Nothing new in what Manohar has said (Column: Just Sport)

Just go through the speech of the late Jagmohan Dalmiya after he became president of the Indian cricket board unanimously for a second term in March under the changed constitution. Juxtapose it with that of his successor Shashank Manohar’s longish and plainspoken media interaction on Sunday to see if there is any difference in intent.

Dalmiya, in a weak and infirm tone, promised to restore the board to its pristine glory while Manohar vowed to end corruption in the board by laying down stiffer norms.

Dalmiya did not know why he was elected president again when he was not physically and mentally in a position to take up the charge, whereas Manohar, all though expressing his reluctance to be back at the helm, did his homework with a checklist to cleanse the board.

One good thing Manohar did was to obliquely admit that much of the corruption takes place in the board at the state associations’ level by talking of scrutinising their balance-sheets even as he talked of educating the players, an exercise which is in force for two years.

How will he punish the corrupt officials? He found the usual way out, promising to appoint an independent ombudsman like the politicians swearing by the Lok Pal and Lokayukta and in the same breath opposing the RTI and questioning the PILs! The ombudsman is to address all issues of conflict of interest.

Manohar repeated for the nth time that the board doesn’t have investigating powers so it would approach a government investigative agency, though it is all so simple to proceed against errant officials who show their association in the red on fudged books, showing cooked up expenditure.

All the openness and bringing far-reaching amendments to the board’s constitution Manohar stated were part of the Vision Document of Team Pawar of which he was a key person along with Inderjit Singh Bindra, Srinivasan and Lalit Modi. All the measures he has now promised to put on the board’s website were to be part of the portal it was to launch.

Barring a few honourable exceptions most associations will find it difficult to explain the holes in their balance-sheets to the auditors. If Manohar is allowed to carry his threat to its logical conclusion he will have to suspend quite a few state associations, headed by political big-wigs, as their balance-sheets may not pass the eagle eye of an independent auditor.

What the new chief should ask the units is to put in serious efforts in augmenting their resources instead of enjoying the Rs.25-Rs.30 crore annual grants as most of them invariably show losses even from the money-spinning One-Dayers. Worse, one state association is paying a maintenance allowance to club secretaries, you know for what!

Does Manohar have nerve to stop the warring groups in most associations from approaching lower courts to settle scores and higher courts to buy time over long-drawn-out battles?

It all sounds milk and honey when Manohar says all the old records and documents will be available for the member-associations to have a look but what will officials do with them as most of them will read like photocopies. The documents should be in public domain.

Or, for that matter, what is the big deal Manohar abstaining from casting chairman’s vote in board election leaving it to majority view until the constitution is amended. The vote may remain in the amended constitution,too.

Coming to Manohar’s own flip flops in the last couple of years, he cannot disown his role in all that had happened with the Indian Premier League (IPL) as much of the mess took place right under his nose. He cannot get away with self-attested character certificates and the talk of unimpeachable credibility of his.

Interestingly, he has been rubbishing Narayanaswamy Srinivasan, who was the secretary when he was the president, for everything that is wrong with the IPL in the last two years and today he says he is the best board secretary after Dalmiya!

Like Dalmiya and Srinivasan, Manohar also tries to wriggle out of inconvenient questions by counter-questioning, sounding a shade less haughty than the other two.

Still, Manohar needs to answer some uncomfortable questions like how he allowed Lalit Modi to get away with so much of power as the IPL chief and then dumped him unceremoniously once he outlived the board’s utility.

Also, why did he keep quiet when first Dalmiya and then Srinivasan were riding roughshod over the board? Worse, being a lawyer he should have questioned some of the illegitimate decisions during their tenure, instead of appearing to be acquiescing with them.

There was a time when he even defied his Sharad Pawar, a close friend of his father, to be in Srinivasan’s corner in making sure Lalit Modi, the man who conceived the idea and execution of the IPL, is nowhere near Indian cricket.

Transparency is Manohar’s leitmotif and he has structured a halo of a hermit around him with some personal friends hailing his simplicity, honesty and frankness. But his silence at critical junctures made him a mortal and vulnerable.

Lastly, he can afford to talk of bringing young administrators into the board just as some make a case for former Test stars coming into board’s administrative set-up.

It is the board that hands out positions like selectors, advisers, coaches and members of technical committee, not that the cricketers fight elections to be there. Careerist officials will always want the cricketers to be beholden to them.

Imagine a cricketer-turned administrator Ghulam Ahmed, who served the board in all capacities, excused himself from becoming the board president of a morally fast deteriorating board!

(Veturi Srivatsa is a senior journalist. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at

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