Sunday's emergency meeting of the Indian cricket board, where N Srinivasan neatly avoided having to resign as BCCI chief, has been dismissed as a farce by many, but Mr Srinivasan and the man who steps in as interim president, Jagmohan Dalmiya, stoutly say this turn of events is good for Indian cricket.
Mr Srinivasan, who was under much pressure for days to resign, proved he is bullet-proof by emerging out of the three-hour meeting having "stepped aside" till an inquiry into spot-fixing allegations, including those against his son-in-law, Gurunath Meiyappan, in the recently-concluded edition of the Indian Premier League or IPL is completed.
He described his decision to take a month's break as BCCI head as an "extraordinarily fair step" and said, "What have I done wrong? Excuse me, there is no charge against me." Yesterday's decision means that in this period, Mr Srinivasan will not handle the day-to-day affairs of the board, Mr Dalmiya will.
Mr Srinivasan's critics, including Punjab Cricket Association chief IS Bindra, have described the decision as "worse than match-fixing." (Read: who said what)
Mr Dalmiya, who is seen as Mr Srinivasan's mentor and has been BCCI chief in the past, said yesterday's decision was a "victory of cricket." It is an important moment for Mr Dalmiya - he had to quit as BCCI chief six years ago over allegations of corruption. He was later found not guilty by the Supreme Court, and said yesterday that his being chosen interim president proved his innocence.
Mr Srinivasan said after the meeting that none of the members of the BCCI working committee asked for his resignation. But Mr Bindra said he had demanded that Mr Srinivasan quit and added, "He is just stepping aside for one month. This is taking the public for a ride. We needed something more than this."
Mr Bindra hinted broadly that he was outmaneouvred by what is called the "the Delhi gang" - Arun Jaitley who heads the Delhi District and Cricket Association (DDCA), Anurag Thakur who is the honorary secretary of the BCCI, and Rajiv Shukla, who quit on Saturday as the Chairman of IPL, the massively popular domestic Twenty20 league. All three participated in yesterday's discussion via video-conference from a five-star hotel in Delhi.
Nearly three weeks ago, the arrest of cricketer S Sreesanth and two other members of the Rajasthan Royals by the Mumbai Police on charges of spot-fixing shoved Indian cricket into what some have described as one of its severest crises. On May 24, Mr Srinivasan's son-in-law, Gurunath Meiyappan, was arrested for allegedly conspiring with bookies. He is the team principal of the Chennai Super Kings. Their remands in custody, and that of actor Vindu Dara Singh, also arrested in the case, end today.
On Friday, BCCI Treasurer Ajay Shirke and Board Secretary Sanjay Jagdale had quit their posts. Sunday's meeting formally requested them to reconsider their decision, a prospect both have ruled out. Mr Jagdale has also opted out of the committee appointed the BCCI to inquire into the spot-fixing scandal.