The Supreme Court took exception to Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) telling it that playing cricket with teams from states not known for playing cricket would be detrimental to the game’s interest even as the court held that the BCCI needed to reform itself not just for the game but also to make its functioning transparent.
As senior counsel K.V.Vishwanathan appearing for OCA told the court that it was detrimental for the game if they played with teams from states not playing cricket, a bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla asked: “How do you say that we will not play cricket with them. Playing with them and nurturing their talent is the right approach.”
“To say (playing with them) is detrimental (to the game) is not enough, please demonstrate,” said Chief Justice Thakur, asking would they say that they will not play with the team from a country that has just started playing cricket, say Afghanistan.
“If they (teams from northeast) play, they will be defeated. They will be out. What is your problem? If there are teams from Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram or Nagaland, they will be knocked out in the first round,” the bench observed as Vishwanathan said that if they are given full membership of BCCI, they will also participate in Ranji trophy matches.
Telling the senior counsel that “BCCI should reform itself not just in the interest of the game but for transparency”, Chief Justice Thakur said a few years ago people used to laugh at the teams from Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and new entrant Afghanistan, but see Bangladesh cricket team today.
Asking OCA what was its problem with the suggestion that every state should have just one vote and in what way it affected the cricketing activities in Odisha, Chief Justice Thakur said: “Except for one person from Jharkhand who is the captian of the Indian team (M.S.Dhoni) do you have players from that state.”
As the OCA told the court that level playing field in the participation and the functioning of the BCCI does not mean territorial area but the game playing ability and tradition, the bench asked for the list of the members of International Cricket Council (ICC).
As the list included the names of the countries not at all known for playing cricket, the bench asked: “Have Russia ever played international cricket? Does Bhutan have a team? Have you ever played a match with Bhutan?”
Meanwhile, the Railway Sports Control Board (RSCB) and the Services Sports Control Board (SSCB), who are full members of BCCI and participate in its decision-making process, said that they were amongst the founder members of BCCI and their involvement in decision making process could not be taken away.
Appearing for two boards, Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh told the court that they were engaged in the “hunting, grooming and nurturing” of the players and were associated with every national sports body as an equal member with a voting right.
Asserting their right to be associated in the decision-making process and highlighting their contribution to the game, he said that 75 percent of the national women cricket team was from railways.
The court was told this in the course of the hearing of submissions by the BCCI and its affiliated state associations which are resisting some of the recommendations of Justice Lodha Committee providing for one state, one vote, ceiling on the tenure of the office bearers and presence of a CAG nominee on the BCCI board. Hearing will continue on Monday (May 2).