The new Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) president Lalit Modi is no stranger to controversy and is bracing for a legal fight with the Board of Control for Cricket In India (BCCI).
On May 6, the BCCI suspended the RCA within hours of Modi being elected president. Former Indian Premier League (IPL) chairperson Modi has declared the RCA will take legal recourse. In an email interview to HT, Modi outlines his plans for revamping the RCA, talks about the declining public interest in IPL and his battle with the BCCI.
Since you are currently based in London, how will you manage the affairs of the RCA?
I have always believed in having strong systems and processes in place, as I feel those are the cores of any successful enterprise. It is critical that my team and I understand the shortcomings, of what went wrong at the RCA, and set about building an institution that will not fall apart irrespective of who runs it.
I firmly believe we will need to set up a dynamic system and follow it to the core, to ensure that the RCA is restored back to its former glory. Additionally, thanks to the evolution of technology, one need not be in a place to manage something. Thanks to wonders of video links, Skype and FaceTime, anyone anywhere is just a quick call away today.
That I contested the RCA elections without being present, at the behest of the people within the RCA, and received a thumping majority of 24 votes against 5 speaks volumes of the change that everyone wants to see. I am positive that the same people will back me all the way in my bid to ensure we get Rajasthan cricket back on track.
What are your immediate and long-term plans for the RCA?
I am extremely pleased by the order of the Supreme Court and it has helped repose my faith and belief in the Indian judiciary. I was always confident of this victory given the pitiable state of affairs at the RCA and the fact that office-bearers of the RCA themselves had requested me to contest the elections.
Now, the immediate agenda is to get Rajasthan cricket back on track. We have to ensure that our facilities are once again upgraded to the world-class standards that they once were and also see that our players get access to the best coaching staff and facilities.
It is critical that some key decisions with regards to our team selection etc., that were kept in abeyance be taken immediately for the greater good of Rajasthan cricket.
I intend to ensure that the RCA emerges a centre for global cricketing excellence for other associations and clubs to emulate the world over.
Thus, my priority would be to bring the RCA back to its former glory. To do that I know we will need to work really hard to rectify the house within… Once we set our house in order, we will then have to make time for matters of the BCCI that beg for our attention, so they too better watch out.
The IPL was very popular when you started it. What do you think is the reason for dipping interest in the game now?
Looking at the goings-on in Indian cricket — there is a betting scandal, there are allegations of probable match fixing and then there are the sordid deeds of our friends in the BCCI… all of which are coming to haunt the fair image of the game of cricket in India.
I have always believed there can only be one policy for anything that is detrimental to the interest of the game: there have to be severe consequences for breaking the rules.
No one and nobody is bigger than the game. Hence, I have always firmly believed in a zero tolerance policy when it comes to fixing and/or betting.
Little wonder then that the fans and the public at large are slowly but surely beginning to lose faith in the Indian Premier League and the game.
One of the biggest and most important tasks ahead of the BCCI now would be to win back the faith of the fans by returning dignity and honour to the sport. Thus, the time to take action on anyone and/or any team found guilty of wrongdoing is now! The only way out is to have a complete overhaul and I am positive the Supreme Court will help in this respect.
Do you think naming Sunil Gavaskar as in-charge of IPL has helped?
I have always had the utmost respect for Sunil Manohar Gavaskar. He is one of the greatest cricketers to have played for India. It was his name and credibility as a global cricket ambassador that I had banked on when setting up the IPL. He was one of my first choices for the IPL governing council when I set up the IPL.
I for one certainly welcomed the order of Supreme Court to have Sunil Gavaskar take over as the interim president of the BCCI. It has certainly helped thus far, as we have had a relatively incident-free IPL this season.
But to be brutally honest, way too much damage has been done to game as well as to the credibility of the IPL and the sport in our country. A thorough cleansing is required.
For want of a better word, a purge within the Indian cricket administration would definitely help. Then one will have to go about winning back the trust and love of the fans if the game of cricket is to survive and prosper in the years ahead…
In the interim, Sunil Gavaskar seems to be doing a fair job and I wish him well for the remainder of the season.