Meet N. Srinivasan, Master Of Indian Cricket

Forgive me, Indian readers, but I only recently discovered N. Srinivasan and his octopus-like reach in Indian cricket. For those not in the know, Srinivasan has an unbelievable amount of power: the former Sheriff of Madras, he is currently the BCCI’s Treasurer  (and Duncan Fletcher’s minder); co-owner of the Chennai Super Kings (he presented Dhoni the IPL trophy this weekend); president of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association; member of the IPL governing council (and Lalit Modi scourge), and, just because he wants it, the president of the All India Chess Federation. (And he does a terrible job at it, apparently).

Prem Panicker has done a good job outlining why so much concentrated power is a bad thing (and why ‘conflict of interest’ laws need to be strengthened). Excerpt from a characteristically thorough and pungent post:

First, [franchise officials] point out, [Srinivasan] almost single-handedly rammed in the player retention clause when, besides CSK and Mumbai, all other franchises were against it. ‘If the IPL is democratically run, how come decisions are taken just because it suits one or two franchises?,’ one person closely connected with an under-rated franchise asked on phone. Further, Srinivasan set the norms for the auction, decided which player would go in which category, and when each name would come up for auction — which is just dandy since, as a team-owner, he could in advance plan the CSK strategy, then tailor the auction process to suit his team.

Sharda Ugra also spelled out the problems with the current set-up and how it affected Gautam Gambhir’s treatment:

Through the saga of Gambhir – and, before him, the similar case of Virender Sehwag – the simplest question is this: which of the three parties in this case could have made the most-objective decision? The player, for whom the financial benefit – his contract with Kolkata Knight Riders was worth $2.4 million a season – of playing 64 hours of cricket over six weeks is far too lucrative to ignore? The franchise, whose most expensive auction pick was turning out to be its most valuable one? Or the BCCI, the IPL’s owners, whose essential job is to ensure the health and welfare of that entity called “Indian cricket?”

I don’t know much about sports administration, and I frequently lament coverage of Indian cricket in India, which naturally tends to focus much more on the sport than who runs it. I remain disturbed that Sharad Pawar, another wearer of many hats, thinks he can run both Indian agriculture and Indian cricket at the same time (to say nothing about Maharasthra, one of India’s biggest and most complicated states). I now realize that Fletcher’s praise of the BCCI as more “modern” may have been mere flattery.

The general hope is that a scandal — financial or otherwise — will lead to a more streamlined and objective administration. I’m increasingly skeptical. We see now, as Panicker notes, that the usual mode is that a scandal merely displaces one set of elite interests for another (from Dalmiya to Pawar; from Modi to Srinivasan). My requests to bloggers: do you know any reporter who covers the BCCI/state associations? And do you know what an IPL cricket players association would look like?

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6 thoughts on “Meet N. Srinivasan, Master Of Indian Cricket

  1. Ram says:

    Be not so quick to blast down the player retention rules.
    Remember the icon system in the first 3 IPLs ? 6 teams had a player in the team even before the auction & whose salary was entirely outside the salary cap – except for CSK and RR. Remember MSD’s salary was 1.5 M USD which shows how much having an “icon” means to a team. The purpose of the icon system was to build up fan support for the teams in their respective cities- exactly what the player retention rules also intended, except an arbitrary & contentious amount was taken out of the cap – surely that’s better than the old system?
    Another point – if all 8 teams had retained 4 players, and had 4.5 M only left, that would have left the 2 new teams able to call the shots on the auction floor, the other 8 would have been more cautious & 2 M dollar deals would not have been so frequent.
    As for Srinivasan, I think he’s in a class of his own compared to the likes of Modi- something like the Mafia dudes. Only the 2nd time his name has been commonly mentioned in the last 6 months. People almost forget that such a powerful guy exists.

    • Mahek says:

      What on earth are you talking about man? The Icon Players’ salaries were fixed at 7% more than that of their franchise’s highest paid player and the salary did count toward the franchise’s salary cap.

      I don’t have a problem with the player retention rule per se. I’d allow franchises to even retain as many players as they want provided they match the market value. This means all the players go into the auction. If Dhoni drew a winning bid of 3 million from Pune, CSK would have the option of retaining him for that much. That way, atleast the salacy cap wouldn’t have been made a mockery of the way it’s been this season.

      If all 8 teams would’ve retained 4 players each there would be hardly any quality Indian players left in the auction. There would still be some good overseas players left but the supply-demand mechanics of the IPL have meant that Indian players will always go for much higher prices than their foreign counterparts.

  2. Ram says:

    And I believe Panicker is wrong, in the auction, player were put into pools according to their base prices & their specialties and were then picked out at random within the pool. I am not sure though, I watched around 10 min & then got bored. Cricinfo had a live commentary of the auctions & you can check that out. As far as strategy was concerned, stupidity reigned, I remember higher salaries were paid for Chawla, Umesh Yadav, Tiwary, Botha than to R.Ashwin.

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