Cricket: Dialogue better than hostility

2016 ended with a bang on the field. 2017 has opened with a bang off it!

There is much apprehension over the implications of the Supreme Court verdict. I think we worry too much.

Change is always uncomfortable because it challenges set ways but once you adapt, like you do to a new house or a new school, you find it isn't all that it was feared to be.

I am a huge believer in the idea that the tide always comes in and brings with it fresh ideas, fresh talent and takes the world forward.

Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev seemed indispensable but we played cricket after them, as indeed we did after Dravid, Kumble and Tendulkar.

In essence, what the Lodha Commission was asking for wasn't impossible, it wasn't the end of the world.

At the heart of the recommendations was a desire for a greater degree of corporate governance and therefore, for transparency and accountability.

Those were not threats, those were generally accepted principles in all well-managed organisations.

And, in any case, if you are threatened by transparency and accountability, it means you have something to hide.

Many lesser luminaries than those that manned the Lodha Commission have been asking for this for years.

The debate should, instead, have centred around specific recommendations of the commission.

I didn't agree with a couple of those either (the cap on advertising or the composition of the committee to be named, for example), but I have little doubt that a constructive dialogue would have impressed the honourable retired judges whose intent was positive.

Instead, the BCCI took them on and created an US and THEM situation in which there was only going to be one winner.

The moment positions get entrenched, dialogue ceases and hostility reigns.

Then, there is no give and take and that is what the BCCI needed.

I can offer a reason why this critical dialogue didn't take place.

Sometimes, like athletes, administrators can live in a bubble too.

They can get sealed off from the outside world when, in effect, they must be in constant touch with it.

I am not talking only of the BCCI, but of very successful companies too.

Large companies have missed trends in the market because they thought what they knew was enough.

"We know best" are famous last words.

Successful people can sometimes start thinking they are invincible and that is largely because they are surrounded by people who are subservient to them, their future lies in saying "yes" and so the warning signs that come out of a challenge to prevailing thought get missed.

I have seen that with many top athletes and I fear this bubble might have come in the way of what could have been a constructive dialogue.

I have heard it said, most recently by Anurag Thakur, that the BCCI is the best run sports body in the country and continuously produces cricketers of high quality.

He is right, but to a limited extent.

The BCCI is by some distance India's best run sports body and nobody in world cricket looks after its cricketers better than it does.

But the BCCI is one of India's largest consumer product companies and therefore, must benchmark itself differently.

There is little honour in being better run than the Indian Olympic Association or the Cycling Federation, Sachin Tendulkar could have taken no credit for being a better batsman then I was!

The BCCI needed to benchmark itself against India's best run companies and then, they would not have allowed the state associations to get away with what was happening.

TCS would never let one of its outpost offices get away with what the DDCA was doing for example.

The BCCI did more things right than wrong but allowed the states to get away with too much because the vote was important.

More than 15 years ago, I had written that a four-letter word was at the heart of all the problems in Indian cricket.

The "vote" at the national, and even more so, at the state level was at the heart of the troubles.

The easy alternative is to say that players must run sporting bodies. It is a myth that has been allowed to perpetuate.

Yes, players with the right ability and temperament would make wonderful administrators and there are some like those in Indian cricket, but the generalisation is faulty.

We have in India's Cabinet someone who has probably never built a road doing, by all accounts, a wonderful job of running that ministry; an insurance executive took over an IPL franchise and is running it just fine.

I was hoping, and I wonder if it is too late, for people to cede a little ground, to move from their entrenched positions (not abandon them) and see what is best for Indian cricket.

I think a discussion works better than a revolution.

But the revolution is upon us and the way ahead lies in making the best of what comes your way.

The Lodha Commission needs to be very careful with their choice of people in the committee they nominate and I hope they cast their net wide enough for choices and recommendations.

The people they pick have to be relevant, contemporary and completely above board.

Having taken such a firm stance, they cannot dilute it with a committee that is uninformed or irrelevant.

These are interesting times, there will be turbulence but I am confident that, just as the congestion around a traffic light leads to greater order down the road, much good can come out of this.

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