The Board of Control for Cricket in India has managed to see the 'exit' of Haroon Lorgat from handling India affairs on behalf of Cricket South Africa. According to reports, Lorgat, who is the Chief Executive Officer of the South African Board, will only deal with domestic cricket issues and non-India matters. CSA will also 'investigate' if Lorgat was recently responsible for souring good relations between India and South African cricket bosses.
This 'compromise' by the South Africans to restrict Lorgat's role has helped salvage the much-troubled India's tour of South Africa this December. Although the BCCI has never said it openly, it is understood that the Indian Board chief N. Srinivasan was unhappy at Lorgat's appointment as CSA CEO in July this year. BCCI has had several run-ins with Lorgat when he was the International Cricket Council CEO in Dubai.
After the CSA agreed to 'limit' Lorgat's powers, the BCCI on Tuesday agreed to play three ODIs and two Tests against South Africa in December. This is the minimum nations must play for a contest to qualify as a "full" bilateral series. Details of matches are expected soon. Earlier, the BCCI had objected to a much longer tour itinerary, featuring among other things, three Tests, a day after it was announced by CSA on July 9. The Indians felt offended because the tour details were announced without consulting the BCCI. The first backlash from the BCCI came when it hurriedly arranged an unscheduled series with the West Indies in December. This will also be Sachin Tendulkar's farewell Test series.
The fate of India's tour has been hanging in balance for several weeks now. While BCCI's apathy towards Lorgat was apparent, what added fuel to fire was a media statement from former ICC legal head David Becker, who slammed Srinivasan for openly violating the FTP calendar which is endorsed by the ICC Executive Board that comprises the heads of full Test-playing nations. Becker said Srinivasan was arm-twisting Boards to suit BCCI's needs.
Becker wrote: "The blatant manipulation of voting by Srinivasan to oust Tim May from the ICC Cricket Committee was another (manipulation). But perhaps the most concerning example is the recent attempt by Srinivasan to manipulate the FTP schedule to his own benefit. There is a formal, unequivocal and unanimous ICC board resolution approving the current FTP schedule (including three Test matches, seven ODIs and two T20 internationals between India and South Africa). When the ICC allows one of its directors to blatantly disregard an ICC board resolution, it becomes more than questionable governance - it becomes improper. Shashank Manohar would never have allowed it. Neither would former ICC Presidents Sharad Pawar or David Morgan."
Becker, who currently advises South Africa, is known to be a Lorgat ally. During last weekend's ICC meeting London, BCCI has reportedly asked the ICC Ethics Commission to investigate how Becker (apparently supported by Lorgat) made public comments that soured the relationship between two major cricket Boards. This also helped CSA to build a case against its own CEO, Lorgat. The ICC will also investigate both Becker and Lorgat.
The ICC is also not amused with Becker's public outcry against Srinivasan. In a statement to Sports.NDTV.com, the ICC had said: "The ICC is disappointed to read the inaccurate and unsubstantiated comments made by Mr Becker about the governance of the ICC and its Board of directors. These comments are made some 18 months after Mr Becker left the ICC, and at a point in time when he is acting as legal advisor to Cricket South Africa (CSA). However, having spoken with the President of CSA, Mr Chris Nenzani, we are assured that these comments do not reflect the view of CSA and are Mr Becker's own personal views."
Finally, it has all boiled down to business as CSA was under pressure to salvage the Indian tour to prevent massive financial losses and also give a clearer picture to the stake holders, including local cricket Unions who depend on international tours to manage their budgets. An Indian tour is always considered the most lucrative due to its heavy commercial value. Close to Rs 150 crores are at stake in the India-South Africa series.