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Amicus curiae in favour of five-member selection panel, vote for Railways

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The Supreme Court of India is moving towards a final verdict over the BCCI’s delays in implementing the Lodha Committee recommendations and adopting a fresh constitution as drafted by its Committee of Administrators (CoA).

At its last hearing on May 11, the court had asked amicus curiae Gopal Subramanium to study and respond to the objections and suggestions from the BCCI’s member units, the state associations, regarding the draft BCCI constitution drawn up by the CoA. The states have also been asked to submit their responses to Subramanium’s observations before the court convenes for the next hearing, scheduled on July 5.

Following is the summary of the submissions made by Subramanium concerning the various recommendations the BCCI members had objections to or said they could not implement.

One state one vote

The issue: As per the Lodha Committee, and seconded by the CoA, each Indian state could have only one Full Member association that would have a vote at the BCCI table. In the case of Maharashtra and Gujarat, which have multiple state associations due to their cricket history, the vote would be rotated annually. These associations – the Mumbai Cricket Association, the Maharashtra Cricket Association and the Vidarbha Cricket Association in Maharashtra, and the Gujarat Cricket Association, the Saurashtra Cricket Association and the Baroda Cricket Association in Gujarat – have opposed such a move.

Subramanium’s response: The amicus curiae said he approved the Lodha Committee’s reasoning to allocate a vote to each state on a “territorial” basis. He also said the court had “mandated” that each of the three associations within the state would get a vote on annual basis, which “brings parity and fairness”.

Subramanium said the one-state-one-vote reform provided “democratic equality” which was essential. “Unless sufficient prejudice is shown that a member by annual rotation is not able to effectively participate in the affairs of the BCCI, the Amicus is unable to recommend deviation from the position adopted by the Hon’ble Justice Lodha Committee, and as modified by the Principal Judgment.”

Railways can have a vote

The issue: The Lodha Committee and the CoA had also determined that the member associations that were either run by the government or had limited participation in BCCI events – such as the Association of Indian Universities (AIU), the Railway Sports Promotion Board (“Railways”) and the Services Sports Control Board (“Services”) along with the National Cricket Club (NCC), Kolkata, and the Cricket Club of India (CCI), Mumbai – would lose the vote they had enjoyed under the old BCCI constitution.

Subramanium’s response: The amicus said Railways ought to be treated as an “exception” based on the fact that the institution provides “at least 90%” of the players who play for India women. “In view of the security of employment of the players from Railways as well as the ability to demonstrate playing skills and having regard to women’s cricket as an integral part of Indian Cricket, it appears necessary to consider this as an exception.”

Subrmanium, though, said that the person from Railways casting the vote at the BCCI table would need to be a former player and not someone “nominated” by the government. “Such a decision must be undertaken by an association of former players who belong to the Railways.”

The rest of the associations in this group – the AIU, Services, NCC and CCI – did not qualify for full membership criteria, Subramaniam said.

Selection Committee strength

The issue: The BCCI has argued that the vast volume of cricket it conducts and the number of teams and tournaments under its jurisdiction justify a five-member selection panel for all three categories: men’s, women’s and junior. The Lodha Committee and the CoA had instead felt three-member panels were good enough.

Subramanium’s response: The amicus has recommended that the selection panel strength could be “increased” to five. He has also set a fresh set of criteria for to be a national selector: the candidate should have played a minimum of: a) seven Test Matches; or b) 30 first-class matches; or c) 10 ODIs and a minimum of 20 first-class matches.

The amicus felt an enhanced selection committee was “imminent” to “relieve” the burden of the existing three-member panel. This enhanced committed, Subrmanium said, should be finalised by the CoA in consultation with the cricket advisory committee.

Cooling-off period

The issue: The office bearers and administrators in both the BCCI and the state associations do not want a cooling-off period of three years after every three-year term as recommended by the Lodha Committee. The break, the administrators say, does not allow them enough time to advocate and execute plans and could hamper continuity.

Subramanium’s response: Subramaniam noted that the thrust of the Lodha Committee – which was “distressed” by the continued presence of office bearers, some for decades – was to “militate against self-perpetuation.” Subrmanium said the court has allowed office bearers to serve nine years each at state and BCCI separately, which he found to be a “substantial “period. “A period of 18 years by any stretch of imagination is indeed a substantial period,” the amicus said. “It is necessary that the expression ‘cooling off’ must necessarily mean that after a period of 3 years, the person is not able to migrate to the other Association and occupy the position as an office bearer or occupy any other position in the same Association.”

Division of powers between general body and professional management

The issue: Under the existing system, the BCCI secretary informally carries out the role of the CEO and shares power with the board president. Under the Lodha Committee’s recommendations, and as part of the new constitution, the role of the office bearers would be diminished while the CEO would be granted significant independent decision-making powers. Many of the BCCI members are against ceding control.

Subramanium’s response: According to the amicus the general body, which comprises the state associations, needs to be separate from the nine-person Apex Council through which the board’s chief executive officer directs the professional management of the BCCI. “It is necessary that this recommendation of the Hon’ble Justice Lodha Committee, as reflected in the Constitution, must be maintained and the professional management must be undertaken by the Apex Council through the CEO (who is also the custodian of the interests of players and fans), CFO and such other instrumentalities who are recruited on a totally transparent and professional basis.”

Subramaniam also stated that it would be “appropriate’ for the Court to consider whether the current BCCI office bearers – acting president CK Khanna, acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary and treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry – be asked to demit office as they had completed their “legally valid tenures of office”.



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SLC to support investigation into pitch-fixing allegations

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Sri Lanka Cricket will cooperate fully with the ICC in its investigations into allegations of pitch-fixing in two Test matches in the past, and potentially one later this year against England.

The board’s response came after TV news channel Al Jazeera claimed that a person involved in preparing the pitches in Galle for the Tests against India in 2017 and Australia in 2016 had tailored the surfaces according to instructions from a person involved in betting. The report also alleged that the Galle pitch for the Test against England later this year would also be made to order for betting.

“Mr Ashley de Silva, CEO of Sri Lanka Cricket is in contact with the CEO of the International Cricket Council Mr. David Richardson and the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit on the matter,” SLC said. “Sri Lanka Cricket wishes to state that it has zero tolerance towards corruption and will take immediate action against any person involved in the alleged incident, if found guilty.

“In the meantime, Sri Lanka Cricket is constantly engaged with the ICC and is following its guidelines on how to handle anti-corruption operations for the forthcoming tours in Sri Lanka.”

The ICC confirmed it was investigating the report. “The ICC is aware of an investigation into corruption in cricket by a news organisation and as you would expect we will take the contents of the programme and any allegations it may make very seriously,” Alex Marshall, ICC general manager Anti-Corruption Unit, said in a statement. “We have already launched an investigation working with anti-corruption colleagues from Member countries based on the limited information we have received. We have made repeated requests that all evidence and supporting materials relating to corruption in cricket is released immediately to enable us to undertake a full and comprehensive investigation.”

According to another head curator in Sri Lanka, however, the individual mentioned in the Al Jazeera report is not a curator, but someone in charge of the temporary staff working at the Galle stadium and was not in charge of either of the two Test pitches specified in the report.

The Al Jazeera report claimed that the individual – under instructions from the bettors – had made a batting-friendly surface for the India Test and a spin-friendly one for the Australia Test, but ESPNcricinfo can confirm the Sri Lanka team had in fact requested the actual curator for such surfaces. Additionally, Galle surfaces have often tended to be very spin-friendly, and are routinely result-oriented pitches, the last draw there having come in 2013.



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Hasan Raza caught on camera in alleged spot-fixing sting

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Former Pakistan batsman Hasan Raza has been filmed on camera by news channel Al Jazeera in the same room as another former cricketer – Robin Morris from Mumbai – talks about facilitating spot-fixing in T20 tournaments.

Raza does not participate in the conversation between Morris and the undercover reporter, but is seated in the chair adjacent to Morris. Raza and Morris both played for Mumbai Champs, a team in the now-defunct Indian Cricket League between 2007-08.

Al Jazeera said Hasan Raza did not respond to its allegations, while Morris “denies any wrongdoing” and said the channel invited him “to audition for, and act in, a commercial movie ‘for public entertainment’.”

In the video, part of a broader investigative documentary the channel will air from Sunday, Morris talks about setting up a T20 tournament for the purposes of spot-fixing and betting. He says that no A-grade players will be involved, but that he can bring in B, C, and D grade players. He talks of taking such tournaments from Dubai, to Hong Kong, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka.

In another location, poolside at a hotel, a person identified by Al Jazeera as Gaurav Rajkumar is seen and heard talking about organising a four-team T20 tournament in the UAE. Morris is also present during this conversation and later details how much money a corrupt player stands to make by facilitating spot-fixing in such tournaments.

Al Jazeera said Rajkumar also claimed the channel invited him to act in a movie for public entertainment.

The videos were released on the same day that Al Jazeera also alleged that a person involved in the preparation of pitches in Galle, Sri Lanka, for the Tests against India in 2017 and Australia in 2016 had tailored the surfaces according to instructions from a person involved in betting. The report also alleged that the Galle pitch for the Test against England later this year would also be made to order for betting.



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CSK, Sunrisers reflect on challenges overcome on eve of grand final

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The two IPL 2018 finalists have traversed contrasting paths during the past seven weeks to get to Mumbai. And now they face off for the fourth time this season, after overcoming very different challenges.

Sunrisers Hyderabad will play their second IPL final but for their new captain Kane Williamson, it will be his first. They have largely banked on Williamson’s batting and strangled oppositions with their bowling attack, and Sunrisers coach Tom Moody said succeeding on different kind of pitches – especially adapting to flat ones – was their strength.

“They [bowlers] have done an excellent job,” Moody said while sitting next to Williamson at the team hotel in Mumbai. “There’s no question about that. We played on a number of varied wickets throughout the tournament and we’ve managed to adjust pretty effectively with Kane’s leadership with regards to how he used those bowlers through the 20 overs. We’ve managed to – more often than not – get it right.

“I guess those experiences of playing on some wickets that the team found flat has been really good for us. We did come across a couple of surfaces which were quite different than what we had played a lot of our games on. Yes, we didn’t get the results that we wanted but what we did get was compete in every single one of those games. We didn’t have an occasion this year where we were smashed up in any game. Even last night, perhaps a lot of people thought after the seventh over we’re out of the contest, but that was certainly not the mind set of the 11 players on the field.”

Their opponents Chennai Super Kings are in the final in their first season back after serving a two-year suspension. MS Dhoni and Stephen Fleming were together at Rising Pune Supergiant for those two years as well, and are reaping the benefits of those experiences – second from bottom in 2016 and second from top in 2017 – with their original franchise. Among their problems were the average age of their squad, a couple of tournament-ending injuries, and losing home advantage after playing only one game in Chennai.

“The challenge this year was slightly different to what we faced in the past seven-eight years,” Dhoni said on the eve of the IPL final. “The age group of the boys was definitely a concern as we had to keep them fit because of the frequency of the games. You have to manoeuvre your resources and you have to look at the bigger picture, to make sure that when we come to the business end of the tournament, our best XI is available.

“I was saddened that we couldn’t play our home matches in Chennai but I was still happy that we played at least one match. Our fans waited a very long time for this moment.”

CSK’s strength has been how different players have stepped up one after another to steal wins from oppositions. Faf du Plessis’ 67 against Sunrisers earlier this week was the latest example. It also meant Dhoni has plenty of resources to choose from, which showed when he did not bowl Harbhajan Singh at all in the first qualifier. In typical philosophical mode, Dhoni said having experience in his “old” squad made a difference, but that was not all a T20 team needed.

“Yes, we want to contribute as a team but it is always good when an individual takes the game away from the opposition as it makes the job of the others easy,” Dhoni said. “Experience really counts but it’s not that it always matters. It is not something that can’t be replaced.

“It is good that whenever we have played we have had at least two good fielders or outstanding fielders, that can man that deep midwicket position. We have done well so far but it is something that can hurt us at any time.

“There are times especially when you have six to seven bowlers in the side, you see the conditions, who is batting and what is needed at that point. I have always said in the past when we had [Pawan] Negi and [Ravindra] Jadeja I always gave them different slots in bowling. I see the conditions and what is best for the team, and then decide who to bowl, who has the best chance against the batsman. It is always tough, in the last game I didn’t feel it was necessary to bowl him (Harbhajan), and I didn’t bowl him.”

Fleming, the CSK coach, was aware that Sunrisers also had individual performers standing up, citing Rashid Khan’s example, and joked while looking at Williamson and Moody at the press conference table to say, “he won’t probably be able to do it tomorrow because having to do it twice in a row is tough.”

Fleming brought up the point of how the CSK squad had been “written off after the auction” and said having different performers contribute to wins was “a characteristic of our campaign that we needed.”

“I guess teams win competitions when individuals can win finals, so we’re game for that match-winning performance and it’s going to have to come because the opposition is very good,” Fleming said.

Despite having loads of experience in the squad, Fleming and Dhoni also carry the burden of a poor record in finals, having won only two out of six with CSK, and losing one for Rising Pune Supergiant against Mumbai Indians last year. Williamson also carries baggage but of a different kind – of losing three matches to CSK already this year.



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