| Kapil Dev
Mumbai: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has met Kapil Dev’s challenge by sacking him as chairman of its Bangalore-located National Cricket Academy.
India’s only World Cup-winning captain, who is heading the Zee-promoted Indian Cricket League (ICL), had recently dared Sharad Pawar and his men to remove him.
The BCCI, perhaps, had no choice but to flex its muscles. By no means has it been a victory, though. For the record, Tuesday evening’s announcement merely stated Kapil had “ceased” to function as the Academy chairman.
Eleven months ago, Kapil had replaced another icon, Sunil Gavaskar. Getting a full-time successor — vice-chairman Ajay Shirke holds fort till next month’s AGM — may not exactly be easy for the Pawar regime.
In keeping with its insensitive practice, nobody from the BCCI bothered to inform Kapil before informing the world. Still, Kapil maintained: “I’m not shocked or surprised… It’s not that lightning has struck me…”
The BCCI’s “unanimous” decision, conforming to the tough ‘them-or-us’ line adopted during the August 8 office-bearers’ meeting in New Delhi, was reached after a 30-minute SGM.
Somewhat emotionally, former president Raj Singh Dungarpur called it a “sad day” for Indian cricket. “It’s a sad day when somebody of Kapil’s stature is removed from any post,” he told The Telegraph.
Yet, at the SGM, Raj Singh had kept silent. In fact, absolutely nobody defended Kapil.
Raj Singh isn’t keeping good health and missed the first SGM, where dozens of amendments to the constitution were pushed through. The one of interest to Kapil and the Avishek Jhunjhunwalas was taken up after he returned from Bombay Hospital.
The ICL wasn’t mentioned by name, but those who’ve associated themselves with it simply won’t be allowed to have anything to do with the BCCI.
“The players are the ones who’ve taken a decision… They can’t have one foot here and the other there (in the ICL)… If they’ve made a choice, we wish them luck,” remarked the treasurer and spokesman, N. Srinivasan.
In any case, the constitution has been amended. The relevant portion now reads “… Any individual deriving financial or any other benefit shall not associate himself with an unapproved tournament. The working committee would take appropriate action, including suspension and stoppage of financial benefits and any other action against individuals/members contravening rules.”
So, it’s not just the current players who get affected. All former cricketers, including Kapil, stand to lose monthly pensions.
Srinivasan, one understands, “briefed” the members on the latest developments once the second SGM got underway. Pawar also had a few things to share.
“We don’t want to make much of it (the ICL)… That some players have moved away isn’t a reflection of the way state associations are running cricket… We’re doing a good job,” Srinivasan insisted.
Whatever, if not anything else, it has to be hugely embarrassing that even teenagers have opted for the ICL.
According to well-placed sources, even if a player has a rethink after one season (their contracts are for three), he won’t be taken back into the BCCI’s fold.
“That’s the understanding we’ve reached,” informed a state association president. He added: “It’s not that the ICL is being seen as a threat… At the moment, it’s no more than an irritant… The picture could’ve been different had some really big names been paraded or announced yesterday (Monday)…”
Incidentally, the issue of Union railways minister Lalu Prasad offering use of the railways infrastructure to the ICL was discussed indirectly.
Pawar, Lalu’s colleague, explained that the stadiums belong to the ministry and not the Railways Sports Control Board, which is affiliated to the BCCI. The affiliated unit, therefore, can’t be taken to task.
Footnote: Some members of the Bihar Players’ Association courted arrest outside the Cricket Centre at the Wankhede (where the BCCI is headquartered), when they were prevented from protesting with a massive banner. They’ve been complaining about a raw deal for quite some time.