New Delhi: The battle lines had already been drawn and now things are only getting murkier between the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) members. In a curious development, BCCI officials have accused CoA chief Vinod Rai of himself circumventing one of the recommendations of the Lodha Committee - the clause dealing with “conflict of interest”.
In a letter accessed by CricketNext, Rai gave the go-ahead for India coach Ravi Shastri and India ‘A’ and U-19 coach Rahul Dravid as commentators in the just concluded 11th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Replying to a mail addressed to him by an IPL official asking for clarification on the appointment of Shastri and Dravid as commentators in the IPL, the CoA chief wrote: “Okay with me. They should be BCCI commentators so that 'conflict' is not attracted.”
Though the proposal didn’t go through and Shastri & Dravid were not added to the commentary panel, BCCI officials say that Rai’s approval itself is a clear indication of his willingness to step out of his remit.
“The CoA knows that removing Conflict of Interest was one of the building blocks of the Lodha Committee’s recommendations and that was the reason why Shastri and Dravid needed to step aside as commentators in the first place,” a senior BCCI official told CricketNext. "In fact, this very clause has also seen some former cricketers from managing players and writing columns. So, it was important that Rai ensured that no fingers were pointed at the very committee formed to remove conflict."
The Lodha Committee recommendations had made it clear that contracted coaches should not perform dual roles as it amounts to conflict of interest. In fact, Dravid was given a 12-month contract in 2017 after his previous contract with the ‘A’ and U-19 teams was for 10-months, having a 2-month window for the IPL.
In its 159-page report on proposed changes in BCCI's functioning, the Lodha Committee — with regards to the conflict of interest clause — had written:
A) Several selectors have their children aspiring to represent the nation or the state. The minimum requirement is that if son or daughter of a selector or Office Bearer or representative of full member, is a cricketer who is considered for selection, such selector, Office Bearer or representative of full member should resign.
B) Several former players wear different hats. Former players are selectors, coaches, managers, members of the Governing Council, commentators, sports writers, employees of franchisees, running cricket academies. This results in conflict of interest in so far as the players are concerned. All such conflicts of interest situations should be avoided by prescribing that no former players shall hold more than one post or position.
The CoA was formed by the SC in January 2017 to oversee the implementation of the Lodha Committee reforms and rework the constitution of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
In fact, historian Ramachandra Guha when quitting as a member of the CoA had written a scathing mail to Rai, emphasising the the need to remove the conflicts present in the functioning of the board, specifically mentioning roles or former players adding up as coaches of the national team as well as IPL teams.