IN NOVEMBER 2010, Anil Kumble, a legend of unquestioned personal integrity, retired from active cricket and got into cricket administration with the stated mission of bringing fairness, transparency and probity to the running of the sport. It transpired, however, that while serving as president of Karnataka’s state cricket association—putting him in a position to exercise control over players in the region—Kumble in his private capacity ran a player-management agency, and was thus also able to further the careers of players signed up with his firm.
When Kumble was asked about the conflicting interests inherent in this situation, this was his answer: “I don’t see any conflict of interest here … and I have to look after myself. At this stage of my career, I have to do that. Otherwise, you’d have to become like Gandhi and give up everything.” Implicit—no, explicit—in these words is a casual acceptance of self-interest and an equally casual dismissal of any motive beyond personal benefit.
The response passed without challenge, and so it should have. No statement is independent of context, and the context of Kumble’s words is the world created by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)—ostensibly a not-for-profit organisation, but in real terms a body that has institutionalised, even sanctified, the single-minded pursuit of self-interest at all levels, even when such actions are in direct violation of the body’s own written constitution.