Kolkata: A day ago, Ramachandra Guha resigned from the post of a BCCI administrator citing personal reasons. But his letter addressed to chairman of the Committee of Administrators, Vinod Rai, would surely suggest that there were some other reasons behind him giving up the job.
In a seven-page letter addressed to Rai, Guha lambasted Indian cricket’s, ” superstar culture” and severely criticised the BCCI’s, “insensitive” handling of coach Anil Kumble besides questioning the board’s move of awarding former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni with a Grade A contract despite the wicketkeeper- batsman not playing Test cricket.
He did not spare skipper Virat Kohli as he went on to question his role in the selection of the coach and also he said that legends like Rahul Dravid, Sunil Gavaskar and Sourav Ganguly are involved in a “conflict of interest” which is very harmful for Indian cricket.
In the letter, he detested the “extremely insensitive and unprofessional manner” in which the BCCI office bearers like acting secretary Amitabh Chaudhary and CEO Rahul Johri handled the alleged rift between skipper Kohli and coach Anil Kumble.
He also blamed the CoA for, “silence and inaction”, saying that the body was “unfortunately being complicit in this regard.” He however recommended former cricketer Javagal Srinath as his replacement in the Committee of Administrators.
Guha took a dig at Kohli, questioning his, ” veto power” and authority in having a say in the selection of the coach as well as the members in the commentary team. All this however makes it clear that the Kohli-Kumble conflict is not just speculations but a solid reality.
Writes Guha, “If indeed the captain and the Head Coach were not getting along, why was not this attended to as soon as the Australia series was over in late March? Why was it left until the last minutes, when a major international tournament was imminent, and when the uncertainty would undermine the morale and ability to focus of the coach, the captain and the team.”
“And surely giving senior players the impression that they may have a veto power over the coach is another example of superstar culture gone berserk? Such a veto power is not permitted to any other top level professional team in any other sport in any other country,” he further states.
He also indirectly had a go at the Indian captain saying that the interference of the players in the selection of the coach and the commentary team today might as well lead to a future where they would even have a say in the appointment of the office bearers.
“Already, in a dismaying departure from international norms, current Indian players enjoy a veto power on who can be the members of the commentary team. If it is to be coaches next, then perhaps the selectors and even office-bearers will follow?” questions Guha.
He also condemned the, “superstar culture” prevalent in Indian cricket as a result of which Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who called it quits from his Test career is still being offered a Grade A contract.
“Unfortunately, this superstar syndrome has also distorted the system of Indian team contracts. As you will recall, I had pointed out that awarding M S Dhoni an ‘A’ contract when he had explicitly ruled himself out from all Test matches was indefensible on cricketing grounds, and sends absolutely the wrong message,” wrote Guha.
He also had harsh words for former Indian batting great Rahul Dravid and R Sridhar, the current fielding coach of the Indian team for holding both BCCI and IPL contracts.
Dravid is the coach of the India A side as well as the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL. Sridhar performs his role as the fielding coach for the Indian team as well as the Kings XI Punjab in the IPL.
“No person under contract with an India team, or with the NCA, should be allowed to moonlight for an IPL team too” says Guha in the letter.
He further questioned the BCCI for allowing them to do so. “The question of conflict of interest, which had laid unaddressed ever since the Committee began its work, and which I have been repeatedly flagging since I joined.”
He further adds, “For instance, the BCCI has accorded preferential treatment to some national coaches, by giving them ten month contracts for national duty, thus allowing them to work as IPL coaches/mentors for the remaining two months. This was done in an ad-hoc and arbitrary manner; the more famous the former player-turned-coach, the more likely was the BCCI to allow him to draft his own contract that left loopholes that he exploited to dodge the conflict of interest issue.”
He also had something in store for former Indian opener Sunil Gavaskar who besides being a part of the the commentary team, also has business interests in a firm known as Professional Management Group (PMG) which manages India’s opener- Shikhar Dhawan.
He tells Rai in the letter how he informed them about PMG signing up Dhawan’s endorsements. “Sunil Gavaskar is head of a company which represents Indian cricketers while commenting on those cricketers as part of the BCCI TV commentary panel. This is a clear conflict of interest. Either he must step down/ withdraw himself from PMG completely or stop being a commentator for BCCI” says Guha.
After Gavaskar, he targeted former skipper Sourav Ganguly for his “conflict of interest” as well. Ganguly is the President of the Cricket Association of Bengal and is a TV pundit besides having commentary commitments.
He says, “Conflict of interest is rampant in the State Associations as well. One famous former cricketer is contracted by media houses to comment on active players while serving as President of his State Association (read Ganguly).”
After all this, he finally urges his former CoA colleagues to stand up and take some, “bold decisions” regarding all these things. “COA’s credibility and effectiveness hinges on our being able to take bold and correct decisions on such matters. The ‘superstar’ culture that afflicts the BCCI means that the more famous the player (former or present) the more leeway he is allowed in violating norms and procedures.
“Dhoni was captain of the Indian team while holding a stake in a firm that represented some current India players. (Referring to Rhiti Sports that had Suresh Raina, Karn Sharma, RP Singh in its rolls). This must stop – and only we can stop it,” urged Guha.
(With inputs from The Times of India)