Calcutta: Sunil Gavaskar and Malcolm Speed, the outgoing chief executive of the International Cricket Council (ICC), had a “civil discussion” for at least 30 minutes on Wednesday.
They met in Dubai, where the ICC is headquartered.
An ICC media release didn’t exactly say so in as many words, but it’s clear that Gavaskar, who heads the powerful cricket committee, has been asked to choose between continuing in that role and working as a TV commentator and columnist.
The former India captain has to get back with his “views” after the next cricket committee meeting, on May 5-6, and before the ICC’s annual conference week (June 29-July 4).
Gavaskar’s term ends in the summer of 2010.
“The chief executive and Gavaskar had a civil discussion… They’ve worked with each other for years… It’s for Gavaskar to weigh his options and get back to the ICC,” a spokesman for the world body said in the evening.
The release, by the way, included the following: “The meeting followed discussions by the ICC (executive) board last week concerning the potential for a conflict of interest for a person chairing the cricket committee while, at the same time, working for a media outlet…”
What’s strange is that the ICC has suddenly woken up to the “potential for a conflict,” even though Gavaskar had been a mediaman when he got the chairmanship eight years ago.
Obviously, Gavaskar’s brutally candid comments (both on the TV and in his columns) during Team India’s recent tour of Australia have made the ICC — particularly England and Australia — see red.
Even more strangely, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) hasn’t extended any support to Gavaskar.
The BCCI did issue a statement on Wednesday afternoon, but it made for pathetic reading. At the very least, there should have been one line saying that it would take up Gavaskar’s cause if the ICC’s executive board made an issue of the “conflict of interest.”
The question doing the rounds is: Has a deal been struck, whereby the BCCI won’t cry foul and, as a result, gain in some other manner?
Among those very upset with developments is another distinguished former India captain, Kapil Dev, now being treated as an outcast by the BCCI for his involvement with the Indian Cricket League.
“I think everybody is looking for yes men… Sunil began writing columns decades ago, so what’s new? Also, if he holds an honorary position, then now can he be stopped from earning his livelihood? The ICC should be broad-minded,” he told The Telegraph.
Kapil added: “I’m not surprised that the BCCI hasn’t come out in Sunil’s support... In fact, has it ever really had time for us players? It may look after the big stars as long as they’re playing, use them, and then forget them once they’re through with the game... That, for me, is the BCCI...”
India’s only World Cup-winning captain has, clearly, experienced it all. Incidentally, Kapil’s isn’t exactly a lone voice.