The Telegraph
 
CIMA Gallary

‘Enthusiast’ fig leaf lost, hour of shame

Calcutta, Feb.10: Everybody is looking at everybody else! But is Narayanswamy Srinivasan looking at the mirror?

Men in the International Cricket Council (ICC) are looking to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI); administrators within the country are looking to the Supreme Court.…

Then, there’s the fine print: just what are the contents of the sealed cover, submitted separately to the Supreme Court, by the Justice Mukul Mudgal committee?

Have senior cricketers actually been named and shamed by Justice Mudgal and his colleagues, additional solicitor-general of India L. Nageswar Rao and senior advocate Nilay Dutta?

On the face it, the contents of the sealed cover could be far more damaging than the committee’s indictment of Gurunath Meiyappan, son-in-law of Srinivasan, the BCCI president.

At this stage, one may only speculate with regard to the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), owned by India Cements, whose face is Srinivasan.

Predictably, the Lalit Kumar Modis have renewed their call to terminate the franchise agreement with CSK, but will the IPL’s governing council, which is an integral part of the BCCI, take such a step?

Srinivasan, after all, okays everything.

It’s also significant that Ranjib Biswal, the IPL chairman, is Srinivasan’s choice.

The committee has indicted Meiyappan, who’d been arrested by Mumbai police last May, for betting and passing on (obviously privileged) information.

But did Meiyappan also indulge in either match-fixing or spot-fixing? That has to be probed.

The committee has, of course, torn to shreds Srinivasan’s laughable contention that Meiyappan had been no more than an enthusiast.

An enthusiast who had the “Team Principal” accreditation!

As the committee was appointed by the Supreme Court, all eyes are on the apex institution. Specifically, on March 7, when “appropriate orders” will be passed.

The terms of reference didn’t include the conflict of interest bit, so the committee didn’t pronounce its “opinion” on something plaguing Srinivasan.

Keep that aside, isn’t it bad enough that the BCCI president’s son-in-law has been indicted on counts that could lead to criminal prosecution?

Such is Srinivasan’s hold over the BCCI that nobody who spoke to The Telegraph wished to be named.

In fact, in keeping with tradition when there’s a crisis, most in the BCCI didn’t take calls. Those who did were cagey, lest word get to their Master and retribution follow.

“The next 48 hours are crucial.… Let’s see if somebody takes the initiative within the BCCI.… In any case, we don’t know how the Supreme Court will take the committee’s report forward,” is how a former president put it.

Another former president was more forthcoming. He said: “I don’t see anything happening.… When Srinivasan survived on June 2 last year (at an emergent working committee meeting, in Chennai), what will happen now?

“It’s nice to talk about moral values and moral grounds, but people in the BCCI don’t understand moral grounds and moral values.… So, forget ethics… I’ll be surprised if somebody takes a stand publicly.”

An absolutely disillusioned gentleman.

Many are looking to Sharad Pawar, who is back as the Mumbai Cricket Association president, to take the lead. But, with the general election months away, he has to deal with bigger issues on the political front.

That Srinivasan is set to become the ICC’s first chairman after its restructuring means that the developments have ramifications beyond India’s shores.

Among other things, the ICC is committed to upholding the integrity of the game and it’s odd, to say the least, if the about-to-become No.1 man’s own house is under scrutiny.

Strictly technically, a son-in-law isn’t covered in the “immediate family” classification spelt out by the ICC, but won’t Srinivasan be compromised?

Late in the day, that question was doing the rounds.

Srinivasan has consistently maintained that he shouldn’t be hanged for the acts of his son-in-law, but.…

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court hasn’t stayed the IPL VII auction, scheduled for Wednesday-Thursday, but what if CSK eventually face penal action?

Expect a bigger mess.

PANEL at play

What the Supreme Court-appointed panel probing IPL betting and spot-fixing said about BCCI president N. Srinivasan, his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, and Rajasthan Royals part-owner Raj Kundra

Gurunath

● Gurunath’s role as team official in Chennai Super Kings (owned by Srinivasan’s company India Cements) stands proved. Material on record indicates he was ‘the face of CSK’

● The charges of betting and passing of (team) information against Gurunath stand proved

● Police testimony, FIR, chargesheet and phone transcripts (though voice samples not proved forensically) suggest he placed bets through Vindoo Dara Singh — both for and against CSK and on matches
involving other teams

● The fixing charges against Gurunath need further investigation, especially relating to the May 12 Jaipur match between Rajasthan Royals and CSK

● Gurunath violated IPL rules and codes of conduct relating to bringing the game into disrepute

● CSK failed to ensure that Gurunath complied with BCCI and IPL codes and rules. So, CSK’s actions violate IPL operational rules and franchise agreement

● India Cements told this panel that Gurunath was not related in any way with CSK, which “appears to be contradicting the factual position”

● These conclusions are not a pronouncement of guilt — that is the domain of the courts

Srinivasan

● The conflict-of-interest charges arising from Srinivasan being BCCI president as well as MD of India Cements that owns CSK are “serious” and may have “large-scale ramifications on the functioning of cricket”. But since the matter “is not directly in our terms of reference, we thought it proper to bring this issue to the attention of (the apex court)”

● People unconnected with BCCI pointed out that the conflict of interest was brought about by amending BCCI rules to allow its officials to hold commercial interest in the IPL and Champions League

Kundra

● The betting and spot-fixing charges against Kundra need further probe. But it’s evident that “he resorted to betting through Umesh Goenka”

Advice

● Seniors like Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman, Kumble and Venkatesh Prasad should advise and caution the IPL teams, especially the younger players, about the pitfalls

● Leads received from players and others should be kept confidential and must be investigated, unlike the “current practice of not investigating unless an outside agency (like media) brings forth a sporting fraud”
l No person holding office in BCCI should have the power to curtail, restrict or define any such investigation

● Players should not be allowed any stakes or interests, other than sponsorships or endorsements, in player
agencies or companies involved with cricket. Employment of the players in franchise group companies should be avoided

● BCCI should recruit retired Indian military and police officers of repute to handle corruption and fixing cases, and not “spend enormous sums of money on ICC-deputed anti-corruption instructors”

● BCCI should issue (anti-corruption) instructions in “the local language understood by the concerned players”

● BCCI should have a system of registering player agents after background checks to keep out those with “links to bookies or the underworld”. Player agents should not be allowed to travel with the team or stay in the team hotel

SEALED MYSTERY

● The panel handed the court a sealed cover containing information relating to “allegations of other sporting fraud” involving officials and players. The bench went through the contents and asked the court master to reseal the envelope. It will remain so till the court decides how to proceed on the matter.