The Indian cricket board, it appears, is likely to break a long partnership soon. The BCCI's professional relationship with cricketer-turned-commentator Sunil Gavaskar could come to an end anytime in April-May when his contract comes up for renewal.
The Times of India reported that Gavaskar has been a long-standing associate of the board's internally-held production house that hires its own commentators on a full-time basis apart from professionals who are hired by the broadcasters on a series-by-series basis. Sources say the board's rant is that the fee paid to Gavaskar "is astronomical" vis-a-vis the fee for which some others are ready to commentate for the BCCI panel. While other commentators are paid anywhere between Rs 35,000 to Rs 1 lakh per day for their services, Gavaskar was reportedly paid eight times that amount for a day's commentary .
Another sticking point for the BCCI - although some of its officials do not buy it - is that Gavaskar hasn't toed the board's views in his role as commentator. BCCI, meanwhile, has decided to continue with its policy of hiring full-time commentators and another former Mumbai cricketer and Gavaskar's junior, both in terms of playing the game and speaking on it, Sanjay Manjrekar and other prominent commentators, are likely to be promoted.
It is to be seen whether Gavaskar's long-time colleague Ravi Shastri will be hired by the BCCI full-time going forward or handled with the same gloves as his senior.
Shastri's role as director of the Indian team has come to an end and sources say he is unlikely to continue in any capacity where Team India is concerned. The former India all-rounder will be available for commentary when the ninth season of the IPL commences next week. It could not be ascertained if Shastri too will be part of the BCCI-hired commentary team or will be laid off with an understanding that he can be hired - like Gavaskar - on a series-by-series basis.
Sources close to Gavaskar failed to comprehend where exactly the legendary former India opener failed to toe the board's line. In fact, on multiple occasions, Gavaskar and Shastri have only supported the board's line of thought, including debates on the Decision Review System or obnoxiously turning pitches when playing at home. In the past, when the DRS was debated on air, Gavaskar and Shastri had supported the BCCI's stand which led to the now famous argument between Shastri and former England captain Nasser Hussain. Even when it came to talking about the nature of pitches on offer, the BCCI hired commentators had blamed poor batting on part of the South Africans but not the much-talked-about surface that had taken the toll.