Monthly Archives: May 2010

A VIP Defense, For Brutus is an honourable man…

So along very expected lines and according to a script that seldom varies, the BCCI is washing its dirty linen, in public! Again!

One should not expect anything more from an organisation that does not demonstrate an ability to spell professionalism, let alone live and breathe it! This time, Lalit Modi has taken on BCCI’s top-brass in a very public manner.

I must admit that my admiration for this man Lalit Modi just continues to grow. The man seems to possess more aces up his sleeve than a crook card pack can hold! My admiration for him is not because I like his method or his madness or his reported greed. Those are qualities that make me cringe. But I admire him because he has already demonstrated that he is a visionary who is prepared to take risks and pursue a seemingly treacherous path that is littered with land-mines. I admire him because he pursues these dreams with dedication, energy, passion, fire and focus. I admire the fact that he is bold. He is brave. And he is up for a fight. He does not insipre me to be like him but I do admire what he has achieved.

Essentially I admire him because he is a feisty guy, which is good (given the environment he operates in), but there’s a lot about him that I don’t want to like.

Donald Trump once said, “In business, when things aren’t working it’s time to mix it up.” I believe Lalit Modi has done just that. He has mixed it up. And how!

His latest salvo was fired today when he served a reverse show-cause notice on Shashank Manohar, President of BCCI and N. Srinivasan, Secretary of BCCI. He has asked that the two key adversaries in the BCCI show cause notice against him recuse themselves from the BCCI disciplinary committee and chronicles quite clearly and quite cleverly why that should happen. Incidentally, the BCCI President chairs the disciplinary committee and the BCCI Secretary, Srinivasan, convenes it!

Brilliant!

The full text of his 14-page letter to the BCCI is presented here.

First, he trains his sights on N. Srinivasan, the Secretary of the BCCI, becuase in my view Srinivasan forms “easy pickings”! The man’s case has enough holes to warrant being a highway for trucks to drive through!

The fact that N. Srinivasan, one of the BCCI Secretaries is conflicted is known and documented — by me and several others more qualified to comment on this than I! If I were the owner of a franchise like Royal Challengers Bangalore, say, I would have reason to be very worried that a competitor of mine was on the Governing Council of the league that I am pouring a fair bit of investment into. I would perhaps be worried that my competitor would have means and the wherewithal to alter the course of the construction of the competition in a beneficial manner, to suit his or her team over mine! These are legitimate conflicts of interest and one needs transparency and clear governance principles to guard against such abuse potential.

Modi has claimed — with evidence — that bidding rules in the initial player auction were altered under pressure from Srinivasan to benefit the BCCI Secretary’s team. This is a serious allegation of trying to deliver his team, The Chennai Super Kings (CSK) an undue advantage by virtue of his position on the Governing Council of the IPL!

And this is exactly the theme of Lalit Modi’s second rocket, in which he alleges — with some proof no less — that N. Srinivasan tried to alter the allocation of umpires for CSK games. He has claimed in his “counter show cause notice” against the BCCI Secretary that this is tantamount to match- or result-fixing.

Very clever!

He further states that Srinivasan used his influence on the Governing Council to push for a retention of a certain number of players in the re-auction of players for IPL-4. In other words, the “conflict of interest” case that I have talked about early on (and in the previous paragraphs) is exactly what Modi has penned down quite cleverly in his attack on Srinivasan.

I am surprised that no one else recognizes this conflict at the BCCI! However, it appears from Lalit Modi’s counter charge that there is more to it than just the surface level conflict of interest.

Moreover, Lalit Modi has stated that there is a documented evidence of persecution by Srinivasan of him and his designs for IPL and the BCCI.

Essentially, what Modi has done is he has mounted a clever attack prior to self-defense. He has cast enough of an aspersion and a character assassination of one of the key people gunning for him on the disciplinary committee that will hear his case! His attempt is to sideline his principal detractor in the BCCI, N. Srinivasan.

Second, Lalit Modi trains his sights on the BCCI President, Shashank Manohar. While Lalit Modi’s attack against Srinivasan was direct, bullish, head-on and while it showed his street-fighter qualities, his attack on Shashank Manohar is subtle and sarcasm-loaded. Moreover, his case against Manohar is not really water tight. So he borrows from schools of illusion and sarcasm to build a case here!

He has borrowed heavily from the Mark Anthony school of attack here.

Right at the outset, for example, he states in his letter: “I am sure that the Hon. President, being an eminent lawyer of great reputation, would appreciate that, although it is me who is on trial, however, in a manner of speaking it is the Board itself, which is on trial.” This is along the tried and tested “For Brutus is an Honorable Man” school of argument. Next, he throws the gauntlet by stating that unless Shashank Manohar and N. Srinivasan excuse themselves from the disciplinary hearing and unless there is a clear demonstration of the principles of natural justice and fair play, the Board will be the loser. He identifies his cause with that of the Board and indicates that the Board itself is on trial!

Lalit Modi trains his sights on the BCCI President, Shashank Manohar through two main activities: (a) cancellation of the team-tender process on March 5 2010, and (b) the role of Manohar’s own hand-picked legal counsel for the BCCI, Akhila Kaushik. By mixing up these two — somewhat un-related events — he has created enough of an illusion to suggest Manohar’s complicity!

He cites a particularly damning episode of the recently concluded IPL auction and proceeds to allege that Shashank Manohar’s actions are somewhat broader than the straight-and-narrow in the aborted initial IPL tendering process for teams 9 and 10.

He proceeds to indicate that he would, therefore, like to interrogate the current BCCI President in responding to his own show-cause notice! The case for Shashank Manohar’s removal from the BCCI Disciplinary Committee is that, since Modi would like to interrogate Shashank Manohar as a witness, the person cannot perform an unbiased role as judge, complainant and witness in the same case!

Again, very clever. But the manner in which Lalit Modi — with much help from clever legal brains, no doubt — achieves his objectives is neat.

It was clear when the first tender process was aborted that something wasn’t quite right. I wrote at the time and suggested that there must be more to it than meets the eye! There clearly was.

Modi claims that when Shashi Tharoor’s office wanted to submit a late bid for Kochi in the original bid that closed on 5th March 2010, he himself did not want to accept it, even though Manohar, the BCCI President wanted Lalit Modi to “anti time” (sic!) the bid.

In a style that is reminiscent of the “For Brutus is an honorable man” school of Mark Anthony style rhetorical and sarcasm-loaded defense, Modi then states “You seemed to be under extreme pressure to ensure that the late bid be included in the bidding process. Since you failed to ensure that the bid could not be included you then decided to ensure that the bid process itself is cancelled.…I appreciate that due to involvement of a Cabinet Minister you had to do things which knowing you I believe you would not do in the normal course.”

In other words, “Shashank Manohar is an honourable man and would not have otherwise acted in the way he did, but for the extreme duress he was under.”

This was straight from Mark Anthony school: “I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke. But here I am to speak what I do know.”

He then proceeds to state that the contractual documents for the Sony MSM deal as well as the team auctions were vetted — nay, even prepared — by Shashank Manohar’s own hand-picked lawyer Akhila Kaushik. Therefore, the picture that Lalit Modi paints is that he was innocently following the instructions of the BCCI President! This again follows the classic Mark Anthony style of rhetorically sarcastic defense!

There is an illusory syllogism at play here. What he is essentially trying to say is (a) The bid documents may have been wrong, (b) They were prepared by a person hand-picked by you because they used to work for your fathers’ legal firm, (c) I was therefore, merely following orders!

Somewhat brilliant in my view.

Having achieved the aims of sidelining his two main adversaries on the disciplinary panel, Lalit Modi proceeds to make a case for judicial disqualification — or recusal — of the two main men in the game.

In this reckless chess game, he has used a ruthless and all-out public attack — of reputation as well as professional integrity — for the first time.

And this forms the bases of what I will call the “VIP Defense”, where VIP stands for that popular brand of underwear and the analogy with washing dirty linen in public is complete.

Who knows what the denouement will be in this potentially nasty saga? But things promise to get interesting before they get even better!

Meanwhile, let us hold our noses as the VIP Defense unfolds!

— Mohan

Of flying peanuts and conflicts of interest…

India is in pain again! Team India lost its way in the ICC WCT20 tournament. India exited the tournament with two wins in the preliminary stage and no wins in the Super-8 stage. If TV news-pundits are to be believed, the whole of India is burning with rage, anger and frustration.

I was not in India when India was crowned the #1 Test team in the world and so did not watch the chest-thumps and euphoria that that event generated. I was here on 1 April, when there was official confirmation from the ICC that India is indeed the #1 Test team in the world. That event went almost unnoticed because the IPL was on at that time. All eye balls were on IPL TRPs at that time! Back when India was re-confirmed as the top Test side in the world, coach Gary Kirsten, captain MS Dhoni and Team India were the toast of the town. Now they are both toast!

Back then, India had finally become world beaters! The media channels could not get enough of India’s stars. Today, “there is anger in India” (according to the media here) after the “humiliation” of the early exit from the ICC WCT20.

The pendulum has swung again. And how quickly!

Back then in April, the IPL frenzy seemed to distract everyone in India — especially the media. Suddenly it pitted Indians against Indians! A fan from Chennai was hailing the efforts of a burly-Australian or a wily-SriLankan or a cheeky-SouthAfrican and propping them as saviors against a strong Mumbai team or a stronger Bangalore team. Cricketers spent more time in the sky than on the ground. And when their feet were on the ground, they were either playing on the cricket field or on the dance floor at an IPL after-match party! Some cricketers even had to endure peanuts being flung at them — a new way of attracting attention from Bollywood hotties at these post-match IPL parties, it seemed!

Since then, all night clubs in Mumbai have had to endure peanut-fling pick-up-routines as a precursor to an actual fling! “Fling a peanut and score a one-night fling” is a new product that has been patented (or peanuted!). There is a scarcity of peanuts in Mumbai. Everyone is hell bent on flinging peanuts at each other as a way of attracting attention!

Jokes apart, these post-match IPL-parties seemed to be completely testosterone-charged and ended up draining the creative (and other) juices of the men who played the game!

Something was awry. But no one seemed to want to do anything about it especially as the coffers were getting filled up faster than the cash could be deposited in various bank accounts. If people did not want to be a part of the action they wanted the action! Almost everyone was conflicted and no one wanted to do anything about it.

Meanwhile, our senses were constantly being brutalized and attacked on TV and Twitter by a visionary Lisp. We also had to endure a colorful Sikh on TV who hated being interrupted and liked answering all questions even if they were not addressed at him! “You know, my friend” he would bellow in a manner that resembled long-distance phone conversations in the 1960s and 1970s when one needed to shout to be heard; one wondered why this man ever needed a microphone! He had certainly read the book on cheesy phrases and mindless one-liners! We had to tolerate scantily-clad noodle-straps and Bollywood stars who constantly attacked our senses on TV either with their juvenile cricket gyaan or a blatant plug for their forthcoming movie.

The cricket was good. Club-Vs-Club cricket was also intense. It was, according to Anil Kumble, so intense that it probably drained players when they reached the West Indies! Despite all the negative attention it has received lately, and despite noodle-straps, colorful Sikhs with no need for a microphone, cheesy one-liners, peanut-parties, lisps and hoopla, IPL-3 was good, in my view.

And then it all went pear shaped.

Lalit Modi was “twattered”. Sashi Tharoor was “done in”. The IPL Governing Council members distanced themselves and ran away as fast and as furiously as they could from the very coffers that they had managed — they only managed the coffers and not the game, in my view! Show cause notices were issued without the issuers having even a basic understanding of the word “show” or without anyone understanding either the “cause” or the “effect”!

Then, the final nail in the coffin was Team India’s disastrous performance in the WCT20 tournament.

Just as Team India was booking its airline tickets for their return home, BCCI announced the team that would represent India at the tri-nations T20 and ODI tournament in Zimbabwe involving Zimbabwe, India and Sri Lanka. The matches commence May 28 and conclude on June 13.

Kris Srikkanth, the BCCI Chairman of selectors has “rested” as many as 9 (yes, nine) Team India ODI players for this tournament. Yes that is correct! MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh and Praveen Kumar are being “rested”. It is likely that Virender Sehwag and Praveen Kumar are carrying injuries. But even so, that is a fair number of players that have been rested in one fell swoop!

I have to pose this question to Kris Srikkanth: As Chennai Super Kings Brand Ambassador, did he ever request MS Dhoni to “rest” and “sit out” 4-5 IPL games with a view to Dhoni playing in the tri-series donning India colors? Or did he have an undeclared, unmanaged and out-of-control conflict of interest there?

Can Kris Srikkanth effectively marry his role as Brand Ambassador of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and National Selector? I do not believe so. Kris Srikkanth is horribly conflicted in my view. The only aspect of this sordid scenario that makes Srikkanth look good is that his boss, Mr N. Srinivasan, the owner of CSK, is even more horribly conflicted than Srikkanth is! As Kris Srikkanth tries to extract every ounce of effort from his CSK team members, exhort them to give off their very best and get them to stretch every sinew in their already weakened bodies to secure a win for CSK, he would have to know that their efforts for CSK would severely compromise their efforts for Team India.

Witness the team that Srikkanth has selected to tour Zimbabwe! It does not have MS Dhoni in it! Why? Could MS Dhoni not have been rested for 4-5 games that CSK played?

How can N. Srinivasan, the owner of CSK not expect the very best from MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina and M Vijay on the field and in CSK after-match parties? He is after all the owner of CSK and, as the person that has made a major investment, he would (and he should) expect rich returns for the shareholding in that investment! He should expect his personal wealth to increase as a direct consequence of the risk that he has ventured into. And the only way that can happen is by forcing players — either through contracts or by setting unwritten expectations — that they have to give off their best on the field and in smoke-filled dance floors! It is not wrong to castigate N. Srinivasan or belittle him for attempting to augment his personal wealth. After all, Vijay Mallaya, Priety Zinta and Nita Ambani are doing just that! So why would I be a moral cop and pull Srinivasan up for attempting to augment the size of his wallet?

However, as a Team India fan, I do have a problem with him doing that while donning BCCI colors. That just does not stack up for me. Something has to give. It is not enough to merely declare conflicts. These conflicts have to be actively managed.

Srikkanth’s action of includng MS Dhoni in every CSK game that Dhoni was available for and then “resting” him for the Zimbabwe tour does not seem to me to reflect the actions of a man who is managing a known and declared conflict of interest.

There may be many reasons for Team India’s poor showing at the ICC WCT20 tournament. Judging from the mass-resting of nine Team India players, physical/mental “fatigue” and too many late-night parties in dark rooms — not to mention, trying to dodge peanut flings! — may be one of the reasons! Others may well be the sudden and inexplicable loss of form of players like Zaheer Khan, Gautam Gambhir, the prolonged loss of form of Yuvraj Singh (which even a “goatee” could not reign in), wrong team selection, poor fielding, the team’s inability to cope with chin music in the short form of the game, the absence of Virender Sehwag, etc.

I am not perturbed by the fact that India lost. I have always said that we must learn to celebrate wins and tolerate losses with equanimity and dignity. However, the manner of India’s loss hurts more than the fact that India lost! Witness Gautam Gambhir’s running in the last Super8 game against Sri Lanka! It was the running of a man who was completely fatigued; a man whose focus was not quite on his game.

But my point is that if players are “fatigued” by too much cricket and testosterone-driven peanut activities, why were they not rested during the IPL? I do think post-match IPL-parties have outlived their utility. I am reasonably confident that these parties will be committed to the archives of the BCCI and IPL offices.

However, more importantly, I would like the BCCI to enforce a rule whereby each IPL team can use a “contracted” Team India player in no more than 10 (say) of the 16 games that each team plays (or 11 of the 18 games in IPL-4). In other words, each IPL team must be forced to bring into play a rotation policy that keeps players “fresh” and available for Team India assignments.

Mind you, the team chosen by Kris Srikkanth and his band of merry friends is not really bad although I find it somewhat mysterious that Robin Uthappa and Abhimanyu Mithun cannot find a place in the team. Is Uthappa injured? And if Mithun can be good enough to play for the last ODI series that India played in, what has happened between then and now for him to sit this series out?

That said, the team for the tri-series has a bunch of players that will soon be knocking the doors of Team India. Some of them are already playing in India colors in some form of the game or other.

The team is:

M Vijay
Dinesh Karthik / Naman Ojha (wk)
Suresh Raina (capt)
Virat Kohli (vice-capt)
Rohit Sharma
Yusuf Pathan
Ravindra Jadeja
R Ashwin / Amit Mishra / Pragyan Ojha
Umesh Yadav
Vinay Kumar
Ashok Dinda / Pankaj Singh

Meanwhile, the Indian media that chest-thumped India to #1 Test side in the world and #2 ODI side in the world in angry. Yes, the Indian media is very angry and demands answers!

Rahul Kanwal is Editor of Headlines Today a news channel. I watched a segment yesterday in which the young and erudite Kanwal assembled past captains like Kapil Dev, Mohammed Azharuddin, Bishen Singh Bedi, Imran Khan (for a perspective from a foreign hand, no doubt) and Sourav Ganguly to ask them for their views on the Team India WCT20 “debacle”. The Indian fan is angry and demands answers, roared the young Kanwal. He goaded the panel to castigate. He brayed for blood. He wanted names of people whose heads deserved to rest on a block of wood as the guillotine came crashing down. He was passionate and emotional as he roared his way through the program. Did I mention that he was angry too?

Mohammed Azharuddin thundered that no player can be above the game. He said, “For a player, cricket should come first and everything else is secondary!” Really now?

— Mohan

Party is over now the hangover..

The IPL party got over and our players experienced the hangover in West Indies.

The basics to passing any exam or winning any tournament are very simple: Preparation and practice. BCCI thinks IPL is a practice and preparation tournament for WC.Rajiv Shukla from BCCI already knows  that the IPL was no reason for the team’s collective failure ! I beg to disagree.

 Have you ever prepared for an exam where you had to pass all your practice tests else your eligibility for the actual exam comes under question? IPL is not a practice tournament its much bigger than that. You cannot expect to play a demanding tournament mentally and physically for 2 months and expect to perform in the next one within a span of week. Especially when the quality of competition and the environment is completely different.

 People are quick to question Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s captaincy when the same guy was the toast of the town for winning the IPL.Such a drastic change in assessment of someone’s capability in such a short time needs to be analysed.The coach also has a role here.

 Gary Kirsten mentioned that IPL was the reason for his team’ s poor performance in last years WC. What stopped him from raising this concern before this year’s IPL? Is he not responsible for the Indian team’s mental and physical ability also for such a tournament? If there was a weakness against a particular bowling style what did the coach do about it? Especially after losing one match.I know you cannot overcome a weakness overnight but would you not try to work around your batting order to nullify the weakness a bit.

While the team selection was questionable and Krishnamachari Srikkanth will probably face the axe.The real question is does BCCI want to run a successful business venture or nurture a world-class cricket team? There is clearly a conflict of interest here.

-Harinee

Sachin – the next big celeb on Twitter

Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) is now on Twitter, and if you haven’t already heard about it, where have you been hiding? There are tweets, blogs, text messages, news paper articles, etc that have been announcing this. And already the number of people following him has hit close to 150,000.

I am not sure this will have the same effect that Oprah Winfrey had on Twitter when she joined (I think something like 1.2 Million people joined Twitter that day), but as far as Indian celebrities go, SRT on Twitter is *big*. I may be wrong, but I think SRK (@iamsrk) is the Indian celeb with the most followers currently, and Sachin should be able to go past him quite easily.

If you are on Twitter, though and love Indian cricket, there are quite a few others from the current team you can follow –

There are probably a few more Indian cricketers, but the one that created the most controversy in Indian cricket with his tweets, Lalit Modi, has quite a few followers. You can read his tweets here -  http://twitter.com/LalitKModi

But be aware that there is no way of determining if all the celebs in Twitter are the real deal or some impersonator. Contrary to what some people believe, Dhoni doesn’t tweet (although there are 4 people claiming to be him)

There are heaps of international cricketers who blog (from Mark Boucher to Darren Gough), but if I were to pick just a couple of colourful personalities to follow, then I would go with these two:

Oh, and just for the record, you can follow i3j3 bloggers too 🙂 –

-Mahesh-

My T20 WC lineup…

ICC world T20 2010 has started and we have 12 teams in fray.The minnows in T20 are also capable of major upsets and Bangladesh and Afghanistan have showed in their first match that they are no pushovers.
This the semifinal line-up I anticipate to see. And I base this on the team constitution and quality of captaincy.

Pakistan:
They have a captain who can be rated among the best T20 players in the world. And he is lucky to have a team which will allow him to focus solely on cricket not on other unnecessary politics usually associated with Pakistan teams.Unlike his predecessors he has no egos to deal with in his team either.The youngsters will be keen to perform and Pakistanis usually seem to deliver when it matters most when there are no power struggles in the team.

South Africa:
I will not be suprised to see them make it to the final. They have a good batting and bowling line up with allrounders. Kallis is a match winner in good form. Graeme smith and Duminy’s form could be of concern here.But Smith’s captaincy complements his lack of form.

New Zealand:
I am expecting Mccullum, vettori and ross taylor to contribute mainly to take this team to semis.Jesse Ryder again is capable of winning matches single-handedly for NZ. Return of Shane bond should help the bowling line-up .Again Vettori is a shrewd captain and that greatly augments NZ chances.
India/West Indies:
There is also slightly wishful thinking that it is India which makes it. India and WI both seem to have a weak top order at present with Gayle missing and Gambhir struggling.For WI, return of Gayle and Pollard could make a difference and there is the home advantage.India also don’t have the best bowling lineup.
For India if Yuvraj strikes form  he could more than make up for the weak top order and solid batting order could overcome the bowling inconsistency.Again Dhoni is a way much better captain than Gayle.

Srilanka does not look very strong this time.Jayasuraiya and muralitharan are not very clever choices for T20 at world level. Also dilshan,mathews and sangakkara are not in very good form. And the most important factor for T20 is captaincy which is a big minus for SL.

Australia somehow have never been good in this format and I dont expect any change in their performance.Watson is the only bright spot here and I dont understand the exclusion of Bollinger in this squad.

I could be completely off the mark here as there are lot of new players in the fray and T20 can be quite unpredictable.Would love to see the predictions from others.

– Harinee