At a time when the Indian cricket Board is fighting tooth and nail in the Supreme Court to save the credibility of its president N. Srinivasan, former Test opener and well-known cricket commentator Sunil Gavaskar has urged more transparency in the Board of Control for Cricket in India's dealings.
On a Supreme Court directive, Gavaskar is currently heading the BCCI's IPL affairs. Gavaskar was one of the two former Test players - Shivlal Yadav is the other -- appointed by the Supreme Court after Srinivasan was suspended as Board chief till investigations in the Indian Premier League betting and spot-fixing scandal were over. Speaking to reporters in Dubai on Monday, Gavaskar said: "I am hoping the BCCI will become more open."
The betting and match-fixing scandal that surfaced last year has exposed the dark underbelly of the IPL. A court inquiry has already charged Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan for corruption. Gurunath was the face of Chennai Super Kings till last year. The fact that there are allegations of corruption against Srinivasan and 12 prominent players highlight the fact that IPL has also embraced corruption.
Gavaskar feels it is time to change the IPL's image and the way the BCCI functioned. "Like, maybe at least for the IPL, we are trying to make it open and it will carry on for the rest of the BCCI where there will be healthy discussions where people can speak freely and fearlessly, and involve everyone in the decision making process. We will make mistakes, mistakes have been made, but if we admit to mistakes, then we'll get better," Gavaskar said.
BCCI has always been a top-heavy institution. The president, appointed on a zonal basis, usually rules with a strong hand and is well served by a close coterie of officials who occupy top positions in crucial BCCI committees.
The IPL scandal has somewhat split the Board. Earlier this month, at least eight members wanted the BCCI to call an emergent working committee meeting and be updated on the IPL scandal and how the Board's lawyers were handling the case in Supreme Court. It was felt that the BCCI lawyers were only trying to salvage Srinivasan's image and chair. Even on Tuesday, the Board's lawyers wanted the Supreme court to be reinstated as BCCI boss.
With the IPL case expected to drag for at least four months more, Gavaskar feels the BCCI needs to tighten up and work on its priorities. "I very strongly feel that there are four major stakeholders -- biggest is the fan, the players, the media and the administrators, and the sponsors as well. If all of us work together, we will be able to take the game forward. Not just Indian cricket, but world cricket."
What Gavaskar is saying is ideal but BCCI officials do not believe in too much transparency. Players are gagged from time to time and on tours, media persons are made to run around in circles. So far, no BCCI official has come forward to speak on the IPL scandal. Even skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who leads Chennai Super Kings and has been linked with bookies, has chosen to keep quiet.
Gavaskar wants greater interaction so that the walls of doubt don't create barriers. "This is not only to inform people of what's been happening but also to get feedback on things that maybe we can do better. We are hoping to do this regularly for the next month and maybe beyond. It's something new for the BCCI but I hope it will be a regular feature so that you can form your own judgment and then do as you see fit," Gavaskar said.
With Gavaskar's 'innings' as interim BCCI head limited to probably another five weeks, will a defiant Board ever turn a new leaf?