Alf missed the news last week that the International Cricket Council is to have a new boss soon.
He is none other than Narayanaswami Srinivasan, an Indian gentleman with pots of money.
There’s just one problem. Or rather, there’s at least one problem.
He is not currently acting as chairman of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) while an investigation is being conducted into allegations of match-fixing related to the Chennai Super Kings, the team owned by Srinivasan’s company, India Cements.
His son-in-law, Gurunath Meiyappan, has been arrested and charged with illegally providing information to bookmakers.
And as a Guardian writer reminds us, Srinivasan was so obstructive to the course of justice that the supreme court of India demanded he step down from the BCCI.
“It is nauseating that Srinivasan continued as BCCI chief,” said Justice AK Patnaik. “He should go if cricket is to be cleaned.”
Despite the impediment that you would think would come from this link to corruption investigations, he has been elected to replace New Zealand’s Alan Isaacs, chairman of New Zealand Cricket.
A change to the constitution of the ICC and some behind-doors negotiations apparently were conducted to enable this to happen.
Alf is astonished by these goings-on (and is sure his good mate Keeping Stock, a keen cricket buff, will be similarly astonished).
The reasons for these bizarre events can be found in this Guardian report:
The balance of power in the governance of world cricket has changed dramatically with the creation of what the media – which likes such things – wants to call the Big Three consisting of BCCI, Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board, who will to all intent and purpose run the show.
On this issue there really is no grey area. One side of the argument says that cricket, particularly Test cricket, is doomed because of the financial self-interest of these three, and with it the global evangelical spread of the game. The other says the opposite: that without the new powerful alliance and the complicity of the other nations, reluctant as it may be in some cases, the game would definitely be down the spout.
It’s a case of money talking, something Alf would normally approve of, because he enjoys the eloquence of a few hundred-dollar notes down at the Eketahuna Club.
The Guardian goes on:
The Big Three (it looks as if we are going to have to string along with this) was created because BCCI was insistent that as they created a huge percentage of the ICC global income, largely through television deals, then to them should go a significantly large share of the pot, something they considered to have been disproportionately small. It wanted more and the ECB, together with Cricket Australia, worked hard to convince the other members that BCCI should be accommodated.
But what about those corruption allegations?
The Guardian tells us:
The investigation, headed by a former chief justice, Mugdal, is believed to have a list of 13 names who are suspected of corruption at various levels, one of whom is said to be Srinivasan himself.
His son-in-law, Gurunath Maiyappan, a CSK team director, has already been charged with betting offences and leaking team information, and is part of the corruption investigation.
Two attempts apparently have been made by the Cricket Association of Bihar to get the supreme court to ban him from the ICC position as well. It did not accept their argument.
The Guardian report goes on to dip into even murkier aspects of this story. But to cut to the chase, Srinivasan is now the most powerful man in cricket.
Andy Bull, a Guardian columnist, shares Alf’s dismay, saying:
As the scandal that has engulfed Fifa has shown, the entry bar to international sports administration is set low but even by those near-subterranean standards, the appointment of Srinivasan is a staggering decision.
Bull regales readers with some of the unsavoury elements:
India Cements had originally insisted that Meiyappan [the aforementioned son-in-law] was only an “honorary member” of the Super Kings’ staff, a “young enthusiast” who “travelled with the team”. This was proved to be false.
In the words of one of the Super Kings players, the Australian batsman Mike Hussey, Meiyappan was “a close part of the team”. Meiyappan described himself as the “team principal”.
Srinivasan has said: “There is no wrongdoing on my part, and therefore my conscience is very clear that there is no taint on me.” It has been widely reported, however, that his is one of 13 names included in a sealed list of people implicated in the fixing scandal.
The list is expected to be made public in September, when the former chief justice Mukul Mudgal releases the findings of his investigation.
It is not the first scandal Srinivasan has been involved in. He was linked to the Jaganmohan Reddy case, accused of investing in companies in return for political favours. And he has been attacked by his estranged son, Ashwin, who says his father is “vehemently homophobic” and used “constant physical and mental torture” to try to “cure” Ashwin of his homosexuality. Srinivasan refused to comment on his son’s remarks.
Bull huffs that this, then, is the man who has just become the single most important and influential figure in world cricket.
He wonders whether other cricket bosses, by agreeing to work with Srinivasan, can safeguard the future of Test cricket, which is waning while the T20 format explodes in popularity.
He concludes it is is a gamble, “made at the considerable cost of ceding power to a man deemed unfit to be in charge of his own national board”.
But everything to do with cricket nowadays sadly has the whiff of gambling.