The question, in the wake of the release of the Lodha Committee report on cricket reform in India, was always going to be: What will the BCCI do now?
‘Lie low for a bit’ seems to be the answer, judging by the lack of official comment from BCCI honchos. Delay is something the organisation is adept at: ‘We haven’t yet gotten the physical copy of the report’; ‘We are now studying the report’; ‘We have set up a committee to examine the report and make recommendations’; ‘We have put our internal committee’s report before the executive board’; ‘We will consider the exec committee report at our next general body meeting’ — there really is no dearth of ways to drag things out if you want to.
And if the alternative is to accept a set of recommendations that spells the end of the BCCI as we — and they — know it today, then oh yes they want to. So, delay. Which is why it is vital for the Supreme Court, when it considers the report and recommends next steps, to set a time limit for response and/or compliance.
Official silence, however, doesn’t mean total silence — expect, over the coming days/weeks, to find various ‘non-state actors’ begin to pick the Lodha report apart, one little bit at a time on the thousand-cuts model, and build a groundswell of opposition. Thus, via Cricinfo just now:
Pruning the national selection committee from five to three, as the Lodha report has recommended, would be a bad idea given the size of the country and the number of first-class teams involved. That’s the opinion of three former selectors – Dilip Vengsarkar, Kiran More andSanjay Jagdale – who say that the increased workload cannot be offset by the proposed Talent Committee that will do the basic scouting.
Kiran More builds out that argument: India is a vast country, lots of games, how many can three watch? And says four would be better. Which begs the question: how many more can four watch?
“India is a vast country”, ok — so how, by that logic, is even a five-member selection panel capable of covering it all, then?
Fundamental question in my turn: Can the same selectors quantify how many games in a month/year they watched during their tenure? And what proportion that was to the total number of games played?
But debating quibbles aside, here is how the Lodha-recommended structure is supposed to work:
There is a talent scouting team, the members of which are mandated to watch *all* domestic games, and at the end of each, to send in reports about promising players spotted in particular matches.
Over a season — or even part of one — these reports begin to show patterns. For instance, a player may have had one brilliant game, and the talent scouts call it out; he may then fade away in succeeding games, or against better opposition, and the scouts call that out too.
The national selectors (who, in any case, still have the authority to go watch any game(s) at their own discretion, monitor the incoming reports. As they spot patterns — a particular player, for instance, consistently performing in different conditions, against various opposition — they flag him for special attention, and then one or more go to watch him play his next game, to confirm for themselves what the scout reports are telling them.
What’s wrong with that? (Actually, this is how talent scouts are deployed, in major international sports).
According to More, relying on talent scouts was never enough. “Recommendations are fine. But you have to see the player yourself, you have to study the conditions. One guy could score a century but a on a pata (flat) wicket whereas another batsman might score 50 on a difficult wicket.”
Well, duh! Read above. Or better still, read the Lodha report — which does not suggest that selectors go simply by the report of the talent scouts.
“So the player pool has increased now,” Vengsarkar, who is now the director of the National Cricket Academy, said. He pointed out the proposed Talent Committee has already been put in place by the BCCI, with the plan to appoint 30 talent and research development officers (TRDOs) comprising three scouts at the Under-16 and Under-19 levels each, across the five zones.
Again, duh! Firstly, it is just a “plan”, and has been for some time. The BCCI has said they will appoint the scouts — but that is for the age-group levels, not for scouting talent in senior domestic competition.
More importantly, assuming the BCCI is already actively considering a scouting infrastructure, then how is that any different from what the Lodha recommendations suggest?
And so it goes, and so it will go. Expect, next, another group — say, of former someone-or-others — to come up with statements about another part of the recommendations. A nick here, a nick there… it all adds up to “arguments” the BCCI can then present before the court as coming from disinterested parties.