Conflict of interest allegation ‘baseless’ as CAC not permanent body

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Responding to the conflict-of-interest allegation against him, former India batsman VVS Laxman criticised the Committee of Administrators’ handling of the Cricket Advisory Committee,and alleged complete lack of communication from the Vinod Rai-led panel.

Laxman said the COA has been using the CAC only for the selection of senior national coaches, despite having promised the CAC a broader role earlier.

Laxman, in his official response to the Ombudsman-cum-Ethics-Officer, Justice DK Jain, rebutted the allegations of ‘conflict of interest’, and stated that he is ready to “recuse” himself if he is found to be in a position of conflict.

“On December 7, 2018, we had written to the Committee of Administrators requesting them to clarify the scope of our role and responsibilities. To this date, there has been no reply. Since no tenure had been mentioned in the letter of intent issued in 2015, it was only reasonable to expect some communication on whether the CAC was still in existence. Unfortunately that hasn’t been forthcoming,” Laxman wrote in his affidavit filed through his lawyer.

Laxman, along with Tendulkar, replied to notices served by the Ombudsman, following a complaint by Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association (MPCA) life-member Sanjeev Gupta against their dual roles as mentors in IPL franchises (Sunrisers Hyderabad in Laxman’s case) and CAC members.

“It will be worthwhile to note that the reason I agreed to be a member was because of the various inputs we were originally tasked with contributing towards the sustained growth of Indian cricket,” he wrote in his reply.

“The opportunity to be involved meaningfully in India’s climb towards becoming a cricketing superpower post retirement was privilege enough for me to turn down the offer of remuneration of being a part of CAC,” Laxman said in his affidavit, point 3 (c).

“The allegation of the complainant are baseless as we are in no manner selectors of either players or coaches, and CAC is not a permanent body,” he wrote.

The pertinent points of his affidavit were 3 (d) and (e), where he criticised the CoA, insisting that the body was never really forthcoming on the scope and role of the CAC.

Laxman said the roles of the CAC, as told to him in 2015, included focusing on improving performances of the national team overseas, creating a pathway to track a young cricketer’s career from U-19 to India A to the international team, ODIs and Test cricket for the country’s top players, managing workload for fast bowlers, means to improve the quality of Indian spinners, and education and life-skills for young cricketers.

He said no such input was ever sought by the BCCI.

“…none of the CAC members has (sic) been called on to give our opinion on any subjects except to be invited to be involved in the selection of national coaches and, once, the selection of junior national selectors. However, this is by no means a regular process and I am in no manner to be considered a selector.”

Laxman also claimed that the COA did not even give the three-member committee – the third member being Sourav Ganguly – enough time to confirm availability to select the women’s head coach.

ad-hoc committee, comprising Kapil Dev, Shantha Rangaswamy and Anshuman Gaekwad, selected WV Raman as the head coach.

Laxman urged the Ombudsman to view the “Conflict of Interest clause from the perspective of whether in the performance of my duties as a CAC member, I am being influenced by external factors”.

“It is my respectful submission that when I am barely required to discharge any duties as a member of the CAC, which I wasn’t even sure existed due to the lack of communication until I received this notice, questions of any conflict of interest doesn’t arise.”

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