Board of Control for Cricket in India, BCCI, is known to be the riches cricket board in the world and one of the most powerful boards in the field. A board’s function must be to make the players’ lives simpler and hassle free. The board directs its players to the right patch and creates more opportunities for the team and the players involved at various possible avenues. But BCCI’s ‘Conflict of Interest’ rule seems to be making life tougher for the Indian players while on the other hand, the lives of foreign players are totally unaffected of the same rule. Players from overseas who come to India in search of work which is large number, close to 70% of the globally-generated cricket employment, are not restricted by this rule. Then the question is why bias against the cricket fraternity which is our own? What Indian players, coaches and support staff has to suffer because of this rule?
WHAT IS ‘CONFLICT OF INTEREST’ RULE?
This rule came into existence because of the justice RM Lodha led committee. Conflict of Interest rule binds a professional working in India’s cricket fraternity for one year. The professional engaged in one assignment cannot indulge himself in some other work. The nature of work is of no consideration in this regard. It doesn’t matter if the professional is engaged in commentary, franchise related work, coaching, mentoring, analytics, training, physiotherapy or is in touch with BCCI or its members within India, if he is engaged in one task, he can not opt for one additional assignment.
You can find endless examples of the players in Indian cricket who have fallen prey to this rule which needs to be looked at again with a fresh perspective. Let’s look at Rahul Dravid who is a potential candidate for many important tasks in the world of cricket. But the former cricketer has had the fortune of becoming director of National Cricket Academy which means now, he cannot work overseas or in Indian cricket. He doesn’t even have the prospect of becoming a commentator or a consultant just because the talented player said yes to the post of NCA director. Even players like Sachin Tendulkar cannot get away from the trap of this rule. His 12 year old association with Mumbai Indians comes under radar because he has also been a part of cricket advisory committee which is fundamentally inoperative.
Another aspect of the same rule which draws a lot of attention is the same professionals working for Indian cricket while they are engaged in overseas projects. If a cricket professional is apart of overseas national team, he has all the rights to work for IPL. Again the nature of assignment doesn’t matter. The professional could be working for overseas franchise in a separate T20 league, the International Cricket Council or Marylebone Cricket Club , he is free to work for Indian cricket as well. Why this hypocrisy? This is the big question that has been revolving in many minds since Rule 38 came into existence in the Board’s constitution.
LET’S LOOK AT WHAT INIDAN PLAYERS CANNOT DO
The world of Indian cricket is replate with the names which have the potential of doing so much but cannot because there is a rule that binds them to one task and takes away the freedom of exploring new avenues for themselves. Sunil Gawaskar has established himself as a commentator after his career on the field but did he have the option of turning his attention to some other aspect of the game? He has been so tied down because of this rule that an Indian player cannot spend even a week under the legend’s guidance because all he is allowed to do is commentary. On the other hand, Brenden McCullum who is a commentator overseas can turn to India during the season of IPL to become coach for various franchises.
Marylebone Cricket Club is not a name which is unheard of in cricket world. It is a highly respected cricket club and to be associated with the MCC is a matter of hour for any cricket professional. But the irony is that the BCCI President and MCC President do not share the same rights. While MCC president, Kumar Sangakkara, is free to hold on to the post and also do commentary on the game, BCCI president, Sourav Ganguly, can not get involved with the commentary because he is restricted by Rule 38. Anil Kumble, the chairman of the ICC cricket committee can work as the coach of Kings XI Punjab in the IPL but Pravin Amre who is a talent scout with Mumbai Indians is restricted to one team only.
BIAS IN THE COACHING FIELD
The same bias that the players have to face at other positions is to be faced while working as a coach too. Ravi Shastri, the coach of Indian team cannot provide guidance to any other team. Bowling coach, Bharat Arun and fielding coach R Sridhar are also bound to stay with team India only and cannot deviate their attention to any other field or team. However, Australian batting coach, Ricky Ponting has been given the responsibility of coaching Delhi Capitals, an IPL franchise. Rahul Dravid had to quit the positin of a coach when he wanted to accept the directorship of the NCA and the most ironical aspect is that Ponting had been offered Dravid’s position. Simon Katich is another name in the same list. He is handling multiple jobs in the cricket field at the same time and it has not given way to any conflict.
We can go on and on citing examples of the players and officials who have been suffering silently because of one rule which has not been looked at again since it has been listed down in the constitution of the BCCI. The rules are either tractable or intractable but Rule 38, special as it is, leaves the matter more complicated. It is high time that the board decides to give it another look for the betterment of Indian cricket and cricketers.