On February 2, 2005, in the final judgement in the case of Zee Telefilms v. Union of India (AIR 2005 SC 2677), the honourable Supreme Court of India denied a petition seeking the status of ‘State’ (or a govt. entity) for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Justifying their stand, the majority of the bench held: “…in a democracy there is a dividing line between a State enterprise and a non-State enterprise, which is distinct and the judiciary should not be an instrument to erase the said dividing line…”
A little over a decade later, the Supreme Court has announced a date: January 4, 2017, at which it will revamp the top brass of the BCCI entirely, which means that come the new year, the richest cricket board in the world will get an unprecedented face-lift; for good or bad, remains to be seen.
Not so long ago, in January 2015, the Justice Lodha Committee was instituted to decide upon the quantum of punishment for two IPL franchises in violation of the established rules and also for their then alleged involvement in spot-fixing. But, as the Lodha Committee dug deeper, they unearthed droves of corruption.
They could trace corrupt practices straight to the people who mattered most in the BCCI. Thus, in its recommendations to the Supreme Court, the Committee recommended massive changes to how the BCCI worked and how it ought to function as a sporting body.
The BCCI-SupremeCourt-Lodha love triangle is becoming a tragedy for both administration and the fans. #BCCI— Thyagarajan Delli (@tdelli) December 15, 2016
Some of these recommendations, for example, the One-State-One-Vote-Policy, seemed like a welcome panacea for a stagnant system in place, but, others were absurd.
Suggesting a cap on the advertisements in between overs and that former cricketers should be administrators made as much sense as Donald Trump’s views on climate change – zilch.
What was astonishing to see was how actively and obstinately the Committee and the Supreme Court dealt with the matter in the months to follow. Suddenly, the same court which was more than happy with the working of the BCCI as an autonomous body not so long ago, wanted to remodel it from a Ferrari to a Sedan.
While a Sedan might be more viable, there’s no denying that there was a sense of pride among the Indian people in the Ferrari we had in the BCCI. Of course, the allegations against the board were a worry, but to say that a change of car is the only way to fix the inefficiency is stretching a bit too far.
In a bid to protect itself, the BCCI dug its heels and decided to go down fighting. Calling for all sorts of meetings only to pass resolutions against accepting the recommendations made by the Lodha Committee meant that this was now a battle of egos.
Might be worth a thought that if 50% of the Lodha Commission's recommendations had already existed, there would've been no Lodha Commission!— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) February 20, 2016
To put it quite frankly, you can be the richest board of any sport in the world, but you don’t win a battle of egos against the Supreme Court of India.
The Committee and the Supreme Court made sure that the BCCI knew what they were getting into, hitting them where it hurt the most. The Committee on October 4, 2016 ceased all payments from the BCCI to any state association which wasn’t ready to comply with the Committee’s recommendations.
The Committee didn’t stop there, they added another caveat mandating all payments to be authorised by the Supreme Court before being disbursed.
So, with all that money in the BCCI coffers, each penny of which is accounted for (with balance sheets available on the BCCI’s website), the BCCI cannot access it without authorisation. Sounds like something we’ve all been a part of in India, of late, doesn’t it?
Should the Lodha committee sack the BCCI's top brass?— TheField (@thefield_in) December 16, 2016
This has already hampered a number of domestic tournaments, with hotels and other service providers backing out of tender processes fearing a delay in getting paid. Come 2017, it will only get worse for the BCCI as the Supreme Court gets ready to replace the BCCI’s top brass with people it thinks are a better fit to govern cricket in India.
The money in the BCCI accounts isn’t the only worry for the board. The money that it was supposed to earn is as well. The IPL broadcasting rights’ bidding process – scheduled for late 2016 – has now been suspended indefinitely.
This was supposed to be the biggest deal in cricket broadcast history with experts estimating the amount to be anywhere between US$2.5 bn to US$3.5 bn.
With the BCCI on a sticky wicket, you can be sure that this is no more as lucrative a deal for the board as it could have been. February 4 is also the date for IPL auctions which means a host of new contracts and a host of new interventions from the Committee and the Supreme Court.
The BCCI is now like a group of bachelor residents in a housing society who are cornered by the authorities for a mistake they made a couple of years back. They stare at eviction, imploring before the authorities by citing all the good that they’d done thus far. But all of us know how this story unfolds.
Although, this time, it’s also nearly another million cricketers who will suffer the collateral damage alongside the organisation.
It’s fair to say that 2016 was a very good year for Indian cricket.
Although there was disappointment when the Men in Blue crashed out of the ICC World T20 semi-finals, there was much joy for the Indian Test team as Virat Kohli’s men remained undefeated and ended the year as the number one ranked team in the world.
There were a lot of top individual performances from Indian cricketers this calendar year and here, we look at the best five.
VIRAT KOHLI – 82* vs AUSTRALIA, MOHALI, T20I
It’s no surprise that this list begins with a knock from Virat Kohli. The Delhi batsman had a spectacular year across all formats and proved to be the star at the World T20 as well.
In a must-win encounter against Australia, India were in trouble – having been restricted to 49/3 in under eight overs as they attempted to chase a target of 161. Kohli went on to build a decent partnership with Yuvraj Singh, before the Punjab batsman was dismissed for 21.
Still needing 67 runs to win from six overs, Kohli took charge and saw India home along with captain MS Dhoni. Kohli’s 82 unbeaten runs came from just 51 balls, which included nine fours and two sixes. He was named Man of the Match for his efforts, and would go on to win the Player of the Tournament accolade as well.
RAVICHANDRAN ASHWIN – 13/140 vs NEW ZEALAND, INDORE, TEST
Just last week, Ravichandran Ashwin was named the ICC Cricketer of the Year and ICC Test Cricketer of the Year after a sensational year in which he excelled with ball and bat.
Although he put up many brilliant all-round performances, his best effort came against New Zealand at Indore. On a pitch that did not offer much support for bowlers, Ashwin picked up a 13-wicket match-haul – his best in Test cricket.
Ashwin finished with figures of 6/81 and 7/59 in the two innings as India won the match by 321 runs. The Tamil Nadu off-spinner was duly named Man of the Match and the Man of the Series.
VIRAT KOHLI – 235 vs ENGLAND, MUMBAI, TEST
When you see a batsman score a double century and his team put on an innings total of 631, your first instinct is that the pitch was an easy one to bat on. But that was hardly the case in the Test between India and England at Mumbai.
After England had put 400 on the board, Kohli stepped up to deliver one of his greatest knocks. The 28-year-old showed his class as he attacked the English spinners despite the surface offering a lot of turn and bounce.
Kohli scored 235 and was ably aided by Murali Vijay and Jayant Yadav – both of whom notched up centuries – during various parts of his innings. India would go on to win the game by an innings and 36 runs.
KARUN NAIR – 303* vs ENGLAND, CHENNAI, TEST
Karun Nair was brought into the Indian Test XI after injuries to Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma. He was thought of as a spot-gap replacement and his scores of 4 and 13 at Mohali and Mumbai meant that there weren’t much expectations from the Karnataka batsman.
Nair, though, had other ideas as he became just the second Indian batsman after Virender Sehwag to score a Test triple century in just the third innings of his international career. In a knock that lasted 381 deliveries and 565 minutes, Nair changed gears at will – slamming 32 fours and four sixes.
There were concerns that India’s batting prowess has reduced from the previous generation, but Nair’s knock was an indicator that Kohli’s men don’t have much to worry about, especially when it comes to bench strength.
RAVINDRA JADEJA – 10/154 vs ENGLAND, CHENNAI, TEST
Virat Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin are considered India’s most important players, but Ravindra Jadeja has been almost as crucial a member of the Test side since his return to the team last November.
Jadeja’s best performance in 2016, arguably the best of his career, came against England at Chennai. On a flat track that hardly had anything in it for the bowlers, Jadeja notched up his first 10-wicket match-haul in Test cricket.
The left-arm spinner was particularly impressive during England’s second innings, picking up career-best figures of 7/48. India would go on to win the match by an innings and 75 runs.
Teenage sensation Prithvi Shaw has earned a maiden call-up to the Mumbai squad for their Ranji Trophy semi-final encounter against Tamil Nadu.
Shaw made the news in 2013 when, as a 14-year-old, slammed 546 runs from 330 balls in a Harris Shield match. It was a world record for the highest score by an Indian batsman in minor cricket before being broken by Pranav Dhanawade earlier this year.
Shaw, now 17, recently represented the victorious India U-19 team at the ACC U-19 Asia Cup. He notched up 191 runs at an average of 38.20 during the five matches.
The inclusion of Shaw for Kevin d’Almeida is the only change from the 15-man squad that overcame Hyderabad in the quarter-final.
The defending champions will continue to be without the experienced trio of Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma and Dhawal Kulkarni – all of whom are still recovering from injuries.
17-year-old Prithvi Shaw picked by Mumbai for their #RanjiTrophy semi-finals against TN. Shaw was part of India u-19 team that won Asia Cup— Arun Venugopal (@scarletrun) December 28, 2016
Aditya Tare (c, wk), Praful Waghela, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Siddhesh Lad, Abhishek Nayar,, Shardul Thakur, Balwinder Singh Sandhu, Tushar Deshpande, Royston Dias, Sufiyan Shaikh (wk), Vijay Gohil, Akshay Girap, Eknath Kerkar, Prithvi Shaw.