The lines had blurred long back. The appointment of Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni as vice- president of Indian Cements, which is owned by cricket Board president N Srinivasan, has only brought out the worst kept secret of Indian cricket.
All along, the relationship between Dhoni and Srinivasan has been too cozy for comfort, much to the dismay of many in the cricketing fraternity. The new development means that the relationship is now deeply embedded in the cricketing establishment.
Dhoni, the captain of the Indian team and the Chennai Super Kings, owned by India Cements, has now got a top position in the company as well.
The Board president is the managing director- cum- vice- chairman of the company. The conflict of interest could not have been starker.
After the final One- Day International against England, Dhoni had expressed a desire to take rest and not play in the Irani Cup in the run- up to the Test series against Australia.
“ No plans to play in Irani Cup as of now,” Dhoni had said when he was asked whether he would be available for the domestic fixture. So it came as a surprise when the Indian captain’s name was included in the India Cements squad for the Corporate Trophy that began on Friday.
Dhoni had earlier played in Corporate Trophy for national carrier Air India but has now resigned from the company.
Dhoni is perhaps the only player, after Sachin Tendulkar, who enjoyed the luxury of having breaks in between the busy international schedule. Sure the pressure of playing non- stop cricket, and that too leading the side in all the three formats, is bound to take a toll. But many a times he skipped international tournaments, unlike other players who would risk their place in the side if they dared do likewise. It is all the more baffling that he would choose to play in the corporate tournament with the important series against Australia just days away.
Srinivasan’s fondness for Brand Dhoni is well known ever since the wicketkeeper- batsman was made the captain of Chennai Super Kings in the inaugural Indian Premier League season in 2008.
The Board president had vetoed the decision of the selection committee to remove Dhoni as captain of the Test side after the debacles in England and Australia.
It was revealed by former Test player Mohinder Amarnath, one of the selectors who wanted Dhoni’s ouster and paid for it as he was removed.
It opened a Pandora’s Box as former players and well- wishers of Indian cricket wondered what the need of a selection panel was when the ultimate call rests with the Board president.
It is not the first time that Srinivasan has found himself entangled in a conflict of interest. He was the secretary of the board when India Cements won the bid to have a team in the IPL. Former IPL chairman Lalit Modi went to the extent of levelling charges of “ fixing” against Srinivasan to get certain players from the auction pool. “ Not indirectly, but very directly. Fixing the auction, umpires and pitch. Just give the damn trophy to CSK,” Modi had tweeted.