In its battle against the Supreme Court, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has done everything it could to save face. But the apex court of course has had the final say after the BCCI refused to implement the recommendations made by the RM Lodha panel.
The Supreme Court heard arguments from both sides – the Lodha Committee and the BCCI – last week, before giving an ultimatum to the board. Either accept the reforms or we will make you. Consequently on October 7, just before the Dusshera holidays, the Court passed an interim order, barring the BCCI from disbursing any funds to state associations. True to form, the BCCI has been defiant. Its top honchos have made plenty of noise to attract public attention and to trigger a mass outburst. What will happen to the future of Indian cricket if the BCCI’s powers are curbed? There were threats of cancelling the India-New Zealand series midway, there were calls to cancel the Ranji Trophy and the board expressed concerns that India would not be able to participate in ICC events .
The Supreme Court has had enough of the BCCI’s tactics. When the richest board in the world said they wanted to accept the reforms but had no sway over the state associations, the top court of the country directed the board to stop paying funds to associations that were reluctant to change. On Monday, October 17, the Supreme Court will pass a final order, which will force the world’s most powerful cricket body down to its knees.
But the BCCI won’t go down without one last fight. The next four days will be a stern test for Anurag Thakur, the president and Ajay Shirke, the secretary.
“We are left with no option. The associations will now decide their future course of action, how, and whether at all, they’ll be able to host matches without any funding after today’s order,” a top BCCI official told India Today shortly after the Supreme Court order.
The board’s threat to cancel the ongoing home series against New Zealand has come to nothing. The ODI series starts in Dharamsala on Sunday, a day after the state associations meet with the BCCI top honchos and a day before the Supreme Court’s final hearing. If the BCCI does not unconditionally agree to comply with the Lodha recommendations by Monday, the hammer will come down hard on the cricket board.
On Tuesday, October 18, the BCCI’s review petition will be heard by Chief Justice of India TS Thakur in his chambers. It is likely that the petition will be dismissed within minutes. The Lodha panel had been formed by the Supreme Court in January 2016 in the wake of the report submitted by the Mudgal Committee. In less than two years, Lodha’s recommendations created a stir in the Indian cricket fraternity.
The BCCI has been at loggerheads with the panel ever since and has strongly opposed all the key reforms. But you cannot disobey the highest court of the land and expect to get away with it. The Supreme Court is geared to put BCCI in its place but Anurag Thakur won’t back off without one last fight.
The next four days will be interesting and keenly followed by observers.