On Wednesday, N Srinivasan officiated at his first selection committee meeting as the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) new honorary secretary, a meeting which he found “interesting”.
A low-key man given to understatement, Srinivasan - who became only the second person from Tamil Nadu in 75 years of the Board to get the secretary’s job — is expected to bring the same no-nonsense approach he adopted as the Board’s treasurer to the high-profile post of secretary. HT caught up with him for a chat on Wednesday. Excerpts:
There’s been a lot of talk about the commercialization of cricket, especially in India. Do you think the Board needs to draw a line?
I don’t agree that there is too much commercialisation. It works very simply, depending on how the team does. Ultimately, the value ascribed to a match goes up and also comes down. Naturally, when the Indian team does well, that value goes up. That also happens when the competition is high, there's a close contest, as what happened during the IPL. It brought many new viewers in.
Don’t you think the money would affect youngsters, dilute Test cricket?
Not at all. I think that it’s very clear that you have Tests, ODIs and T20 and there’s place for them all.
This Board administration is perceived to be a tough one. Do you plan to take a harder stand on issues like player discipline etc?
Well, frankly, there are no problems at the moment. There have been issues in the past which have been resolved. As there are no such issues now, it's speculative.
With a minimum of Rs 25cr per state association being made available now, will there be a call for greater accountability from them?
The board distributes money on the basis of Tests and ODIs and staging and non-staging of events, including the IPL. We are encouraging states to spend more on infrastructure etc. The larger amount of money is of recent origin. It’s not as if the Board has been earning this for long. But you see, there are new stadia coming up in Hyderabad, Nagpur, Orissa. We will see the creation of more and more facilities for cricket.
But what of accountability?
You have to spend 85 per cent of income in any case, that is mandatory.
The BCCI is stable at the moment, there's a system in place. What are the challenges ahead of you now?
I wouldn’t say challenges, but opportunities perhaps, to make facilities more user-friendly. We would like to improve facilities, increase the number of academies and take the game to the rural parts of the country in a more complete fashion.
You now have a professional selection committee that is now paid and therefore, completely accountable to the Board. There is a view that the BCCI will therefore, now have a greater hold over the selectors…
This is a professional selection committee, there's just been one meeting. The idea behind this was that the selectors spend so much time for the board, that they should be reimbursed. As the new system has just started, I don't see how anyone can say anything like this at all.
Any plans for the BCCI to go public?
(Laughs) Never heard of it, this is not a corporate entity, we are an organization for the development of the game. That's the way we see ourselves.