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A distinguished panel headed by former CAG Vinod Rai will manage the affairs of the world’s richest cricket body

By Sujit Bhar

The Supreme Court on Monday (January 30) announced a four-member panel of administrators for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The panel represents an excellent mix of administrative ability and accountability, historical authenticity, cricketing ability and fiscal discipline. Representing these characteristics, respectively, are former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Vinod Rai, historian and cricket-buff Ramachandra Guha, former skipper of the Indian women’s team Diana Edulji, and IDFC managing director Vikram Limaye.

The inclusion of Edulji was a masterstroke, bringing in a gender-neutral look to the panel.

With the ICC meeting around the corner (February 2) and with India needing to send a representative to the meeting, the apex court also said that BCCI will be represented by its joint secretary Amitabh Chaudhary and Limaye.

The apex court bench of Justices Dipak Misra, AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud had asked the BCCI to give names of people who could attend the meeting.

Originally, nine names were proposed by the Amicus Curiae panel of Gopal Subramaniam and Anil Divan. The court thought this was too many and had deferred—also at the insistence of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the government—the final decision to January 30. Rohatgi had argued that the BCCI and the government should also be allowed to submit their own choice of names.

The idea of this select panel is to clean up the BCCI, restore it to its past glory and serve the first cause it should, which is cricket.

The court has been vigorously fighting against the takeover of sporting bodies by politicians and vested interests, which had led to the huge IPL match-fixing scam in which former BCCI president N Srinivasan was indirectly involved. Srinivasan lost his footing in the BCCI, and going by the current configuration of the committee, this foothold seems to have gone forever.

The former CAG’s appointment was on the lines of the Lodha Committee recommendations, which laid huge stress on fiscal discipline within the world’s richest cricket body. At the end, there will be a return to democracy, with formal elections, but Rai is expected to lay a foundation so strong that it should last.

As far as Guha is concerned, he is not just a walking cricketing encyclopaedia, his interests in the game range from historical perspectives to cricketing rules and other details. He is expected to help guide the BCCI in a direction that does historical justice.

Edulji is an experienced cricketing brain. It wasn’t as if there aren’t better cricketing brains in the country, but her presence will give a gender-neutral picture that will allow the board to take proactive steps towards pay-parity and parity in other areas of the sport in the country. The former national captain has been quoted in the media as saying: “It is going to be a very big challenge in terms of administration work to be done as the most important thing will be to give a facelift to BCCI’s reputation which has taken a massive hit.”

Limaye is expected to be the financial brain in all deals that the BCCI would have to script in the future, including crucial television rights. The return on investment for the BCCI has always been huge, since the time former BCCI president, the Late Jagmohan Dalmiya, opened it up to sponsorship and other financial avenues. Limaye will, thus, have a tough job keeping up the tradition of the board, a tradition that has brought the board this far in the world of cricket.

Mukul Mudgal, former chief justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court and also the one who headed the match-fixing committee, has been quoted in the media as saying: “I am sure this panel will do justice to the faith reposed in it.”

Another respected face in the board, former BCCI president AC Muthiah praised the choice of Rai. “Vinod Rai is a man of great integrity and he will steer BCCI to greater heights,” he said.

Lead picture: (Clockwise from top) Vinod Rai, Vikram Limaye, Ramachandra Guha and Diana Edulji will now run BCCI

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