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After Storm, BCCI Accounts Unblocked; New Zealand Series On

NDTV logo NDTV 04-10-2016

After reports that the cricket board BCCI was contemplating cancelling the ongoing India-New Zealand series, the Lodha Committee has directed banks to unfreeze the board's accounts.

"Cricket must go on," said retd Chief Justice of India RM Lodha, who heads the committee appointed by the Supreme Court to recommend reforms in the running of the Board.

On Monday, he had directed banks where the Board of Control for Cricket in India or BCCI holds accounts not to disburse funds for financial decisions taken by the board at its Special General Meeting on September 30.

On Tuesday morning, the Lodha committee instructed Yes Bank to unfreeze BCCI's account, and sources said it would write to Bank of Maharashtra too to unblock its account there.

The series with New Zealand has a Test match and five ODIs remaining. The third and final Test starts this Saturday. India are leading the three-match series 2-0.

As its accounts were frozen, sources in the board said it would be forced to call off all domestic and international cricket. "Now we have no other option than to cancel the series. If we don't have money how will we organise matches. Who will pay? We also have a lot at a stake," BCCI sources had told NDTV.

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They also alleged interference by the Lodha Committee. "Lodha Committee is not mandated to interfere in everyday activities. Players need to be paid. If they are happy to play the third Test without being paid, then fine," the sources had said.

While ordering the accounts to be unblocked today, Justice Lodha emphasised that the BCCI was not told to stop payments on routine matters.

"It is clearly stated in the mail that we have told them (the banks) to stop disbursing large funds to state associations. We have not told them to stop payments on routine matters. If anyone says something I can't stop it. We have not ordered them to stop distributing funds on routine matters. Conducting a series is a routine matter," Justice Lodha told NDTV.

New Zealand confirmed it has been told by the BCCI that the series has not been cancelled and the visitors will go ahead with preparations for the third Test.

The storm over the bank accounts is the latest installment of a pitched battle between the board and the Lodha Committee, which has recommended sweeping changes to bring more transparency and accountability in the board's functioning. It was appointed by the Supreme Court in the wake of the IPL spot-fixing and betting scandal.

The Lodha panel had last week sought the removal of the Board's brass, including president Anurag Thakur, in a status report to the Supreme Court complaining that the Board was refusing to implement reforms approved by the court in July.

The court made scathing observations saying that if BCCI "does not fall in line" and follow the court's directive to implement the Lodha Committee's recommendations, it will take measures to enforce them. The next hearing is on Thursday, October 6.

Anurag Thakur said on Monday that India may have to pull out of next year's Champions Trophy in England if the BCCI implements the Justice RM Lodha Committee recommendations in toto.

The Lodha Panel has suggested a 15-day window before and after the IPL. The Champions Trophy is scheduled from June 1-18, 2017, while the IPL is likely to end only in the last week of May.

Watch: No reason to cancel India-NZ series — Justice Lodha

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