Shastri, Gavaskar paid to preach BCCI gospel?

August 6, 2011

Going by this Mumbai Mirror report, the world’s richest cricket board has two of the most silver-tongued player-turned-commentators on its payroll to spread its agenda.

The report claims the Indian cricket board (BCCI) pays former captains Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri 3.6 crore rupees each year to defend its stance, often debatable, on controversial issues like the Decision Review System (DRS).

According to the report, no channel can broadcast an international match on Indian soil if the commentary team does not include the Mumbai duo, who have served BCCI in various capacities.

There is no denying the fact both the retired players have been quite close to BCCI administrators and served the board in various sub-committees and elsewhere.

Both Shastri and Gavaskar were influential, and paid, members of the IPL governing council, along with another former captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi.

In fact, many wondered what Gavaskar and Shastri were doing when IPL commissioner Lalit Modi was allegedly bending every rule in the book that eventually led to his ouster.

Shastri has recently been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate which is probing financial irregularities in IPL.

Former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi suspected Gavaskar and Shastri lent their names to the scandal-tainted IPL only because of money.

“Otherwise they wouldn’t! With so much of nonsense floating around IPL, you think they would still be around,” he told a TV channel last year.

Incidentally, this is not the first time that Gavaskar has been accused of having a conflict of interest.

The batting great headed the ICC Cricket Committee for eight years while continuing his media commitment. He eventually quit when asked to choose between the two.

Gavaskar is also the chairman of the BCCI Technical Committee.

Like him, Shastri too wields considerable influence as a member of the ICC Cricket Committee that recently recommended a compromised DRS where ball-tracking technology is no more mandatory, just what the BCCI wanted.

As a commentator, Shastri exhibits the kind of aggression that was lacking in his batting and his live spat with former England captain Nasser Hussain during the recent Trent Bridge test was heard by millions of listeners across the globe.

Shastri was also made chairman of the elite National Cricket Academy in 2008 before Anil Kumble replaced him.

Shastri apparently has no qualms being a BCCI-contracted commentator and he in fact tells Mumbai Mirror that if other commentators are offered similar contracts, they should sign as well.

Gavaskar too does not understand what the fuss is all about.

“But I don’t think there is an issue at all. I always speak my mind, and I’m always honest on air. I am not under instructions from anyone that I shouldn’t talk about this or talk about this,” he said.

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For the BCCI it is all about “Control”.

If these two expect us to believe that they are free to criticise the BCCI and get paid for doing it, they are insulting our intelligence.

Take Shastri’s spat with Hussain, is it true that when the DRS was being discussed Shastri actually backed it to the hilt in one of the meetings? Or is this a rumour?

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