Guha takes on Kohli, Gavaskar, Ganguly, Dravid in 7-page resignation letter
New Delhi: Renowned historian Ramachandra Guha, in his resignation letter to the Committee of Administrators, raised some serious issues in Indian Cricket, such as 'superstar culture', unaddressed conflict of issues and BCCI's 'insensitive' handling of head coach Anil Kumble.
Guha took on everyone in his resignation letter, questioning Virat Kohli's role in selection of coach and alleging conflict of interest on part of legends like Sunil Gavaskar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid.
In a seven-page letter, he also targeted the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for allotting Grade A central contract to former skipper MS Dhoni, who took retirement from Test Cricket several years back.
Guha went on expressing his disgust to Rai claiming that the speculated Kohli-Kumble fallout was handled in an extremely insensitive and unprofessional manner by BCCI CEO Rahul Johri and the BCCI office-bearers including Amitabh Chaudhary.
He held CoA guilty of being silent and inactive, alleging that the panel was "unfortunately being complicit in this regard". He even recommended Javagal Srinath's name to replace him as a former cricketer in the Committee of Administrators.
Guha, however, has cited personal reasons behind his exit from the CoA, but his letter has raised a lot seriously uncomfortable questions for the administrators of Indian Cricket.
Guha has severely criticized the 'veto power' given to Virat Kohli in matters like appointment of a coach and even the commentators' panel. His allegations have provided a strong backing to the recent rumours suggesting a fallout between Anil Kumble and Virat Kohli.
In his resignation letter, he writes, "If indeed the captain and the Head Coach were not getting along, why was not this attended to as soon as the Australia series was over in late March? Why was it left until the last minutes, when a major international tournament was imminent, and when the uncertainty would undermine the morale and ability to focus of the coach, the captain and the team."
"And surely giving senior players the impression that they may have a veto power over the coach is another example of superstar culture gone berserk? Such a veto power is not permitted to any other top level professional team in any other sport in any other country," he categorically states.
In an indirect dig at Kohli, Guha wrote that today players have been given authority to interfere in the matters pertaining to appointment of coaches and commentators. Tomorrow, they may be given authority to have a say on selecting the office-bearers.
It may be recalled that widely acclaimed Cricket expert Harsha Bhogle was removed from the commentators' panel for on-air criticism of Virat Kohli.
"Already, in a dismaying departure from international norms, current Indian players enjoy a veto power on who can be the members of the commentary team. If it is to be coaches next, then perhaps the selectors and even office-bearers will follow?"
Guha expressed sheer disappointment over the superstar culture in the Indian Cricket that purportedly played a major role in allowing Dhoni retain a 'Grade A' contract even when he is not representing the country in all three formats of the game. Dhoni had retired from the longer format of the game in 2014.
"Unfortunately, this superstar syndrome has also distorted the system of Indian team contracts. As you will recall, I had pointed out that awarding MS Dhoni an 'A' contract when he had explicitly ruled himself out from all Test matches was indefensible on cricketing grounds, and sends absolutely the wrong message," he wrote.
He also went harsh on living legend Rahul Dravid for having dual contracts with both the BCCI and IPL franchises.
"No person under contract with an India team, or with the NCA, should be allowed to moonlight for an IPL team too," he writes.
He questioned why Dravid, who is India A coach, and R Sridhar (fielding coach) were allowed to have IPL contracts with Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab, respectively.
He went on writing in his letter, "The question of conflict of interest, which had laid unaddressed ever since the Committee began its work, and which I have been repeatedly flagging since I joined.
"For instance, the BCCI has accorded preferential treatment to some national coaches, by giving them ten month contracts for national duty, thus allowing them to work as IPL coaches/mentors for the remaining two months."
"This was done in an ad-hoc and arbitrary manner; the more famous the former player-turned-coach, the more likely was the BCCI to allow him to draft his own contract that left loopholes that he exploited to dodge the conflict of interest issue," Guha wrote in a very flamboyant manner, indirectly targeting Dravid, who till date has been one of the most taintless cricketers across the world.
Apart from taking on Virat Kohli and Rahul Dravid, Guha also had strong reservations about Sunil Gavaksar's business interests in Professional Management Group (PMG) and his firm managing a current player -- Shikhar Dhawan. He, in fact, told Rai how he had apprised them of PMG signing up Dhawan's endorsements.
"Sunil Gavaskar is head of a company which represents Indian cricketers while commenting on those cricketers as part of the BCCI TV commentary panel. This is a clear conflict of interest. Either he must step down/withdraw himself from PMG completely or stop being a commentator for BCCI."
After Gavaskar, Guha took on Sourav Ganguly, the former team India captain, who is a TV expert besides being current president of the Cricket Association of Bengal.
"Conflict of interest is rampant in the State Associations as well. One famous former cricketer is contracted by media houses to comment on active players while serving as President of his State Association (read Ganguly)."
Guha appealed Rai and his colleagues to take some stringent steps to uphold the credibility of the committee.
"COA's credibility and effectiveness hinges on our being able to take bold and correct decisions on such matters. The 'superstar' culture that afflicts the BCCI means that the more famous the player (former or present) the more leeway he is allowed in violating norms and procedures.
"Dhoni was captain of the Indian team while holding a stake in a firm that represented some current India players. (Referring to Rhiti Sports that had Suresh Raina, Karn Sharma, RP Singh in its rolls). This must stop - and only we can stop it," he writes.