Wednesday, June 12, 2013

BCCI's "Operation Clean-Up"

After a scandal-hit IPL, which brought terms like "spot-fixing", "conflict of interest", "step aside", "betting" et al to the limelight, BCCI has finally woken up from its slumber. The Board which currently is more involved in internal politics and self-preservation than the functioning of the game has come up with a 12-point "Operation Clean-up" to clear IPL's image. And maybe hope to get the game's credibility also back up.

Following are the 12 points announced by the interim management (Source: Times of India). My thoughts on each are appended

1. Removal of sleaze; no cheerleaders, no after-match parties for players and support staff.Seriously, this is the first point they come up with. As a cricket fan, I do not really care if they remove cheerleaders and ban after-match parties, but shows the messed up priorities. Good step though.

2. Strict code of conduct to be followed by players, support staff and franchise owners. Good to hear of this, but what exactly is this code of conduct and whats the defined punishment for violation. More clarity required.

3. Restriction of movement in players' dug-out and dressing room. The owners from now on will be restricted from entering the dug-out and dressing room during matches. Good step. Also should tell the broadcasters to stop giving so much air-time to the owners and their sycophants. Or is this a little too much to ask given the amount of money paid for the ownership

4. All players and support staff of franchises need to furnish their telephone numbers with the BCCI before the start of the tournament. Constant vigilance as mad-eye Moody would have said. Does the BCCI plan to monitor the communications by itself or through some other agency? Are they allowed to have such access? What about privacy rules?

5. Adequate number of ACSU officials in the team hotel as well as the ground to supervise the proceedings. Again, constant vigilance. Good step. [Aside - Has anyone been actually caught fixing by these anti-corruption teams?]

6. Jamming of cellphone towers at the ground during matches. I believe the idea here is to stop on-ground "observers" from relaying signals to the bookie world. But what about the inconvenience to the normal paying public? And again does BCCI have the authority to install jammers inside stadiums.

7. Captains' meeting to be held in order to get more suggestions and prepare elaborate blueprint. Good step. Need to involve the senior players. And I would suggest ask for inputs from all players and not just the captains. Involve other senior players also (e.g. Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Sehwag who are not team captains)

8. No national selector will be allowed to get associated with any franchise in any capacity. Excellent step Why they were allowed earlier should also be checked. We certainly do not want to see the chief selector cheer-leading for an IPL squad.

9. All the players need to disclose every financial transaction they are carrying out with any particular organisation or person. Again not sure what the laws are and what authority BCCI has here. And is this applicable to only Indians or the foreign players as well. And I do not think anyone indulging in corrupt practices does the transactions in white money, except a certain Ashraful probably.
10. Franchises need to furnish all details of the remunerations and contractual obligations of players and support staff. Good step. Should be made public. However to make it more transparent the dealings between the franchisees and BCCI should also be made public (e.g. secret auction amount).

11. Players from now on will be prohibited from using ear plugs and microphones. Good step. Most on-field commentary by the players was useless. (Honorable exception - David Miller - "It its in the V, it goes to the tree, if its in the arc, it goes out of the park" comment). Just one query - Is this only for the playing XI or for the ones in the dug-out as well?

12. Security control policy will be formulated soon. OK

Some steps taken. In addition they had "legalised" player agents as well some time back. Still a couple of vexed questions remain which have not been answered here.
  • What about the strategic time-out? Shouldn't it be withdrawn, given the amount of betting taking place in that duration?
  • And the key one. What about the association of BCCI officials with franchisees? Still no clarity on the main point raised in the "conflict of interest" thing.
  • Also lets not just concentrate on cleaning up of IPL. Ensure the other national tournaments stay clean as well.
Also while we are trying to create a more transparent system, why not make public the Ravi Sawani report on the spot-fixing scandal. And while we are at it, why not remove the word "control" from the organisation name and change it to something like "Cricket India"?

So some key steps have been planned. Some questions are yet to be answered. Yet a lot will depend on the actual actions taken. Hopefully it is a start though. Still a long way to go for regaining the faith

Nishant Kumar for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Nishant on Twitter @NishantSKumar.

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