Shashank Manohar, who stepped down as BCCI president on Tuesday, has disagreed with the perception that he quit the role to pursue the post of ICC chairman. In February, the ICC decided to hold elections for the chairman's seat through a secret ballot with one of the conditions being the nominees had to be independent candidates not holding any position in their national boards.
"The whole world knows how powerful the BCCI president's post is in the global context. Why would I quit a post if I had been angling for it [ICC chairmanship]?," Manohar told the Times of India. "I could have continued to be the BCCI president as well as the ICC chairman, and not pushed for a change in the global body to have an independent head."
Manohar has been ICC chairman since October, by virtue of his being the BCCI's nominee for the role after he took over as the Indian board's president. So, the decision to have independent candidates contest for ICC chairman was taken under Mahohar. He was supposed to serve as the ICC chairman till June, but, given he has quit his role in the BCCI, he loses the ICC chairmanship as well now.
Under the radical reforms brought in by the Big Three comprising the BCCI, the ECB and Cricket Australia in 2014, the ICC had created the role of chairman with former BCCI president N Srinivasan taking the inaugural seat. Once the controversy-embroiled Srinivasan was replaced by Manohar at the BCCI, Manohar took over as ICC chairman as well. He had promised big changes and reforms within a two-month time frame in the BCCI when he took over, several of which kicked in on schedule. He also adopted a similar strategy at the ICC, shelving the Big Three's decision to appoint the chairman by rotation from among representatives of the three countries only.
According to the rotational plan, it was Cricket Australia's turn to appoint its representative, who would serve as chairman between 2016-18, followed by a two-year stint by an ECB representative.
According to Manohar, under the previous system the chairman was not serving as an independent official. Manohar said it was also "unethical" for him continue as ICC chairman once he had resigned from the BCCI. "There was a conflict of interest in the ICC which needed to be addressed. For example, if I am the ICC chairman and also the BCCI president, can I be expected to adjudicate fairly, or without bias, on any issue pertaining to Indian cricket?
"As BCCI's nominee, am I not duty-bound to fight for our cause? On the other hand, as ICC chairman, I am expected to protect its interests. That's why I have proposed that the post of the ICC chairman should be made independent and it has been accepted unanimously."
Manohar said he felt no guilt at leaving the BCCI, considering he "delivered on all my promises well within that time frame" of two months of taking over as president. But the timing of Manohar's resignation comes at a critical juncture for the BCCI, which has been locked in a tug of war with the Supreme Court of India, which has come down hard upon the board to implement the radical recommendations proposed by the Lodha Committee.
Incidentally, Manohar did not offer any specific reason for stepping down but vaguely pointed out that he was not comfortable with some of the Lodha Committee's proposed reforms. "After taking over as the BCCI president for the second time I did my best and brought in major changes in the organisation. I feel certain portions of the Lodha panel's recommendations are not in the interests of the board. There is very little I can do in the current scenario. My conscience no longer permits me to continue."
Manohar said that even if his decision to step down came as a surprise to the public, he had kept the BCCI hierarchy in the loop about the move. According to Manohar, he had sent in his resignation letter to BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur four days before the news was made public. "I am not disenchanted with the BCCI, but with the overall scenario," Manohar said. "I shared my thoughts with my colleagues over the past couple of months. I must say there was pressure on me to continue but I have never felt comfortable hanging on to any post without contributing significantly."