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Anti-corruption troubleshooter to oversee Indian cricket board

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India’s Supreme Court appointed a top anti-corruption troubleshooter on Monday as head of a team to oversee the running of the powerful cricket board after sacking its top officials for failing to implement reforms.

Former government auditor Vinod Rai, who exposed major corruption scandals under the previous government, will head the new committee of administrators to run the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

He will be joined by the prominent historian Ramachandra Guha, banker Vikram Limaye and former Indian women’s cricket captain Diana Edulji.

It was not immediately clear how long the four would be in place or their exact titles.

“I think it’s a huge, huge responsibility put on my shoulders and being the only cricketer — male or female — I think I have to really put my head into it and think about its future,” Edulji told the CNN News18 network.

The appointments follow a court order to sack BCCI president Anurag Thakur and his deputy from their positions on January 2 over their failure to implement reforms recommended by a panel headed by former judge Rajendra Mal Lodha.

The court then asked two lawyers, known as amicus curiae (friends of the court), to suggest nine names to run the board after ruling that government employees, ministers and anyone aged over 70 cannot be part of the organisation.

The judges however later trimmed the proposed new team from nine to four and rejected a suggestion from a government lawyer that a top official from the federal sports ministry be included in the line-up.

– ‘People of integrity’ –

Former India skipper Bishan Singh Bedi said he hoped the new team would improve the functioning of the board, which would benefit the game as a whole.

“I have not the slightest doubt in my mind that they are the right people for the job. All four of them are people of integrity,” Bedi, who has been one of the board’s most outspoken critics, told AFP.

Rai, who was the Comptroller and Auditor General of India between 2008-2013, is hailed for bringing accountability in the functioning of government after exposing scams in the allocation of coal mines and 2G mobile spectrum bidding by the previous centre-left government.

Rai’s expose became one of the focal points of the election campaign by the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014, which ended with its leader Narendra Modi taking power with a huge majority.

Rai has faced criticism in some quarters that he was too close to the BJP and worked for its benefit during his stint as India’s top auditor.

Cricket’s massive popularity in India has helped the BCCI become by far the wealthiest of all of the sport’s national boards.

Charges of corruption and nepotism have dented the image of the board in recent years, leading many activists to urge the court to intervene to reform the privately-run organisation.

The board has been embroiled in a series of scandals, including accusations of corruption in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and a betting scandal involving an IPL team linked to its former head Narayanaswami Srinivasan.


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