The BCCI’s recent snafu with regard to the choice of the coach of the Indian cricket team is a perfect example of very poor management. Would a public announcement about an executive hire ever be made by a company before the individual has accepted the offer? Wouldn’t plan B have been discussed in the event of the lead candidate not accepting the job?
The net result of this sloppiness on the part of the BCCI, is that the team is presently without an official coach. The schedule ahead for the team is hectic and there seems to be no sign of a new coach either. However, more than a new coach, it appears as though the BCCI is badly in need of some professional management, starting with a capable CEO.
It’s a Business, Stupid!
Cricket in India is big, big business. And this is a understatement. It is no surprise that a seasoned businessman like Subhash Chandra is aspiring to try and grab a piece of the action by launching the Indian Cricket League (ICL). He deserves all the credit for attempting to accomplish (with a strong commercial bent, of course) what the BCCI has been unable to achieve. He has already roped in Kapil Dev, Kiran More and supposedly some international players. With his experience and hold over the media he is more than likely to give the BCCI a literal run for its money. As for the BCCI, there seems to be no clear plan or communication to the public at large about its stand vis-a-vis the ICL, barring some odd non-committal statements. The legendary Kapil Dev has already shown the BCCI the proverbial finger so to speak.
Culture of Personal Fiefdom
BCCI has historically been the personal fiefdom of some individual or the other. First, Jagmohan Dalmiya and now Sharad Pawar. Just take the current scenario. Sachin Tendulkar has been named vice-captain, Dilip Vengsarkar is selection chief, Sunil Gavaskar is everywhere, Chandu Borde is Manager, Balwinder Sandhu heads up the National Cricket Academy (NCA) and Pawar is Board Chief. Is this the Indian Board? It sounds more like the Maharashtra Board! Everyone related to the prior regime of Dalmiya such as Brijesh Patel, S. K. Nair, Kapil Dev and the like are all of out of favor. Past players who belong to different factions have started to openly bicker bringing back to life their past differences — Bedi vs. Gavaskar, Ashok Malhotra vs. Gavaskar to name a couple.
The biggest downside of this fiefdom culture is that almost all the positions in the board are held by former players and/or “yes men”, none of whom have any administrative experience whatsoever. With all due respect to these yesteryear stalwarts, their value is on the field and not really off the field. So expecting them to turn Administrative wizards overnight is completely unfair and unrealistic. Every organization within the BCCI, like for instance the National Cricket Academy, would be served best by a former cricketer as the outside face backed by strong seasoned operational management in order to set and achieve pre-defined goals and objectives. Without seasoned management at the helm of affairs, these organizations can never deliver quality results. The private sector has stepped up in the past to participate in cricketing activities, as in the case of the MRF Pace Foundation. However, after more than a decade of its existence, India is yet to produce even a single fast bowler who is guaranteed of a berth in the Indian playing eleven over an extended period of time! This is clearly a failure of the BCCI to leverage outside help and funding.
Mr. Dalmiya certainly deserves credit for putting cricket on the big stage: big money, big sponsors, television rights, the works (his success caught the attention of the WSJ which once published a story on this). His successor appears to have set his eyes on the big prize — the job of ICC Chief. Meanwhile, it is rumored that Lalu Yadav now wants to be BCCI chief. Given that both Mr. Pawar and Mr. Yadav are part of the same ruling coalition at the center, anything is possible in the constant give and take between political factions in power.
Formal Communication Channels
In this day and age where media in India is completely berserk, the BCCI, unfortunately, seems to have no formal “corporate communications or media relations” structure. This often leads to constant leaks (remember Chappell’s email that was leaked to the media?), contradicting statements by all and sundry and overall poor communication ranging from the officials to the present Indian team. A communications team and formal procedures for what is communicated to the media, how and by whom is a part and parcel of any professionally run organization. This is evidently non-existent in the BCCI.
The BCCI contracts with the players is a permanent source of contention. It is almost always pushed to the 11th hour and finally settled as a compromise. These contracts are only a stop-gag arrangement until the next scandal breaks out.
The advertising contracts are another sore point for the players. The recent pronouncements by the board about restricting the number of contracts, number of players per endorsement etc. make no sense whatsoever. Cricket is a commercial sport and it is natural that the players strive to make every buck they can while they are riding high. Television rights are another perennial “tamasha”. (remember Doordarhan’s telecast with a 7-minute delay!)
Again, negotiating contracts and arriving at mutually agreeable terms is a common corporate function. Given the BCCI’s complete lack of professionalism, it is not surprising that the BCCI and the players are in a permanent state of negotiation.
BCCI is the by far the richest board in the World, and there are more cricket players in India at the first class level than any country in the world. In other words, the BCCI is an organization that has the talent pool and the money, but lacks the commensurate results for it! New Zealand selects its national team from a pool of 150 players. That is the size of the entire pool they have to chose from! Yet they consistently make it to the World Cup semi-finals. India on the other hand, Oh well…
Team India’s performance is far from consistent. Precise planning and execution is required to ensure that the game is nurtured at the grassroots level. The quality of pitches in India need to be drastically improved. Ranji cricket for instance is played on dead wickets, leaving little scope for good bowling talent to develop. Most importantly, proper systems must be in place so new talent can bubble to the top without needless zonal pressures and politicking. Currently, there is no clear vision as to where Indian cricket is headed. Having crashed out of the World Cup, there is no better time than now to look ahead, set goals and make plans. Seasoned professional help can certainly make this a reality.
Last but not the least, there is no accountability whatsoever at any level in the BCCI. When was the last time someone resigned a post willingly taking responsibility for some failure? Unfortunately, this is not part of the BCCI culture. Accountability is an automatic by product of a corporate setting. If you fail to deliver, you take responsibility and quit or be prepared to face potentially dire consequences.
There have been allegations of financial wrong-doing by Dalmiya and his associates (which Mr. Dalmiya claims is a witch-hunt). While these charges have yet to be proven, there is no doubt that a professionally run setup can go a long way to minimize such issues.
All in all, there is a dire need for professionalism starting with the highest level of the BCCI. It has big bucks to chase, big egos to appease, and an obsessive, fanatic following to cater to. Unless a drastic change is made soon, the mess will only worsen and team India will continue to wallow in mediocrity.