By C.Rajshekhar Rao
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEW DELHI _ Cricket organizers were in crisis mode Wednesday, weighing options for how to keep the Indian Premier League afloat after a Supreme Court-appointed committee announced two-year bans on two of the top clubs.
Justice Lodha committee announced the suspensions Tuesday on former champions Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals while also proposing life bans for Chennai team principal Gurunath Meiyappan and Rajasthan co-owner Raj Kundra for betting on IPL games or being in contact with illegal gamblers. Lodha’s committee ruled that the clubs had to accept responsibility for the actions of the officials.
Reducing the league from eight clubs to six would decrease the number of matches in the six-week season from 60 to 34, and would mean re-negotiating contracts with broadcasters and the remaining franchises because the tournament is based on a revenue sharing model.
The IPL governing council, created by the Board of Control for Cricket in India, has called for a meeting Sunday to discuss the situation amid pressure to restore credibility.
“It is essential … to take all necessary steps so as to restore the credibility of BCCI and game of cricket in India,” Sharad Pawar, the former head of India’s national cricket association and the International Cricket Council, wrote to BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya.“It is necessary for the board to be proactive in this matter and take all necessary actions to clean the game of cricket.”
There was a widely-held perception that the BCCI was shielding the team officials after its own disciplinary committee had cleared them of wrong doing. It took legal action by the Cricket Association of Bihar which ultimately led to action in the Supreme Court. A committee led by Justice Mukul Mudgal investigated corruption in the Twenty20 league and the Lodha committee was subsequently formed to determine the appropriate punishment.
Meiyappan’s role at the Super Kings was disputed initially. He was described as a “cricket enthusiast” early on by then BCCI president Narainaswamy Srinivasan, his father-in-law, who is now the chairman of the ICC. That description was widely criticized as Meiyappan was seen regularly in the team dugout and player auctions.
Former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi, who was expelled by the BCCI amid charges relating to the administrative and financial management of the competition, said the game’s national governing body had failed its fans in trying to cover up the scandal.
“BCCI cover up failed only because the courts intervened,” Modi posted on Twitter.
Former BCCI president Inderjit Bindra posted tweets saying Srinivasan should not be allowed to continue as ICC chairman because he’d tried to protect Meiyappan and the Super Kings.
The “BCCI should take immediate action against him by withdrawing his nomination to ICC,” Bindra said. Srinivasan “should step down immediately, failing which (the) board should take action.”
Bindra said two new teams should be introduced in the next IPL season to ensure the value of the league, which is estimated at $ 4 billion, does not suffer.
“To make IPL viable BCCI could auction 2 more teams and after 2 years have IPL with 10 teams, as originally intended,” Bindra said.
The BCCI, which will receive suggestions for reform by Lodha’s committee, also has to decide how to accommodate the prominent and highly-paid players contracted to the two banned clubs.
Chennai, a two-time champion and the runner-up this year, is led by India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and features New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, West Indies allrounder Dwayne Bravo and South Africa batsman Faf du Plessis.
Rajasthan, the inaugural IPL champ in 2008, is led by Australia’s Steve Smith, and includes India batsman Ajinkya Rahane, and New Zealand pace bowler Tim Southee.
The IPL scaled back to eight clubs from 10 after expansion club Kochi Tuskers was scrapped for an alleged breach of contract in 2011 and Sahara Pune Warriors withdrew in 2013.
The BCCI, which is currently considering appealing a compensation award to the Kochi franchise, announced Wednesday that the Champions League Twenty20 _ an annual tournament it helped launch in 2009 for the leading domestic teams from T20 competitions around the world _ would be cancelled.