The BCCI old guards have been made ineligible to be part of the new constitution, but there is a perception that they are very much in control of the system through their family members

Over the last month, Rupa Gurunath, the daughter of former BCCI president N Srinivasan, has taken over as the president of Tamil Nadu Cricket Association. Jaydev Shah, the son of Niranjan Shah, has taken over as Saurashtra Cricket Association president, while ex BCCI president Anurag Thakur’s brother Arun has become Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association president

In an interview with CNN-News18, Thakur stressed that all the processes were followed in each of the appointments.

 Here is the full transcript of the interview:

 Sourav Ganguly has thanked you personally for his becoming BCCI president, what role did you play?

See, I think it is in the interest of BCCI and the Indian Cricket that Sourav is leading the Indian Cricket now in a new role. He has led the Indian team as a captain and now he has the responsibility to take the Indian cricket team to the next level. I think as an administrator, he has done well. As far as the Bengal Cricket Association is concerned, he has a young team with other office bearers taking the charge and I am sure, he is going to do well. The vacuum in the last more than 3 years, we have seen the Indian Cricket some down globally which used to lead from the front, today has to fight back to be in that leader’s role.

As a former president of BCCI, do you think Ganguly can achieve much in just 10 months? 

I think you have to look at the entire set of reforms and look at the 3 years which have been, I won’t say lost, but consumed in implementing those reforms. What we have achieved, what we have lost, I leave it to the media to analyse that but I have seen in the Parl also, the media personnel used to meet when the Lokpal Bill came; you want Lokpal, Jan Lokpal. I used to ask them what the difference between two is. They used to say we don’t know. I think you should put one of your sports editor on the job as to what was the earlier constitution and where it stands today and why it took more than 3 years to implement that reform

BCCI is in turmoil for a while and Sourav Ganguly is taking over at a very difficult time…what do you think is the biggest challenge before Ganguly? 

I think there is a huge opportunity lying in front of Sourav. If you remember, 3 years back, when we left it, what we tried before that. We started the A Tours to give more exposure to the upcoming cricketers, India U-19 tours; women cricketers had more matches, more remunerations. By giving those facilities, those kind of matches and tours, we have created a strength for Indian Team. Today if any player is unfit, you have a player ready, opener; middle order batsman; spinner or the fast bowler is concerned. That is what is helping Indian Cricket. The foundation laid by the former administrators in the last 20-30 years has helped Indian Cricket to reach this level. Globally, the people look at BCCI, how it governed the Indian cricket in India. However, unfortunately, some people still wanted reform. Fair enough, reforms are good for any organisation, but I feel we need to analyse what happened in the last 3 years. Why didn’t ICC pay BCCI for the matches they played for the International Tournaments? Why the State Associations were not paid in the last 3 years for serving state association? I think there has to be detailed report on this too but that may take time. Many people will do that. I think that institution is more important to the country than individuals are. This institution is the BCCI.

You talk about 20-30 years…I am looking at these 33 months…The Committee of Administrators – CoA had a chairman in Vinod Rai. Do you think they made any significant contributions to Indian Cricket Administration?

I leave it to you to analyse. Post 2015 until 2019, it is up to the sports journalists to analyse. I am nobody to comment on anything. What they wanted the BCCI officials to implement in 3 months, it took the committee 3 years to implement them, not in the same way it has been recommended

Don’t you think all the old hands are back through their siblings or family members – Rupa Gurunath who is N Srinivasan’s daughter, Niranjan shah’s son, your own brother….all of them are back.

Why can’t you see Sourav taking over? Why can’t you see Brajesh Patel being the IPL Chairman? Why can’t you see Mohd Azzharuddin being the Hyderabad Cricket Association Chairman? Why can’t you see other office bearers who did not make it to the team even, there are a new state of administrators in the state also? But that is a democratic process where the voters vote. It is not me and you who decide on a TV channel as to who will be picked up and after all, this happened after all the reforms took place

But don’t you think all those talks of reforms were a sham?

I said I have nothing to say. You and your viewers have to analyse what we have achieved in the last 3-4 years

Tell me Mr Thakur, there are talks that Ganguly’s appointment is driven by politics with BJP keeping one eye on Bengal elections in 2021

There are too many stories in the media on too many people. I am not here to comment on anything. Sourav was Indian cricket captain and Sourav is the president of Cricket Association of Bengal. I think if you question people like Ganguly also, then what are you looking at. You are questioning all those people who are democratically elected. Our former cricketers, not even Sourav, but earlier also, there was Dilip Vengsarkar, Shivlal Yadav, Brajesh Patel, myself and many others who played first class cricket. They have been elected via a democratic process, I have been coming through the system into BCCI, that happened in past, and that is happening today as well. Anyone can come in and contest. Most of the players are raising an issue of conflict of interest, if anyone wants to contribute to the game of cricket, he is being elected as Secretary and he cannot do anything else. So, if can’t do commentary and he can’t comment on games on TV, he cannot run academy. Then what do they intend to do? Everyone is asking this question.

Do you think there is need to revisit this clause of conflict of interest?

I am not saying a line on whether you need to change or not. Let people come forward and say what they have achieved and what they have lost. If people like Dravid, Kapil Dev and others, they cannot be part of it and they have a conflict of interest, then, who will come forward and serve the Indian cricket. If you ask all the former cricketers to leave their current positions, as commentators, as experts or anything else as coach. They will not because they are going to lose 10-20 crore annually to be a member of a state association or office bearer. Now, it is up to them to choose whether they want to.

The BCCI has always been a divided house. How long do you see this bonhomie lasting?

As long as possible because our goal is to get back our position in the ICC. Our position has been reduced to the level of Zimbabwe and other boards. India used to lead and India contributed 70-75% of revenues of ICC and ICC do not pay back to the Indian board, Indian board cannot take it easily. Indian board has to decide. I personally feel we should pay our U-16 players and junior teams and first class cricketers much more money today rather than spending much more on creamy layer. The time has come when we should pay more to junior players, spend more on infra and facilities which we did in the past

Are you still personally interested in cricket administration?

They invited me to today’s meeting. I did not go because I personally feel that the new team that has been elected has the capacity and calibre to deliver and take it to the next level. I convey my best wishes to Sourav and his team to do well and I am sure that India is going to regain its position in the ICC, which is very important for India because India has lost a lot in the last 3.5 years. We cannot imagine. You should get the figures as to how much money is pending from the ICC to India and how they have been trying, which you may get in the coming times, which I do not want to reveal anything today. I am no more associated with the BCCI. Let the BCCI say something about it. I am a well-wisher of the team and I just want to say that time has come for India to regain the number one position that they had as far as the cricket association is concerned

Source: CNN-News18

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Jayita Sardar
Author

Aspiring journalist working for sportzbusiness.com and exploring the juncture of sports, business and technology. Interested in sports economy and logistics of sports policy-making.

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