Maharasthra Cricket Association president Ajay Shirke is also a businessman who alternates between Pune and London. As BCCI treasurer, he resigned at the height of the 2013 IPL betting/spot-fixing scandal due to disagreement with then president N. Srinivasan. Suave and articulate, Shirke is known for speaking his mind, as he does during an interview with Qaiser Mohammad Ali. Excerpts:
Why has BCCI come to a stage where it is facing so much humiliation?
This stage has come due to the IPL match-fixing scandal and the approach of some BCCI officials. The Lodha committee’s recommendations have come because of a petition filed by the BCCI (in the Supreme Court against a Bombay HC order of 2013 that dismissed a board-appointed probe panel for IPL scandal as unconstitutional). In a way, we’ve brought it upon ourselves.
So, are the BCCI and its officials to be blamed for the present situation?
Yes, but officials who were there at that time (in 2013). This was a direction in which I saw things were going, there was no point fighting with the president, who had appointed me, and so I chose to leave.
Will this litigation impact players, especially members of the national team?
Some of them may. Now, STAR India Ltd has given the board a notice, following the Lodha committee recommendations, that they might not honour the contract with the BCCI because of the proposed restrictions on advertisements (during live telecast of matches).
But the court order is yet to come out.
Correct. But if the court says fully implement the recommendations, then where will be the money to pay cricketers? So, it’ll affect cricketers hugely, also ex-cricketers and everyone else. A recommendation like that would cut the board’s revenue by about 68 per cent to about 70 per cent. So, how will we run the healthcare scheme, pension scheme, benefit scheme? Where will the money come from? Ultimately, cricketers and their families will be affected. One has to ask the question in all humility: How does chopping off advertising make BCCI a better organisation?
Why do you think the courts seem to be a bit tough on the BCCI?
During the period of legal process, N. Srinivasan was there, then he didn’t resign, then he stepped aside, then Dalmiya came in and other things happened. A lot of Lodha Committee report is down to perception and not fact. For instance, how is the management going to improve by removing Maharashtra, Vidharba, Baroda and Saurashtra?
How do you visualise the outcome of the case?
The outcome of any case cannot be predicted. And who would’ve thought except a few of us that making this protracted litigation and getting a hammering in the media every day, will get an order against us in a petition that the Board itself filed.
Will the BCCI change forever, then?
If change means the full implementation of the Lodha panel recommendations then it’ll be anybody’s guess. First, you will get new members who’ll have no history or connection to the sport.