New Delhi – India's Supreme Court recommended Thursday that batting legend Sunil Gavaskar step in as head of the country's cricket board and banned two teams from this year's IPL over their role in a betting scandal.
After warning the incumbent N. Srinivasan that they could order him to quit, a panel of judges proposed 64-year-old Gavaskar take over on an interim basis as president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
“In the place of Srinivasan, we propose to appoint an experienced cricket player like Sunil Gavaskar to replace him and function as BCCI president,” Justice A.K. Patnaik said at a hearing in New Delhi.
The two-man panel also said the Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals Ä the two teams at the centre of an ongoing probe into illegal betting and match-fixing Ä should be barred from the next edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) beginning next month.
The IPL, a Twenty20 tournament that draws some of the biggest names in world cricket, has been embroiled in a number of scandals since it began less than a decade ago.
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 Ä 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. Srinivasan is managing director of this firm. The team is captained by India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
“We are not removing anyone now, but Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals will not be allowed to participate in the IPL which commences on April 16,” added Patnaik, who is head of the two-judge panel.
Such a ban would have a devastating impact on the eight-team IPL which is due to resume next month in the United Arab Emirates. The start of this year's tournament has been relocated as India is holding a general election.
On Tuesday, the court had urged Srinivasan to stand down as president of the board to enable a “fair” investigation into the allegations.
He has so far not reacted to either the call to resign nor Thursday's recommendation from the court about Gavaskar replacing him.
The 64-year-old Gavaskar, the first player ever to score 10 000 runs in Test match cricket, is now a television commentator and is a former head of the ICC's cricket committee. He is also a strident newspaper columnist and has been at the forefront of recent calls for coach Duncan Fletcher's sacking.
The report commissioned by the court, which ws released in February, suggested Meiyappan may have passed on team information to outsiders for illegal betting, but did not specify what information or to whom.
Srinivasan is regarded as the most powerful man in world cricket and is due to take over in July as head of the International Cricket Council.
India is the most powerful country in world cricket due to its vast television audience, which enables the board to generate almost 70 percent of the game's revenues.
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