Conflict of interest in Indian cricket

Kumble said he was “sad” to hear what some people allege.

No clash with business interests: Kumble


New Delhi: Even as he was receiving congratulatory messages on being nominated chairman of the ICC Cricket Committee, Anil Kumble wondered why people these days often raise an issue that is usually mentioned in the context of BCCI/IPL administrators – conflict of interest in Indian cricket.

Kumble would know this better because last year he was in the eye of a storm when two Karnataka players contracted with his sports management company were selected in the Indian team for the One-day International series against England.

The third highest Test wicket taker in the world is still hurt with that issue. And he took pains to clarify that not just his ICC position is an honorary one, but also all the other ones that he either holds now or has held in the past.

Kumble particularly clarified that the chairman of ICC’s Cricket Committee does not clash with his business interests.

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“It doesn’t clash,” he emphasised while speaking to Mail Today.

“Here there’s absolutely no clash and there’s absolutely nothing like that.” The ace leg- spinner is currently president of the Karnataka State Cricket Association and co-vice chairman of the Karnataka State Board for Wildlife, besides being the head of the BCCI technical committee. He had earlier been on the WADA athlete commission, chairman of BCCI National Cricket Academy, and mentor of the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), according to the RCB website.

Kumble said he was “sad” to hear what some people allege. “I seriously fail to understand why people talk about only one thing — the conflict of interest — whenever somebody is trying to contribute only in honorary positions as administrators or anything,” he said. “That’s a sad part. I am disappointed with that.”

It is, however, not Kumble alone who has been alleged to have been in the conflict zone. Questions have also been raised – or are still being raised - about former players like Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri as BCCI-contracted commentators who allegedly desisted from speaking against the Board. Interests of Krishnamachari Srikkanth and Shivlal Yadav, now a BCCI vice-president, as selectors often clashed with those of their cricketer-sons.

Same goes for with BCCI vice-president Niranjan Shah, who as Saurashtra secretary convened selection committee meetings where his son’s name is discussed.

Srinivasan sits in the IPL governing council and as vice-chairman and managing director of India Cements also owns IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings.

It’s alleged that it’s difficult to segregate the two responsibilities.

Former Mumbai batsman Shishir Hattangadi says he too was in a similar position, but he handled his responsibilities as a Mumbai selector and IPL Mumbai Indians’ director (cricket operations) “honestly”. “ It’s the intent that counts, not people’s perception. I faced the charges of the conflict a lot of times. But I coped with the two positions; I tried to be honest with myself. It’s important that your decisions are independent of each other,” Hattangadi told Mail Today. “But, today, we’ve to accept cricketer/ coaches  holding multiple positions because they’re experts and will always be perceived to be associated with someone.”

These are times of conflict in Indian cricket. Jyotiraditya Scindia, head of the BCCI finance committee and president of the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association, doesn’t think so. “I don’t want to use the word ‘conflict’. You do have certain instances, where certain violations take place and based on which you take action. But because you’ve certain examples you can paint the whole game of cricket with one brush,” Scindia told MAIL TODAY.

Many people feel that excess money, particularly in the IPL, is plaguing Indian cricket. “That’s a huge question that you’ve opened up, because by that logic one can say that money is the root cause of all the ills in the society. Sometimes it is,” said Scindia.

“But that should not be an excuse that should be used for any violation. In life, and in society, there’re systems of rules and principles that are followed. And if you violate those rules and principles you also have to undergo the repercussions of that, and so should it be in the area of sport. We found certain instances in the IPL, where we took very, very strict action.” Asked if the BCCI was doing enough to tackle this situation, Scindia said: “ I think we are doing quite a lot; and we’re doing rather swiftly, as well. We saw the example in the IPL.”

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