Home / Politics / Policy /  BCCI unanimously elects Anurag Thakur as president

New Delhi: The governing body of cricket in India, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), on Sunday unanimously elected Anurag Thakur as its president. After taking over the world’s richest cricket board, the 41-year-old said making India the top team in all formats of the game will be his priority.

“Currently, our team is No.2 in tests and T20 and No.4 in ODIs (one-day internationals) and in women’s cricket," Thakur told reporters. “We will take every step whatever is possible to make India No.1 in all four."

The top BCCI job, often called the most powerful position in cricket because of India’s financial muscle in the sport, has been vacant after Nagpur-based lawyer Shashank Manohar resigned this month to take over as chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

BCCI elected one of its youngest-ever presidents in a meeting in Mumbai, where the parliamentarian representing India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was the lone candidate for the post.

At 41, Thakur will be the BCCI’s second youngest president. The youngest was Fatehsinghrao Gaekwad. He was 33 when he took over in 1963. Thakur is also president of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA), a post he has held since 2000 when he took over at the age of 25.

Before his elevation as president, Thakur has served BCCI as its secretary since March 2015 when he defeated Sanjay Patel by a single vote. Prior to that, Thakur was BCCI’s joint secretary for three years.

Thakur, the son of former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, is a three-time member of the Lok Sabha from Hamirpur. Thakur also leads the party’s youth wing—Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha.

He was elected with the support of the East Zone that was supposed to nominate a candidate for the top job.

All six associations—Cricket Association of Bengal, Assam Cricket Association, Jharkhand State Cricket Association, Odisha Cricket Association, Tripura Cricket Association and the National Cricket Club—supported Thakur’s candidature.

He will stay in charge till 2017.

Thakur, on Sunday, said the board will advertise for the post of coach and shortlist applicants after 10 June. Since this year’s World Twenty20 on home soil, the Indian team has been without a coach.

Often led by seasoned administrators, BCCI is perceived to be an efficient but opaque body run by industrialists and politicians. Thakur said he is lucky to have learnt from three BCCI chiefs—Jagmohan Dalmiya, Narayanswami Srinivasan and Manohar—who also headed ICC.

He takes charge at a time when the board is under pressure from India’s top court to bring about change. Next month. the Supreme Court is due to pronounce its verdict on the implementation of the Lodha Committee’s recommendations. BCCI, while accepting some of the suggestions made by the apex court-appointed panel, has objected to several others which question the very structure of the board, including the “one state, one vote" plan.

“We have introduced many reforms in the last 15 months... We will further strengthen it," Thakur said. “Transparency, accountability and professionalism will be part of BCCI’s working. Nobody is perfect. Wherever there are issues, we’d try and rectify. As the custodian of the country’s most popular sport, we’re aware of our responsibilities and we’ll fulfil out duties."

BCCI has earmarked 100 crore ($14.84 million) for a “green initiative" for new and existing stadiums, Thakur said.

Thakur’s elevation as BCCI president is not surprising, given that in 2017 (when the current term ends), the north zone will get its turn to nominate a candidate for the post. In that case, Thakur will have been a clear front-runner.

Maharashtra Cricket Association president Ajay Shirke will replace Thakur as BCCI secretary, having been nominated by the newly-elected president to the post. Shirke served as BCCI treasurer in 2011-13, before stepping down in protest after the 2013 IPL betting and spot-fixing controversy. Last year, Shirke became a member of the IPL governing council.

Reuters contributed to this story.

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