Sunday, June 02, 2013

BCCI: From J. Dalmiya to N. Srinivasan (via L. Modi) to J. Dalmiya again

In the early 1990s, the attempt to convert BCCI into a money-spinner was started by Jagmohan Dalmiya and IS Bindra. Of the two, I would say Dalmiya was the real financial brain. Right upto when Dalmiya was ousted by Sharad Pawar in 2005, Dalmiya remained the most powerful man in BCCI. Even when Dalmiya was in ICC between 1996-2000, he was remote-controlling BCCI, in particular when it came to commercial activities of the board.

It took quite a bit of effort and political maneuvering by Sharad Pawar to get Dalmiya's representatives defeated and also initiate criminal proceedings against Dalmiya and get him banned and pushed out of BCCI and West Bengal Cricket Association for a few years. During this period, Lalit Modi was the key finance man. Finally, Modi was thrown out in 2010 and driven out of India, on charges of corruption and more.

Around this time, N. Srinivasan of the BCCI was the most capable man to handle the financial negotiations of the board.

Now, his place has become untenable.

Despite these black marks, all these three have contributed immensely to BCCI. I will also add that, none other than these three have contributed to the finances of the board. A few others have been board president and secretary over this period, but have simply deferred to these three men on almost all key matters.

Whatever setbacks they have faced, they will continue to be the most important people in the affairs of BCCI in the years to come as well. This is because of their special skills, an archaic working model of the board and manner in which board elections happen.

Let us take Dalmiya. He has single-handedly changed the way of working of not just BCCI but also ICC. He established clear commercial sources for BCCI such as (1) TV rights (2) Player sponsorship (3) tournament/tour sponsorship and ensured the best deals possible for the board. He made the board cash rich. He was also ambitious and managed the election process beautifully and lapped up all the associate member votes to get elected to the ICC President post in 1996. The world cricketing biggies of that time England and Australia kept him away for one whole year. But he came back strongly and convincingly and pushed aside all the technicalities and took over as President of ICC in 1997.

The first activity he got involved in was to generate the finances for ICC. ICC at that time was running from a single room at The Lord's, given to it by the England Cricket Board, and the subsidy money from ECB and ACB. It had only 4 staff or so. World Cup rights were with the respective organizing country. Dalmiya created ICC Champions Trophy out of thin air (the first edition was called Wills International Cup) and brought ICC the TV rights deal and immediately made ICC financially self sufficient. 1999 World Cup remained the last one under the control of an individual board (in this case, ECB) and then this lucrative championship was handed over to ICC. This happened during Dalmiya's reign.

Dalmiya had become too powerful in the board and it appeared that no one could dislodge him. He was too shrewd to pick up dummy candidates as fronts and ran the board behind them. Only wily Pawar could dislodge him and it took the powerful central minister more than an year to make this happen.

It was during Pawar's time that L. Modi rose up. Pawar was content with winning the presidency, but was not really interested in (nor capable of) managing the affairs of BCCI, most notably the pesky commercial activities. An ambitious and young L. Modi was ready at hand. A Vice-President under Pawar, he took it upon himself the task of commercial negotiations. Others simply moved away making way for him.

Modi however inherited the arrogance of Dalmiya (but not Dalmiya's shrewdness). Modi, for his part, had to do new things to go one up on Dalmiya. A country's board controls commercial rights to only the home matches. When matches were played in neutral venues such as Sharjah or Toronto, the rights were held by the local cricket associations. Modi tried to create a completely new set of rights for India, through one-day tournaments in neutral venues where the local countries had no role whatsoever. This flopped eventually, but still you have to grant it to Modi to have thought of something like this. No one else had thought about this.

However Modi's greatest baby was IPL. For this to happen, first Zee owned ICL had to be finished off. Modi did that extremely well. Then, he did an excellent job of launching IPL. He had the temerity to take the Indian Government on and moved IPL to South Africa at such a short notice, when P. Chidambaram as Home Minister asked for postponing the tournament citing Indian elections.

Corruption was his downfall as in the case of Dalmiya. Dalmiya at least exonerated himself by getting BCCI to drop all the charges against him, whereas Modi is a fugitive (as pointed out by Srinivasan correctly!) still. Whatever Modi's shenanigans are with IPL, he created a significant additional revenue stream for BCCI.

N. Srinivasan was the best placed to manage the commercial activities of BCCI from this point. Unlike Dalmiya, Srinivasan was late to BCCI, but it had to do with more powerful forces in TNCA which had not allowed someone like Srinivasan to get into BCCI. But once Srinivasan got into BCCI, there was no stopping him. That is until now.

The news today is that J. Dalmiya's has been suggested as an interim president.

I don't have great regard for any of the three mentioned above. Dalmiya is wily, Modi is outright shady while Srinivasan has clear conflicts of interest. Srinivasan however is more cricket friendly and has supported cricket for a long long time.

All these controversies aside, I expect that Dalmiya and Srinivasan will be running Indian cricket (together) at least for the next decade. Modi will forever be out. Pawar and co. do not have the commercial nous to manage BCCI. All Pawar and co. have succeeded in is to temporarily cause a setback to Srinivasan.

And I don't like this at all. There is no way there will be a thorough clean up of BCCI.

1 comment:

  1. Why do even BCCI warrants an interest ? Isnt it jus a private society akin to An Apartment Owners association or a 'Manamagizh Manram" ? Its members can do anything on it, and if there are any issues, the members may complain on office bearers to registrar of societies in Chenna(as BCC is registered and headquartered in Chennai) . In Fact, I doubt if even the players are members of the BCCI society. They may be akin to external music parties contracted to play during events of the society.