When Duncan Fletcher signed up to be India’s coach, he did so in part because he felt the country’s cricket administration had modernized over the past decade. He didn’t go into details — at least not in print — but I imagine he was referring to the BCCI’s growing appreciation for the business of the sport, or its introduction of a contract system for players.
But read Rahul Mehra’s list of suggestions for the BCCI. The recommendations, composed during an extended legal battle with the sporting body, are by turns illuminating and depressing. (Some may have been enacted since Mehra began his crusade in 2000). Like:
1. The offices suck: “The BCCI’s current head office is in a ramshackle state, containing just three computers and no proper toilets. In the cramped office sit eight huge steel cupboards used as a dumping ground for official records and trophies, rarely if ever retrieved once stored.”
2. The National Cricket Academy is a mess. “The main problems with NCA are its short duration, the academy only operates for 5 months in a year, and an inadequate system to monitor players after they leave the academy.” (The facility is also shared with a local state association, so it’s not completely under the purview of the BCCI.)
3. State Association elections are crazy. “Our State Associations in India have electorates comprised of members of social clubs, many of whom are not directly involved on a day-to-day or even week-to-week basis either in a local cricket club’s administration or the State Association’s administrative functioning. As a result, elections have become an exercise in vote bank politics and gift-giving, as opposed to referenda on cricket policy within a state or region.”
When people talk about “modernity,” they mean a new model that relies less on the personal, and more on the administrative. It’s less face-to-face and more systematic. Amateurs are thrown out; professionals with competence proven by academic degrees or accepted norms designating experience are in. No doubt, modernity presents a whole range of new problems — e.g., it may ruin the variety and diversity of cricket — but it also should ensure that privileged elites protected by tradition and patronage are sidelined by a more skilled meritocracy.
So this is what is at stake, people. This is what we want when we see a team lose 4-0 to England. Can it happen?