Proof of cricketers making a difference as administrators can be seen in Mumbai. Last year was dismal --- the team was lucky to make the Ranji Trophy knockouts. Enter former India skipper and chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar as the association vice-president and some smart appointments followed. The team is back to its dominating ways.
Though they didn’t have earlier results to show, Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath did a great job in setting up cricket facilities in Karnataka as state unit president and secretary.
One of the recommendations the Justice RM Lodha Committee report, set to be out on January 4, is expected to give is to involve cricketers in core management. While it appears a step in the right direction, the path is not easy.
Many cricketers have tried their hand at administration, but few have managed to establish themselves. Most end up playing second fiddle to an influential politician or businessman holding the top post. Vengsarkar did contest the MCA president’s post, but lost.
Among the big names, currently only Sourav Ganguly holds a top post, as Cricket Association of Bengal president. Kumble and Srinath did at the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA), but soon found how difficult it was to sustain their influence, losing in the next elections.
One reason players shy away from administration is the fear of losing an election. That is unlikely to change even if the Lodha panel recommends that experts should do the expert’s job. “They can’t just parachute into administration, they will have to come up through the system,” said an expert in Indian cricket administration matters. “Administration is about being at the service of all stakeholders; it’s difficult to adjust for the top cricketers as they need to give time even to ordinary members.”
In the current set-up, those best suited to administration with cricket background were average players. Brijesh Patel, the KSCA president, is a successful administrator but had a mediocre India career. Saurashtra Cricket Association secretary Niranjan Shah was a first-class cricketer who became BCCI secretary. Punjab’s MP Pandove played 75 first-class games before his successful innings at the BCCI and Punjab unit. BCCI secretary and Himachal unit chief, Anurag Thakur, and Orissa’s Ranjib Biswal too had modest playing careers.