Funds released: India, England Test threat lifted

NEW DELHI: India’s cash-rich cricket board on Tuesday lifted a threat to cancel the start of its Test series against England after judges eased banking restrictions which had triggered a funding crisis.
Less than 24 hours before the high-profile series was due to begin in Rajkot, Indian board dropped a bombshell by telling the Supreme Court it would not be able to cover the running costs of the first match.
The Indian Supreme Court last month ruled that the board would have to seek prior approval from a special panel investigating its governance in order to release funds to state associations which host Test matches.
But in a petition filed to the apex court on the eve of the start of the first Test in Rajkot, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said the order meant it was impossible to cover the match’s running costs.
“Unless money is disbursed to the board, the match between India and England can’t take place,” said the petition, which is due to be heard later in the day.
After considering the petition for several hours, the court set aside its previous order and gave the board immediate access to the $90,000 (5.8 million Indian rupees), the BCCI said it needed to host the match in Rajkot. It further allowed the board to incur expenses for hosting the remaining four Tests in the series against England but asked it to maintain accounts for scrutiny by the panel.
“We are fine with the supreme court order because we wanted money for organising the India-England test series and that has been allowed,” said a lawyer representing the board.
The court had slapped the restrictions on the BCCI’s accounts after the board failed to implement a series of reforms that had been recommended by a panel headed by a former top judge, Rajendra Mal Lodha.
The Lodha panel has accused BCCI officials of “behaving like lords”, after they repeatedly ignored the deadlines to implement reforms of what is world cricket’s wealthiest and most powerful board.
In its submission challenging Tuesday’s petition, the panel said that the BCCI was in contempt of court by not implementing its recommendations which include age limits for office-holders.
The BCCI had earlier complained that the funding freeze was hampering organisation for a series last month against New Zealand, but the three Tests went ahead as scheduled in the end.
The BCCI has insisted it is not “running away” from implementing the reforms after scandals including accusations of corruption and match-fixing that tarnished the Indian Premier League (IPL), a glitzy Twenty20 tournament run by the board. India and England are due to play five Test matches in November and December as well as a limited over series early in the new year.
Both teams are already in Rajkot and have been already been holding nets ahead of the start of the series. The respective captains Virat Kohli and Alastair Cook are expected to hold press conferences later Tuesday. AFP