Former Test cricketers Rahul Dravid and Sanjay Manjrekar feel it will be sad if the top Board of Control for Cricket in India officials lost their credibility in the public eye for allegedly bringing the game and its administration to disrepute.
The world's richest and most influential cricket body was last week slammed by the Bombay High Court for flouting its own constitution in its haste to reinstate N. Srinivasan as president. Srinivasan and his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan was given a clean chit by a two-member panel of former judges that probed allegations of spot-fixing in Indian Premier League matches involving the president's team, Chennai Super Kings.
In an exclusive interview to Cricinfo, Dravid was unhappy that the BCCI was going through a credibility crisis. The former Indian skipper said: "There are so many fans and so many people who care deeply about this game and it is because of these fans that we are who we are as cricketers. Administrators are there because of the fans and the cricketers to run this game, so credibility of a game, or a board, or even a government for that matter, is important irrespective of what you do. If you are in public life it is important."
Just weeks away from the Champions League, where Dravid will skipper Rajasthan Royals, the BCCI's image has taken a beating. Dravid said: "Things like this don't help, when we are on the front pages of the newspapers and not on the back. A certain amount of reverence, respect and love for cricketers can diminish, and I think it's a really, really sad thing for cricket in this country if that had to happen."
Last week, the court struck down the panel's report saying the BCCI broke its own rules because the Board's constitution mandated the presence of at least one member from the IPL Governing Council. The Bombay High Court, which acted on a PIL filed by the Cricket Association of Bihar, said the clean chit given to Srinivasan was "illegal and unconstitutional."
On August 2, the BCCI failed to reinstate Srinivasan as its president and gave interim chief Jagmohan Dalmiya an extended run till the High Court order was vacated. BCCI sources said Srinivasan, for the first time, faced opposition as at least two vice-presidents felt either a new panel should be formed or the Board should appeal to a higher court.
On Monday, the BCCI moved the Supreme Court challenging the Bombay High Court order that said: "The (probe) Commission was not duly constituted and was contrary to and in violation of the provisions of Rules 2.2 and 3 of Section 6 of the Operational Rules (of BCCI)."
Former Test batsman Sanjay Manjrekar echoed Dravid's feelings, but feels public memory is short and the BCCI mandarins will escape censure. "India is a very strange country when it comes to cricket and the fans follow Indian cricket unconditionally. So somewhere I think the administrators know that despite all this, the people will still follow this game passionately," said Manjrekar.
He added: "There will still be those kind of numbers that make India such a powerhouse in world cricket, so that is where I think all of us are slightly fortunate: that despite making all kinds of mistakes which take their toll on the credibility of Indian cricket, the fans don't seem to respond as much."