Exclusive: BCCI and Indian cricket deserves better administration - N Srinivasan
It is only poetic justice that former Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) president N Srinivasan’s coffee-table book reads Defying the Paradigm. He has fought all odds and despite being barred from functioning as a board administrator by the Supreme Court, many still consider him the go-to-man every time things go out of hand. Talking to Hindustan Times as preparations were on to launch the book which traces his journey from as early as 1968, Srinivasan answered an array of questions.
Q) 50 years of grit, vision and institution building is the slug of your book. How would you personally define the journey of N Srinivasan the former BCCI chief?
A) The book is a story from 1968, but BCCI I joined only around 2004. The passion for cricket was from day one. See my father was a great cricket lover he died when I was very young. But the tradition continued. In those days when there was no money in cricket, we employed cricketers. We encouraged cricketers. The journey has been a long one, but rewarding because of what we have been able to achieve for cricket, cricketers and Indian cricket. And now the TNPL is bringing local players to national limelight and I think that is very very important.
Q) The BCCI was known as the richest board for a while, but under you, it also became the most powerful board. How do you see the current situation?
A) I feel very sad because of what is happening. At a time when BCCI should have marched ahead further on the same lines or direction that we had shown. But it has gone backwards and that is sad. And for what reason? I think everyone knows what happened and why BCCI money was given up and why BCCI lost its position. And to say that when I was there BCCI bullied others, that is wrong. BCCI looked after itself. What is wrong in a representative of a board fighting for his own country? I think it is absurd to criticise that. But having said that, I feel BCCI has tremendous intrinsic strength. It will not collapse. It might have a set-back, but it will bounce back.
Q) Post the SC intervention and you stepping aside, there were talks in certain quarters that Indian cricket would move towards the right direction. Today those very people repeatedly apologise for their mistakes. How do you see the whole turn of events?
A) Throughout my years that I have been involved in administration, I just worked. I was only bothered about what needed to be done. I didn’t look at result or accolade or for publicity. In a public position, sometimes you will get hit or unnecessarily targeted, but that is all par for the course and you have to take it. If you don’t have the stomach for this, don’t get into this.
Q) Critics and friends often said that Indian cricket needed you at the helm for BCCI to hold its own against the domination from the English and Australians or for that matter the ICC. Do you think the board’s interest is getting compromised now?
A) The CoA members were appointed by the SC, so I am restrained to some extent to comment on it. But what I can say is that Indian cricket deserves better. Fortunately, the talent available in India is so good that despite all this, Indian cricket team is doing well. Also, if you look at the past, voluntarily people came from associations to work for the BCCI. There was a great sense of fairness which is why you see the extent to which Indian cricket has prospered. Many cricketers have come from small town also and I feel proud that for example at the discovery of an MS Dhoni. Today, the satisfaction is in watching the performance of these players. And this performance is despite all these confusions.
Q) Questions were raised against your style of functioning, yet, never under you did we see a scenario like Anil Kumble-Virat Kohli or Mithali Raj-Ramesh Powar. What do you think is the reason for such a poor scenario within the board today?
A) We were fair, but also disciplined and I think that combination is necessary. The self restraint is very important. Indian cricket in the last few years has had problems, but I hope the clouds will lift and things will be normal again.
Q) Many said that the 70-year limit was brought in to keep one man from the south away from the BCCI. Yet, we see a man who is over 70 and holding the position of CoA chief. Where is the fairness of process? India’s top 3 former cricketers (Cricket Advisory Committee) are not willing to work in tandem with the board. Never was this heard of before. Where are we headed?
A) Haha! I don’t know how to responded except for saying that I am unable to understand it. First and foremost, personally, well this is an area I don’t wish to comment upon excepting for that many of us are extremely fit and don’t think of our age.
Q) How do you see the introduction of former cricketers like Sourav Ganguly into the functioning of the board? Can there be a scenario in future where he is given the required support by you for the betterment of BCCI and Indian cricket?
A) Administration requires a different skillset. So if a cricketer develops it or has it, excellent. I mean there is no ban or bar on any section. Ultimately we must understand that all these associations are democratic so whoever the members feel has the capacity will get elected and I welcome that.
Q) This year, professionals were brought in, office-bearers were stripped off their powers. And the end result is a domestic season wherein matches are postponed due to lack of umpires. IPL will be held without a chairman. Did you ever imagine that one of the most well-run organizations in the world will head to such a state of ridicule?
A) It is very very sad to watch all this. It is not easy to administer the BCCI which is apparent now.
Q) Today, you are clearly away from the limelight and board administration. But, can we hope for a return of the man who is still considered one of the world’s best administrators?
A) Hahaha! I don’t know what the future holds. We don’t have a crystal ball. But I have this immense faith that BCCI will regain its position again.