On The Contrary

Action Replays

Madhavankutty Pillai has no specialisations whatsoever. He is among the last of the generalists. And also Open chief of bureau, Mumbai  
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The déjà vu around the fall and rise of BCCI administrators
As the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League takes off in the United Arab Emirates because of the Indian election, Lalit Modi will again be remembered for his organising talent. Five years ago, because of the 2009 election then, the IPL had been forced to shift abroad to South Africa. And it was extraordinary how successful the event was with so little time for preparation. It contributed to the Modi cult, with he himself becoming enamoured of his own genius, and his hubris eventually leading to his fall.

The culture of crony cricketing capitalism he fomented might have sparked off a series of further scandals but the attraction of the game itself has continued as before. To the viewing public, all the scandals, the corruption, the betting, haven’t mattered as long as the spectacle was maintained and there were enough sixes, fours and close finishes.

Two events this week indicate that in the backroom of cricket there is a revolving door that ensures that things remain the same the more they change. One came by way of N Srinivasan, the ex BCCI chief who oversaw Modi’s humiliation. Srinivasan’s cricket team, the Chennai Super Kings, remains shrouded in an aura of betting thanks to his son-in-law’s indictment by the Supreme Court-appointed enquiry commission. The court as good as sacked Srinivasan by its observations, leading to Sunil Gavaskar being appointed interim president.

This week, the Court revealed that the enquiry commission report names Srinivasan too. A day earlier, he had filed a plea asking for his reinstatement as President because he had been unjustly removed. Predictably, it was refused. If he had been a cricketer, this never-say-die attitude would have been admirable. But in the present case, with the overwhelming mountain of evidence, he just seems to be adding insult to arrogance. One would think his days as a cricket administrator are numbered.

But they are not if you consider the second event; that is, the simultaneous return of Lalit Modi by way of the Rajasthan Cricket Association elections. Modi has most probably won the election that was held some time back, but the results have been put on hold following a case filed by the BCCI. The Court is expected to release the result soon. When it does come, it could mean Modi once again occupying centrestage in Indian cricket.

Srinivasan and Modi have no love for each other and the latter celebrates every court ruling against the former with a series of tweets. But that the fall of Srinivasan should be accompanied by the rise of Modi would be quite a coincidence if we didn’t know that this is the usual character of BCCI politics. Those who occupy its higher echelons find themselves suddenly getting a radical image makeover from king to thief as soon as their throne is uprooted and then they inevitably claw back into favour.

In 2005, cases of financial misappropriation were filed by the BCCI against Jagmohan Dalmiya, arguably the most powerful man in Indian cricket then, soon after his bloc was ousted by a group led by Sharad Pawar. Dalmiya, exonerated by the courts, is now back at the top rung. Modi, whose fall was so steep that he had to get out of the country itself, is almost at the doorstep of Indian cricket. Srinivasan is in a hole that is getting deeper by the day, but give or take a couple of years, don’t be surprised if he too is back and singing homilies to cleaning up the game.