At a time when the functioning of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is plagued by an intense power struggle between the office bearers and the Supreme Court- appointed Committee of Administrators (COA), two legends find themselves caught in the crossfire.
During the 2018 IPL, COA was faced with a tough decision to make: should Ravi Shastri, coach of India’s senior team and Rahul Dravid, India A head coach, be allowed to do commentary duties?
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Shastri, who has had a longer stint as a cricket broadcaster than player, had informally enquired if he could continue as a commentator in the IPL..
In one internal communication, COA head Vinod Rai had suggested both could be listed as ‘BCCI commentators’.
The BCCI office bearers got in the act and read the COA stance as ‘inconsistent’ and ‘insincere’ on Conflict of Interest.
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Later, at a COA meeting on April 12th, the administrators decided against allowing Shastri and Dravid to commentate with a rejoinder.
“The COA will separately consider whether a submission should be made to the Honorable Supreme Court to relook at the conflict of interest provisions under the draft Memorandum of Association and Rules and Regulations of BCCI recommended by the Honorable Justice Lodha Committee (“New BCCI constitution”) insofar as the same are not in the interests of Indian cricket,” the minutes of the meeting said.
This attracted further criticism from the BCCI old guard who accused the COA of double standards in light of the fact that the BCCI legal tangle itself has resulted out of conflict of interest situations.
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Ultimately the COA backed out of making any such submission to the court when given the option last month of recommending any constitutional modifications to the amicus curiae.
Sources close to COA say all they were trying to do is to explore if they could make the best use of available resource pool. “Since Dravid and Shastri are on annual BCCI contract and they were free during the IPL, COA were trying to see if their services could be maximised. Ultimately it was decided, not to pursue the matter in light of the current nature of conflict of interest guidelines,” a BCCI source told India Today.
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Unlike India, Australian cricket allowed selector Mark Waugh to continue with part time commentary assignments during his stint before he recently decided not to renew his selection contract, reverting to full time broadcasting duties from August.
Dravid who served as a commentator, on and off after retirement and before taking up full time coaching, was seen as a new and refreshing addition in the Indian cricket broadcast space. Shastri has been one of more popular and longest serving cricket broadcasters from India. For now, both will continue to stay away from the mike.