The long-drawn shrill drama with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president N Srinivasan at its centre ended on a frustrating note on Sunday. Instead of resigning from his post, Srinivasan has merely stepped aside for a temporary period pending the probe into the spot-fixing and betting scandal. His defiance in the face of massive public outrage has done cricket a great disservice.
The drama in Chennai may have been great fodder for the media, but for now it looks impossible that cricket will regain its former glory any time soon. Srinivasan has managed to demolish whatever little credibility the BCCI had. Adding salt to the wounds of cricket fans, he has got former BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmia to step into his shoes for the time being. Such a move has the potential to kill the possibility of an impartial probe into the murky scandal.
Srinivasan’s refusal to quit in the face of collective outrage is reflective of a bigger malaise afflicting India. It shows how corruption has eaten into the foundations of nearly every institution. At the heart of the endemic problem is a system that not only discourages transparency and accountability, but also nips every effort to cleanse it of corrupt practices in the bud. With cricket being a huge money-spinner, it suits its bosses to keep things opaque. Srinivasan’s arrogance shows that he has scant respect for the consequences of his actions.
Politicians are equally to blame for landing the BCCI in this mess. The links between politicians and sports federations have deep roots and disastrous consequences, as we have been witnessing every day. It’s difficult to ignore similarities between politicians and sports federation bosses like Srinivasan, who, even under intense media scrutiny, and the shadow of suspicion, are loathe to stage an honourable exit. No wonder then that politicians kept mum instead of asking Srinivasan to resign. They simply lacked the moral right to do so.
The time has come to take tough decisions. Without doubt the administration governing cricket is neck-deep in corruption. The only way out of this mess is to evolve a new mechanism that will have zero-tolerance for unethical practices. For that to happen, the first step is to move politicians out of governing bodies of cricket associations at the central and regional levels. The BCCI, which till now has failed this cricket-loving nation, must go for a complete overhaul. It had an opportunity to do so now, but refused to rise to the occasion. It’s a sad day for cricket in India.