Seeking greener pastures in ICC, Shashank Manohar quits as chief of troubled BCCI

New Delhi:Shashank Manohar’s resignation from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and International Cricket Council’s (ICC) top posts on Tuesday has not come as a surprise to anyone in the cricket fraternity. In fact, he may not be the only one to abandon the Board in its most controversial time.

If sources close to Manohar are to be believed, the Nagpur strongman played his moves rather calculatingly. He ended the ICC’s Big Three – India, Australia, England – monopoly and distributed an extra six per cent revenue from ICC meant for BCCI to all other member countries. All this was done to win votes of many cash-strapped cricket boards in the world in his bid to become the first independent chairman of the ICC next month.

dna has learnt that after Manohar, there are many others in the ruling Sharad Pawar camp who are planning to abandon the BCCI before the Supreme Court (SC) announces its verdict on the Justice Lodha panel recommendations. Maharashtra Cricket Association president Ajay Shirke may be the next to follow Manohar’s footsteps.
Manohar, being the president of Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA), would have lost his say as well as vote in BCCI if Lodha recommendations were implemented.
The 58-year-old’s exit may have made him the shortest serving president of BCCI but can make him the longest one-term serving ICC chief. According to the new ICC rules, its chairman should be independent and can’t hold dual posts of his home board as well.
Rajeev Shukla, who is currently the chairman of Indian Premier League (IPL), is the frontrunner to fill the vacant post. If there is no consensus on his name, any of the five vice-presidents might take over. It is understood that no one in the Board wants to hold elections before the all-important SC judgement.
Trigger point
Going by insiders in the Pawar camp, Manohar & Co were not happy with the current scenario in BCCI. Ever since the elevation of Anurag Thakur as its secretary, the ruling party at the centre was trying to control the affairs in BCCI. This was even during late Jagmohan Dalmiya’s time as president last year.
Everyone thought that things will improve with the elevation of Manohar following Dalmiya’s death late last year. But there was no change and Thakur continued to pursue his “personal” and party’s ambitions.
The appointment of BCCI’s first-ever CEO, Rahul Johri, only made things worse. Son of former Uttar Pradesh state minister and BJP leader Dinesh Johri, Rahul’s appointment was a clear indication that the ruling party had taken control of the world’s richest body.
The Bombay High Court’s verdict of shifting IPL matches out of Maharashtra was the second trigger point for Pawar & Co. The camp thought there was “too much interference in their working” and that was bringing a bad name for them.
It was at this point that Manohar, Pawar and Shirke had a meeting, where the former’s “honourable exit” plan was discussed.
Manohar, known for his clean image, was not happy with the way SC was making adverse observations about the BCCI day after day. Being a senior lawyer himself, Manohar sensed the outcome of the verdict earlier than many.
“Having a full five-year term in ICC is any day better for Manohar. Here in BCCI, hardly anyone will survive the Justice Lodha broom,” an BCCI official, known to be in the Pawar camp, said.
‘ICC voice of cricket, BCCI invoice’
In the Supreme Court on Tuesday, when senior counsel Manish Tewari quoted late India captain Tiger Pataudi’s famous line that “if ICC is voice of cricket, then BCCI is the invoice,” the entire court room burst into laughter. The special bench consisting chief justice of India TS Thakur and FMI Kalifulla again made it clear to the BCCI counsel that “don’t apprehend anything worse while we’re discussing Justice Lodha reforms. We’re doing nothing to reduce your sway over the masses. Rather, the image of BCCI will only improve by implementing reforms which were necessitated after so much negative reports instead,” observed the bench, while posting the next hearing on June 29.