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Sight Screen

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

To-do and don't

Ehtesham Hasan in the Mumbai Mirror has a to-do list for Sharad Pawar.
I'd want to add a few caveats. Firstly, merely giving voting rights to the captain and coach (I notice Raj Singh made that his first sound byte after the results are announced) isn't going to do the trick. Not suggesting it is not necessary -- it is. But equally, that is no magic bullet to ensure fairness, either (heck, right now, a sizeable section of cricket fans are up in arms suggesting -- with rhyme or without reason -- that neither the captain nor the coach is being fair to one particular player ; give them voting rights, and next thing you know every interest group upset over the omission of any player they fancy will be pointing fingers and adding to the pressure on two people who don't need the extra stress).
A revised to-do would be: Lay down firm guidelines on the qualifications for being a national selector (Should he have played Tests and ODIs or no? Should he have served as selector at the state level first, by way of experiencing what it takes?). Revamp the process of picking the panel, so that zonal considerations don't get into play (By, perhaps, nominating a three member panel, with a five-member talent spotting panel working with them and reporting to them?). And finally, delink the selection committee from the annual elections -- if a selection committee can only work November to October, and if its various constituents don't know whether they will retain their spots under the next dispensation, how do you expect the committee to have a long term vision?
Again, IMHO, simply appointing a CEO (again, between the aborted election and this one, I remember a certain Raj Singh waxing eloquent about how Sunny Gavaskar would make a wonderful CEO) isn't going to do much, other than provide a figurehead to trot out at ICC meetings and stuff; the one enduring legacy the Pawar group can leave behind is if it reforms the administration from the bottom up.
Firstly, as Niranjan Shah suggested, there is a case to be made for trimming the flab from the administration; too many committees, too many posts are created simply so slots on these bodies can be doled out as favors in return for votes. Then, professionalize the administration -- important administrative posts -- CEO, secretary, treasurer, etc -- need to be manned by contracted, paid professionals, not by those who have to depend on zonal lobbying to get elected.
There's much more that can be done: Get a BCCI website going; use it to publicise what the organization is doing and not doing, who its members are, what its finances are, and such -- the 'transparency' Pawar talked of begins there.
And oh, if you still have time before next September, when elections are due again, for god's sake reform the domestic cricket structure -- reduce the teams, compress the time frame for the tournament, mandate that at least one selector has to attend each game...
The list, think of it, is endless -- there has been an administrative paralysis stretching two decades or more; it is impossible for any one person or group to make up lost ground in the space of 11 months. But if Pawar, with his mandate, can make a start, get a process going towards change, we might end up in the same sort of situation as when PV Narasimha Rao dragged the country into the globalization mindset, and ensured that successor governments had no real choice but to follow the defined path -- in other words, they have the opportunity to trigger change that is irreversible.

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