Skipper in the saddle

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Supreme Court puts Sunil Gavaskar in charge of IPL-7, cricket community welcomes the captain on board

The Supreme Court ruled on Friday that cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar will replace controversial BCCI President N Srinivasan during IPL season-7 to ensure a fair probe into the spot-fixing and betting scandal of IPL-6.

Providing some relief to the BCCI, the apex court said it will not stop any player or team, including Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR), from playing in this year’s event. In the wake of serious allegations of betting and spot fixing allegedly involving officials and players, the court had previously proposed prohibiting the two teams from playing in this season’s league.

A bench of justices A K Patnaik and F M Ibrahim Kalifulla also ruled that senior BCCI vice president Shivlal Yadav will look after the board's affairs other than IPL. This arrangement, the court clarified, shall prevail till it delivers its final verdict on the case pertaining to corruption in the IPL. The court also asked Gavaskar to get out of contractual obligations with BCCI for television commentary and said he would be compensated for the job of interim president by BCCI.

The court stipulated that except players and commentators, no other employee of India Cements or its subsidiary or associate companies will participate in any duties or functioning of the board. The bench left it to Gavaskar to decide whether the present CEO of IPL, Sundar Raman, can continue in the post or be replaced following allegations made against him of protecting Srinivasan.

The apex order passed the order after perusing the Justice Mudgal Committee report that went into betting and spot-fixing charges against CSK and RR players during IPL 6. The next hearing will take place on April 16, coincidentally on the same day that IPL is set to begin in the UAE.

Meanwhile, BCCI told the court that MS Dhoni never made a statement that Gurunath Meiyappan was just a cricket enthusiast. Dhoni has been wrongly defamed after Thursday’s proceedings in which false allegations were levelled against him, the board’s lawyer said in court. The BCCI also pleaded with the court to allow Srinivasan to hold the post of International Cricket Council (ICC) chairman.

PTI adds: Hailing the SC’s decision not to suspend Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals from playing in IPL 7, BCCI VP Rajeev Shukla said that the order was in the best interest of the game and cricket fans. “We have no objection to the SC order. The BCCI lawyers have also said that the order is acceptable. Even Srinivasan had said through the lawyers that he is willing to step aside and after that what court decides will be acceptable to him,” Shukla said. “The good thing is that all eight teams will play in this year’s IPL. IPL will go on and there will be no hindrance.”

Reacting to senior counsel Harish Salve’s accusation that Dhoni was “guilty of corrupt practice” by lying before the Mudgal Committee on Meiyappan’s role in CSK, Shukla said: “It was not wise to drag Dhoni in this matter. He has nothing to do with it.”

Shivlal Yadav, who will look after all non-IPL affairs of the BCCI, has vowed to give his best. “Once I take charge I will be able to give more clarity about cricket and other activities of BCCI,” he said. Yadav, however, refused to comment on the scandal-hit IPL. “I don’t want to talk about it as the SC has given specific order that the IPL will be with Gavaskar. I think this decision will improve the image of cricket,” he said.

Former India captain and team manager Chandu Borde also hailed the Supreme Court’s decision. “Gavaskar doesn’t take decisions in haste. During his playing days he took many a challenges and responsibilities. I think he will fulfil this responsibility with aplomb,” added the former chairman of selectors.

“Gavaskar is known for playing with the straight bat. There will be a lot of transparency under his guidance. He is known to have his own mind and I don’t think anyone would dare to indulge in corrupt practices with him at the helm,” said the 79-year-old Borde. Unrecognised Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB) secretary Aditya Verma, the petitioner in the IPL corruption scandalcase, too was satisfied with the SC’s order. “It is good that one of the finest batsman and a legendary player like Gavaskar will handle IPl affairs,” he said.

However, former BCCI treasurer Ajay Shirke believed the interim order was a ‘mild one’ and it gave Srinivasan another lifeline. “Earlier the SC had made strong observations and compared to those, this order I would say is very mild. What I would like to see is the BCCI really getting their act together and completely clean up cricket,” he said.

Former Test captain Ajit Wadekar also hailed Gavaskar’s appointment. Wadekar, under whom Gavaskar made a sensational debut in the historic 1971 Test series in the West Indies, said: “Glad that a legend like Gavaskar has been given the charge of the BCCI. Really good to see cricketers at the helm.”

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