New Delhi – India's Supreme Court was expected to issue an order for beleaguered cricket board chief N. Srinivasan to quit, after proposing his replacement by batting legend Sunil Gavaskar over a betting scandal.
A two-judge panel has warned the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that it will issue an order for Srinivasan's dismissal on Friday after describing his refusal to quit so far as “nauseating”.
At a dramatic hearing in New Delhi on Thursday, a panel of judges also called for the banning of two teams from this year's Indian Premier League (IPL), in a potentially devastating blow to a tournament which begins next month.
The judges also proposed that Gavaskar take over on an interim basis as president, a post the 64-year-old said he was willing to take on.
“As an opening batsman, you must be ready for all kinds of challenges,” said Gavaskar, the first player to score 10,000 runs in Test match cricket and who is now a TV commentator.
“I will do everything to the best of my abilities. If the highest court is reposing this faith in me, I'll be very happy to do what they ask me to do,” he told NDTV.
Srinivasan's counsel told the court his client was willing to “step aside” while an investigation into allegations of illegal betting and spot-fixing continue.
But the judges have not been swayed by the proposal, aware that Srinivasan also stood aside last year before resuming his duties and then winning re-election.
The panel is looking at a damning report it commissioned into wrongdoing in last year's tournament when former Test bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth was caught deliberately bowling badly while playing for the Rajasthan Royals in return for thousands of dollars from bookmakers.
Released in February, the report also concluded that Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan – who was the team principal of the Chennai Super Kings Ä could be guilty of illegal betting on IPL games.
The Super Kings are owned by India Cements, whose managing director is Srinivasan. The team are captained by India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
In the light of the allegations involving the two teams, the judges said they should not be allowed to take part in this year's tournament.
Such a ban would represent a massive blow to the eight-team IPL, which begins next month in the United Arab Emirates. The start of this year's tournament has been relocated as India is holding a general election.
Srinivasan had been regarded as the most powerful man in world cricket and is still due to take over in July as head of the International Cricket Council.
With its massive TV audiences, India generates almost 70 percent of the game's revenues and several of the smaller Test nations are heavily dependent on its largesse.
International news organisations, including Agence France-Presse (AFP), have suspended their on-field coverage of matches hosted by the BCCI since 2012 after the board imposed restrictions on picture agencies. – Sapa-AFP