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BCCI threatens to cancel New Zealand tour over Lodha panel directives

BCCI threatens to cancel New Zealand tour over Lodha panel directives

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Tuesday reacted dramatically to the Justice R.M. Lodha Committee's direction to banks to freeze its accounts, threatening to call off the remaining matches of New Zealand's ongoing tour of India.

BCCI President Anurag Thakur has asserted that it may not be possible to hold the rest of the matches in the series, including one Test and five one-day matches as he is unable to withdraw any money since the banks have frozen their accounts completely.

"The only way the third Test in Indore can proceed is if the players and state association agree to participate without taking any fees, since the BCCI is not in a position to do financial transactions at all.

"It is shameful for Team India, who have recently claimed the top spot in the ICC Test rankings, and number two in the world Twenty20 rankings, to face this sort of financial restraint in front of the whole world. It is shameful that the board is being questioned for raising players' salaries despite their impressive performances earning them top spot in the ICC Test rankings," Thakur told the media.

"The BCCI has done a lot for Indian cricket over the years including successfully organising the Indian Premier League (IPL). I want to ask that has the BCCI not done anything for Indian cricket in order to bring it to the stage where it is now?" he added.

"Cricket cannot run without money. We don't take money from the government. We are not allowed to make payments. I can't say anything about the India-New Zealand series. We leave it to the respective state associations whether they can host the New Zealand matches, whether they are ready to organise the matches without any money."

Thakur also stated that the Indian team may have to pull out of the Champions Trophy to be held in England next year if the recommendations by the Lodha panel are fully implemented.

According to the recommendations by the Lodha Committee, there has to be a 15-day window before and after the IPL. The Champions Trophy is scheduled from June 1-18 next year while the IPL is likely to end in the last week of May.

"I don't know whether India will be able to play Champions Trophy or not. If you go by the Lodha Committee report you have to play either the IPL or the Champions Trophy. So BCCI has to take a call on that.

"There is the Australia series before the IPL and Champions Trophy after it. So the BCCI has to take a call whether they will play IPL or Champions Trophy," Thakur said.

"We have let the International Cricket Council (ICC) know about India's position. Rest is up to ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar."

Justice Lodha however, criticised the BCCI's stand, asserting that the panel has directed that enough funds should be available to conduct the daily administrative activities of the board and there is no question of discontinuing with the New Zealand series.

"I think that is not a fair reading by the BCCI. What we have directed is that the large amount of funds which is being disbursed to the state associations as per the BCCI meeting of September 30 must be put on hold. The BCCI has been directed to do that and we have given instructions to that effect only.

"We have not given any directions to the banks to freeze the BCCI's accounts. The BCCI is free to deal with the accounts on routine matters including every issue related to the Indian team and its daily administrative matters," Justice Lodha told a news channel.

"Our email was unequivocal and clear. I clarify that there is no constraint on the BCCI to deal with the bank accounts for the Indian team and routine administrative matters. The ongoing international calendar and international series and all other cricketing matters are routine matters for the board. They can deal with the bank accounts regarding these issues. This has been clarified to the banks also," he added.

"There is no question of calling off the New Zealand tour."

The Lodha panel was unhappy with the BCCI for missing the first deadline for implementing its recommendations. In its special general meeting (SGM) last week, the BCCI had agreed to adopt some of the recommendations, but the board is trying to avoid some of the key reforms, including removal of the entire top brass of the country's apex cricket body.

The BCCI's SGM also decided to release huge amounts as payments to its member associations, against the directions of the Lodha panel.

As a result, the Lodha panel issued a letter to the banks on Monday, urging them to not give BCCI access to funds. The letter, which was addressed to BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke, CEO Rahul Johri, treasurer Anirudh Choudhary and Rana Kapoor of Yes Bank, also talked about how the BCCI has openly breached the Supreme Court's order.

"It has come to the notice of this Committee that certain decisions have been taken at the 'Emergent Working Committee' meeting of the BCCI on 30th September 2016 to disburse large funds to the various member associations."

"As the status report is to be taken up for directions by the Hon'ble Court on Thursday, 6.10.2016, you are hereby directed not to take any steps towards financial disbursement of the amounts as resolved/approved after the direction dated 31.8.2016. Any violation of this direction will be placed before the Hon'ble Supreme Court for appropriate directions," the letter stated.

"You are aware that by way of this Committee's direction dated 31.8.2016, no further decisions were to be taken regarding the future apart from routine matters. The disbursement of these amounts are not routine, and in any case, not emergent," the letter added.

"You are also aware that the BCCI has chosen to breach the judgement of the Supreme Court as well as the first set of timelines set out by this Committee which includes the Fund Disbursement policy to be framed by September 30."

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