New Delhi: The BCCI on Saturday rejected suggestions that former India captains Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri had a conflict of interest while discharging their role as TV commentators merely because they have signed a contract of Rs 3.6 crores each annually with the Board.
The two former cricketers found themselves in the midst of a raging controversy surrounding their role as TV commentators in the current India-England series, which is seen to be in conflict with their contracts with the Board.
"There is no conflict of interest. BCCI does not dictate them on what they should speak. They are independent commentators and what they speak is purely their opinion," BCCI Vice-President Rajiv Shukla said.
"BCCI pays them for their professional qualities. They are outstanding commentators and respected at the international level. What they have achieved is because of their personal talent," Shukla said.
Shukla described suggestions that there was conflict of interest as "trivial and frivolous" and said it was not fair to draw such a conclusion.
"These are trivial and frivolous allegations. It is not fair to suggest that there is a conflict of interest because BCCI never dictates on what they should say," he said.
Earlier, BCCI Secretary N Srivisan refused to react on the media reports.
"The Board never reacts to these kind of stories. I don`t feel I have to comment on this issue. People can write anything," Srinivasan said.
Gavaskar and Shastri, who are commentators on ESPN-Star TV channel, have been accused in some media reports of toeing the BCCI line on a number of issues, including the reasons for the poor performance of the Indian cricket team and Decision Review System (DRS), given the fact that they are paid by the BCCI.
The report said that Gavaskar and Shastri have been signed up directly by the BCCI with the lucrative deal to be renewed annually. The contract allows the Board to provide their services to even broadcasters who cannot refuse to employ them or deny them their daily fee.
The contract, the reports pointed out, prevented the duo from freely airing their views against the Board or the IPL while discussing the team`s plight in England.
Gavaskar has defended his position in media interviews, saying that he should be judged on the basis of the work he does rather than whether there was any conflict of interest in his contract with the BCCI.
"There is a conflict of interest in everything in life... I would advise to all who are saying there is a conflict of interest in my situation to actually see my work, listen to what I say and then judge me," Gavaskar is quoted as saying in the media.
"In my columns, I speak strongly against BCCI policies. I am not beholden to the BCCI. At the end of the day, it is how you deal with it, that matters. I have dealt with it with absolute honesty without compromising my views on anything," Gavaskar said.
Shastri also did not see that there was a conflict of interest or as something that hampered him from freely airing his views.
"In fact, it helps me because now I get to see both sides of the coin before saying something. It`s left for the viewers to judge whether I am biased or shackled and the viewer is no fool," he said.