Mumbai: The new chief of India’s embattled cricket board said Sunday the body was not “running away” from reforms following corruption scandals, but he remained opposed to a key recommendation from the country’s top court.
Lawmaker Anurag Thakur, 41, was elected as the youngest-ever president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) following a special meeting in Mumbai.
Thakur, a member of parliament for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and a close ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is charged with reforming one of the most powerful organisations in world sport.
He told a packed press conference after the meeting that the reforms were a continuous process, and the cash-rich BCCI was ready to take them to “the next level”.
“Whatever is possible and practical and is required, we are implementing that from time to time.
“I see an opportunity here, it’s time to deliver,” he added.
However, he followed his predecessor Shashank Manohar in remaining intransigent on a Supreme Court recommendation calling for a ban on television adverts between overs during live broadcasts.
Thakur, who was previously secretary of the BCCI, was the sole nomination on Sunday for the top post, seen by many as the most powerful in global cricket.
He will have his hands full as the BCCI is under enormous pressure to introduce reforms after being tarnished by scandals including accusations of corruption and match-fixing in the glitzy Indian Premier League.
In the wake of those scandals, the Supreme Court ordered a retired judge to draw up a report on the BCCI’s governance to try to avoid future conflicts of interest.
Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha’s report recommended the BCCI introduce age limits for its office-bearers and bring in the advert ban.
– Advert row -Manohar quit the BCCI presidency earlier this month, saying the reforms were not in the BCCI’s best interests and he felt he could no longer carry on in his role.
On Saturday Manohar, who then became the first independent chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC), told reporters that the recommendations on no adverts between overs “would destroy the financial structure” of the BCCI.
Thakur, a three-time MP in Himachal Pradesh state, pointed out to journalists that newspapers run adverts beside stories about the Indian Premier League.
“The BCCI gets its revenue from advertisements and that is how we pay our employees and our state association,” he said.
But he insisted the BCCI was “not running away from the recommendations”.
“We understand our responsibility towards the most popular sport in India and we will give our 100 percent,” Thakur said.
Thakur has been involved with the BCCI since he was elected president of his state association aged just 25. Last year he pipped the incumbent to the secretary’s post by a single vote.
The BCCI benefits from huge TV deals that allow it effectively to run the world governing body — the ICC — along with its allies, Australia and England.
However under reforms that Manohar had himself supported, it is no longer possible to be both ICC chairman and to head the national board of a member country.
Manohar had been serving as head of the ICC in his role as president of the BCCI in line with the organisation’s previous system of rotating chairmanships.
But under the reforms, the ICC has amended its constitution to bring in direct elections for the position. It will now be officially an independent post, a move designed to ensure the incumbent no longer feels obliged to promote his own country’s interests.