After the Supreme Court removed BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke on Monday, he breathed a sigh of relief and quipped “main toh mukti paa gaya” (I have been unchained). The court also removed BCCI president Anurag Thakur for failing to implement the Lodha Committee recommendations to reform the world’s wealthiest cricket organisation.
What has also emerged out of Monday’s court order is the uncertainity surrounding the future of the three scheduled tours to India starting this month -- – the ODI/T20 series against England, the Test series against Australia and a one-off Test against Bangladesh.
58-year-old Shirke would not be surprised by court order as he had told Outlook in August last year that he was “mentally prepared” to resign if the BCCI failed to get relief in the ongoing IPL betting/fixing case. Although he didn’t resign on his own – perhaps to show solidarity with his Board colleagues -- after the BCCI’s review and curative petitions were dismissed, Shirke can now concentrate on his business that is across continents, from Asia to Europe to Australia.
However, Pune-based Shirke, who spends most of his time in England due to business commitments didn’t completely rule himself out from giving his valuable advice to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). He had hinted this to Outlook in August, too.
Shirke is also president of the Maharashtra Cricket Association and he would now have to hand over that responsibility to someone else too in the wake of the court order.
This is the second time that Shirke has had to leave the BCCI midway through his tenure. In May 2013, he as treasurer, along with then secretary Sanjay Jagdale had resigned as they were unhappy with the way then president N. Srinivasan was handling the process to probe the 2013 IPL betting-fixing scandal. The Supreme Court later widened the scope of the case and decided to reform the BCCI’s administrative set-up.
While passing the order, a bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur requested senior advocate Fali S Nariman and senior advocate Gopal Subramanian, who acted as amicus curiae in this IPL case, to assist the court in nominating persons to constitute a committee that would take charge of the BCCI and ensure that the Lodha Committee recommendations were implemented. The three-judge bench, minus TS Thakur who retires on Tuesday, is expected to nominate the committee on January 19.
Excerpts from the Interview:
Are you planning to appeal today’s court order?
I don’t fall into the criteria of the Supreme Court committee [Lodha Committee] for removal of BCCI officials; I am not a convicted person neither am I a minister and I have not completed three years in the BCCI. But they have removed me specifically, so there’s nothing for me to challenge or appeal. I have no problem with that. But the case continues as the court has given January 18 as the next date.
Now the joint secretary [Amitabh Choudhary] will become BCCI secretary, and in the order it is written that he would have to give an undertaking that he would amend the constitution and implement the Lodha Committee recommendations [upheld by the court]. Can one person give a guarantee of so many people [state associations]?
He will be in two minds whether or not to accept it.
There’s no question of being in two minds as it is written in the order that a person cannot become the secretary without giving an undertaking [that he would implement the recommendations].
And will the BCCI as a whole take some steps?
We are not BCCI anymore. There is a specific order to remove me and Anurag ji. So, when we are no more the BCCI, how can I take any action? Now, the BCCI is either the joint secretary or the administrators who are to be appointed.
What about the treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry?
It is up to him. He has to give an undertaking, whether he will be complying with it [recommendations] or not. What can I say? The Supreme Court can call the matter even tomorrowand maybe say the treasurer will be the financial authority. So, anything can happen. I am not part of the Board, so I cannot sign anywhere.
What is your next course of action for you?
Let this pan out. Let the ongoing process go on and we'll see.
Would you be interested in cricket administration in some capacity?
If I have to be involved as a cricket administrator, I can do that with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) too. And I don’t need to inform you that whatever I do with the BCCI – my travel, hotel stay, breakfast – I pay from my own pocket, as you are aware of. I have no interest in the BCCI. If at all, I would be sad at the stage the BCCI is in at the moment, both on and off the field, being a cricketing power. I am concerned that it is not disturbed. My other concern is that the lowest grade of state-level cricket, like under-14 and under-16 tournaments etc, should go on smoothly. That is very important; these players’ careers are most important, not so much of those who are already established. Whether it is Ajay Shirke or someone else like Lodha ji in the BCCI doesn’t matter.
What are the chances of you working with the ECB?
I have no interest. But if I have to work in cricket, and if they call me, I would do it. But I have no interest. I wish the institution [BCCI] for which I have devoted 15-20 years remains intact. That is my desire. If it is damaged it would be a sad event.
Can you throw some light on the three tours to India scheduled to take place this season – the ODI/T20 series against England, the Test series against Australia and one-off Test against Bangladesh?
There is no BCCI office-bearer as of today.
Will the senior most BCCI vice-president [CK Khanna], who has been asked by the court to take over as president, will also have to sign this undertaking.
Till yesterday [January 1], when the office-bearers did exist, did the BCCI make any provision for the One-day International series against England starting on January 15?
There is no provision. Provisions are made at the time of a series. If you remember, the last time we approached the Supreme Court it was match-by-match during the Test series against England because they had imposed the restrictions. First, the court gave permission for the first three Tests and then the remaining two. But the payments are pending. In the BCCI constitution, there are two authorised signatories [for signing cheques jointly] – the treasurer and the joint secretary. Now, if the joint secretary becomes the secretary who will become the joint secretary. And if the joint secretary is not there, who will sign cheques. Hum toh mukti paa gaye (I have been freed).
Have you informed your BCCI colleagues that you have accepted the court order?
Of course, but my only colleague is my boss. I don’t have to report to anybody. Let me tell you the BCCI was not my personal business; whether I am in the BCCI or not doesn’t make any difference to me. We fought purely on principles. I'm now waiting to see what happens further.