N. Srinivasan took over as president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) less than a month ago amid a series of complex situations. India lost all their matches in England recently, the BCCI continues to disagree with the International Cricket Council (ICC) on various issues, and the conflict of interest allegations consistently dog the owner of Indian Premier League (IPL) team Chennai Super Kings (CSK). The board president spoke on these subjects and on why there is no reason to worry about Indian cricket’s future. Edited excerpts from the interview:
As the new BCCI president, what are your most pressing challenges?
We will continue in the same direction that the BCCI has taken in the last few years with emphasis on improving infrastructure for cricket and improving the structure for the development of the game, which we have already done.
In the hot seat: N. Srinivasan. By Resha Gandhi/Hindustan Times
We have set up zonal academies and specialist academies. All state associations have been encouraged to have their own academies so that talent has an opportunity to be developed. Apart from this, the BCCI is placed with challenges arising out of the Lalit Modi matter. The BCCI has sufficient checks and balances and has operated in a fair and transparent fashion.
Has the BCCI got its way with the ICC regarding the Decision Review System issue?
The BCCI is not against technology. Our view was that the ball tracking was not good enough. We were told that the Hot Spot was good, but our recent experience has proved otherwise. So unless we have a foolproof system with the technology being foolproof, I don’t see the need to use it. I would rather go by the umpires whom we have relied on all these years. Using technology which is not accurate all the time is unfair.
We have always said the system must satisfy us enough to be put into use.
At the meeting we were fortunately able to convince the other members. So it has gone back to the earlier stance of leaving it to the countries involved in case of a bilateral series (like the one against England coming up).
The matter of conflict of interest is sub-judice, but doesn’t it bother you when people accuse you of that?
I do not consider there is a conflict at all. I am in the corporate sector and we declare our interests. The fact that I am head of a firm that owns a public company—with a huge share holder base—which owns the Chennai Super Kings is public knowledge. It is a public company. No separate rules have been made. No separate policy has been taken for the CSK. What applies to all teams, applies to the Super Kings. Secondly, there are eminent people in the IPL governing council and the board. So when this question is posed to me, you are discounting all of them and their independence, which is not fair.
Going by the England tour and the impending retirements of many players, would you say the coming months will be a testing period for Indian cricket?
I won’t quite call it a testing time. For a variety of reasons, we did not do well in England. The foremost among them being we never had the full strength team from the beginning, we missed some key players and we had some bad luck also. We should not forget that we played well. As regards to impending retirements, all strong teams in the past have gone through periods when there has been a transition. The history of cricket is rife with such instances. Those are natural challenges we have to face and we have a good bench strength for it. We have a number of people who have not been able to get into the team. So one should look at this—as and when there is a change—as an opportunity for others to prove their mettle.
There are concerns over the injury management of players and their fitness. Is the player alone to be blamed because at times, the player may still want to play even though he may be carrying a niggle?
In all teams, there are players who carry some injury or niggle. There is a support staff which can gauge the fitness of the player and tell us whether a player is match-fit. The player gets on to the field when he and the team management together feel he is match-fit. So there is no question of blaming the player alone.
What is your view on excessive cricket?
T20 has come to stay. There are today three forms of cricket and all three are here to stay. So I don’t agree with this issue of excessive cricket. Few Indian players play all three versions. When we take (into account) the total amount of cricket played, we do so in comparison with other countries and we take all versions. Our players don’t play all versions consistently. So I don’t see the arguments succeeding.
What is your opinion of Sachin Tendulkar’s idea of tweaking the One Day International format?
I am open to this. In fact, Sachin met me and made this suggestion. I will pass it on to the technical committee to get the reviews. It’s a suggestion made by one of our greatest cricketers, so it deserves every consideration and I will definitely recommend this (though the ICC has already discarded it). We will await their opinion.
Rupha Ramani is a senior sports correspondent, CNN-IBN.
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