Thursday October 24, 2019
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Good week for Indian sports, bad news for cricket board officials

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BCCI

By Veturi Srivatsa

Good news for Indian sports in the last one week. The men’s and women’s teams have won the Twenty20 cricket series in Australia even as tennis star Sania Mirza claimed her first women’s doubles title at the Australian Open, and Pusarla Venkata Sindu clinched the Malaysian Badminton Masters. A rare coincidence!

The focus is back on the sports, coming out of courtrooms and board rooms, or so it appeared. But the Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha Committee recommendations to cleanse Indian cricket and its administration continue to be a subject matter of intense discussion among the state associations and officials, each one trying to read and interpret the fine print to suit his personal interests.

Even before the detailed Lodha Committee report is fully studied by state associations, as instructed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the appointment of Justice Ajit Prakash Shah as the board’s ombudsman, as suspected, is getting flooded with complaints, the initial ones on the alleged conflict of interest involving some top guns.

Smartly, Justice Shah lobbed the ball back into the court of the complainant, asking for the specific rules under which the allegations can be taken up for examination!

The complaint is against three high-profile administrators, two of these former India cricketers, Sourav Ganguly and Vikram Rathour. The third person dragged into the conflict is board secretary Anurag Thakur. A free-lance journalist from Mumbai found a serious conflict of interest with the functioning of all three.

It was pointed out that Ganguly has business contacts with owners of the new franchise of the Indian Premier League (IPL), and Thakur and Rathour are said to be cousins and have business connections. The issue has apparently been raised because Thakur is the board secretary, and during his tenure as one of the principal office-bearers Rathour was appointed as a national selector.

Justice Shah has taken up the issue with Ganguly and the board for clarification, and even said that he had not heard from Ganguly, though the former India captain insists he had sent in his reply.

Thakur was quick to refute the allegations, stating his business relations with Rathour has nothing to do with cricket and that their families have known each other for four decades.

For good measure, Thakur points to a sinister motive behind the complaints as he sees names of only a particular section of the board officials are being dragged. He also defended the board’s media manager, saying he has no stake in the media company he has been linked to. What Thakur doesn’t say is that the media manager was involved with a couple of former Test stars as their agent.

Whatever Ganguly and Thakur might say, prima facie they cannot deny their personal relations with the people they are involved with and they have to come clean. The complainant has done extensive research before filing his complaints and it is up to the ombudsman to take the call.

Ganguly, who is a member of the IPL Governing Council, is a co-owner of Indian Super League football club Atletico de Kolkata along with well-known businessmen. Nothing wrong with the arrangement till one of the tycoons bought IPL’s new Pune-based franchise. It would be interesting to see how Ganguly explains it away logically with legalese thrown in.

In Thakur’s case it is more personal. He was joint secretary when Rathour was appointed as a national selector and he was secretary when the former India opening batsman got the extension, though Rathour qualifies by virtue of being a former Test player.

The crux of the matter is not whether Rathour deserves to be a selector, the complainant brought into focus Rathour citizenship, pointing out that he is a British and carries that country’s passport.

In the case of the BCCI’s media manager, the allegation is that a family member of his is taking care of his business interests. Here it must be mentioned that he also fits in with the media job as he had worked with electronic media for a few years before getting into event management. His proximity to some top players is all too well known. In the past, there were disparaging whispers about a board’s media adviser being a columnist.

Thakur has also obliquely stated that the appointment of the ombudsman has given rise to some people to make false allegations. Eventually, he has to explain his position and it is for the ombudsman to decide whether there is any conflict of interest in Ganguly and Thakur-Rathour business dealings.

The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), of which Ganguly is president, is the first state unit to officially come out with objections to 10 of the 21 recommendations of the Lodha Committee!

Good week for sport, bad news of board officials. (IANS)(Photo: www.holdingwilley.com)

(Veturi Srivatsa is a senior journalist. The views expressed are personal)

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Move over Baseball, it’s Cricket Time in Chicago

West Loop Cricket Association (WLCA), Chicago, provides an unbeatable platform to the hundreds of cricket fans in US

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Baseball, Cricket, Chicago
Players representing as many as 20 diverse neighbourhoods from Chicago and suburbs, were joined by those who drove hundreds of miles to be part of this fun tournament.

By West Loop Cricket Association, Chicago

Two days. 18 teams. 25 games. One winner. Thats cricket in Chicago for you. Baseball.

Played in the sprawling University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Michelle Obama Athletic Complex, in the west loop neighbourhood of Chicago, the Super 8 Cricket Tournament is becoming a huge hit among the cricket crazy fans in Chicago and neighbouring cities like Ohio.

When four IT guys, originally from India (Harry, Shreenidhi, Vivek, Harsha), decided to start a cricket club in Chicago, little did they know, that what was started as a one time game, would take shape of a tournament, being played every year.

Since its inception in 2017, the number of participating teams in the Super 8 Cricket Tournament, has gone from 8 to 18. This time, according to the organisers, registrations had to be stopped in five days. Talk about supply exceeding the demand.

Baseball, Cricket, Chicago
Since its inception in 2017, the number of participating teams in the Super 8 Cricket Tournament, has gone from 8 to 18.

“Our initial goal was 16, then we moved to 18, but then we had to stop the registration, as the teams kept coming from different neighbourhoods, says Vivek Sarkar, Co-founder, WICA (West Loop Cricket Association). We also got requests from few non-Indians, which we will try to accommodate, next time.”

Sponsorship association with US Bank reflects the games’ huge popularity and increasing fan base, in the city known for it’s love for baseball (Chicago Cubs).

“It is an honor to sponsor the WLCA and this wonderful event! Thank you for allowing U.S. Bank to be a part of your cricket family. Cheers to your success”, says Susan Brown, Mortgage Loan Originator, US Bank.

For the players, it’s the undying love for the game of cricket that pulls them together. Players representing as many as 20 diverse neighbourhoods from Chicago and suburbs, were joined by those who drove hundreds of miles to be part of this fun tournament. Every year this tournament brings in new experince, new motivation.

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“Basically for love of the game, we like organising and managing things, want to stay connected in this way, and spread this game around. Chicago is a very diverse city, many people often ask us about cricket, which makes us so happy. I would love to make this the best cricket league in Chicago”, says Kunal, Member, Core Organising Team.

For a few teams, even names are typical Indian (Chennai Super Kings, Hyderabad Nawab, Hyderabad Blues).

If you want to get in touch and participate in the next year’s tournament, the core organising team includes Kunal, Niranjan, Sunil, Saurabh, Vijay, Yogesh and Rahul.

This year GloryHunters took the champions trophy while defending champions Chicago Centaurs were the runners up.