and Shastri went to the extent of saying that the ICC-sanctioned Hot-Spot technology has become a "cold spot."
Hussain had slammed the BCCI for not making the full use of the DRS and called it a "disgrace". Shastri had jumped to the Indian board's defence, saying England are jealous of India's World No.1 rankings and the BCCI's fat purse.
"Ravi, I just want to pick you up on something you said on a show yesterday, questioning my right to call non-use of DRS a disgrace. Well, I have earned that right after 96 Tests to voice my opinion on cricket. It is my job and my right to voice my opinion," Hussain said.
Shastri said: "You said India not taking it (DRS in full) as a disgrace. India have every rights to decide to take it or not. And India decided not to take it because they think the technology is not 100 percent full proof. Technology is improving all the time and after seeing the way hot spot have behaved... how hot spot have become cold spot, India have every right to do what they did."
"We also discussed on the show that in the DRS if they are going far with the leg-before decision then if there is an inside edge in a leg before then batsman has every right to go to the DRS and avoid the howler."