IPL verdict: Two new teams best option before BCCI now?
There is a huge suspense over the future of the CSK and RR players, but they deserve to be part of a full draft.
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For the fans who follow the Indian Premier League (IPL), the last few days have brought turmoil. Since the time Justice RM Lodha and his panel delivered their verdict on the IPL mess, there are more questions than answers on what lies ahead of the 2016 edition.
As of now what is certain is that Raj Kundra and Gurunath Meiyappan cannot be part of cricket’s annual summer carnival at home. Kundra has cried on television he never bet on any match, which was lapped up by all. It made good headlines and primetime viewing but as far as I am concerned, he is history. The IPL governing council meets in Mumbai on Sunday and the wise men have a lot to ponder over, the foremost being the future of the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR).
Retired chief justice of India Lodha and his two colleagues — Ashok Bhan and RV Raveendran — took painstaking efforts in arriving at decisions which are fair and in the best interest of the sport.
The ball is now in the BCCI’s (Board of Control for Cricket in India) court and they know very well all eyes are on them to see how they deal with the issues they are faced with. The media has reported on many suggestions which have been given by people in power – on and off the record – but to think a change in ownership patterns of the two teams can take place swiftly is stupidity!
We all know running an IPL franchise is not an easy job, and the two suspended franchises have been in the business for eight years. To build brands like CSK or RR has taken time and if you read the Justice Lodha report carefully, he has only spoken of a two-year suspension.
There are some people making suggestions that the BCCI can take the extreme decision of scrapping these two teams, which is easier said than done. One needs to understand the way the Justice Lodha panel was set up by the Supreme Court after it first came up with its findings when probed by Justice Mukul Mudgal.
In 2000, when Indian cricket was rocked by a major fixing crisis for the first time, then BCCI boss AC Muthiah entrusted the probe to anti-corruption officer K Madhavan.
Madhavan declared Mohammad Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja, Manoj Prabhakar, Ajay Sharma, Nayan Mongia and physio Ali Irani guilty. Later, Azharuddin challenged the verdict in the Andhra Pradesh High court after which Madhavan’s appointment was declared illegal.
This time round, it was the Supreme Court which assigned the job to Justice Lodha and the brief was clear: probe IPL chief operating officer Sundar Raman, suggest changes to the memorandum of association of the BCCI and play the role of the BCCI disciplinary committee.
While Justice Lodha rightly banned Kundra and Meiyappan for betting, why he did not ban the two teams and instead suggested a two-year suspension is being interpreted in many ways.
The fact is the teams were brought to disrepute by Kundra and Meiyappan by betting and not match-fixing; so the extreme punishment of throwing them out was possibly not given.
So what are the options before the BCCI? To think they will scrap the two teams is wishful thinking. Then again, both the teams will not be foolish enough to make distress sales as even though their brand equity has taken a beating, they can hold on for two years even though they will be out of the IPL.
While the general mood at the bourses in India may see a downturn, there is no recession in the IPL and two new teams can be accommodated for the next edition and in 2017, so there will be a full complement of eight teams and 60 matches to fulfill contractual TV obligations.
Before one jumps to conclusions about what happens to the CSK and RR when they return in 2018, be sure the BCCI can easily accommodate them and make the IPL a ten-team event, juggle the draw around a bit and restrict total matches to 60.
There is a huge suspense over the future of the CSK and RR players, but they deserve to be part of a full draft. One important point which the BCCI must address is the continuance of Raman. Logic demands, pending inquiry, he must go. After all, when the Supreme Court stepped in in 2013, N Srinivasan was asked to step aside before his name was cleared.
At a macro level, prescriptions for good governance in the entire BCCI need to be mapped well so that people look at it as a body with respect and not suspicion.