'My real worry is the functioning of the board'
It was more like being granted an audience than being granted an interview. Sharad Pawar had just taken over as president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, and yet it was more like meeting the federal agriculture minister. Dressed in a crisply-starched whiter-than-white cotton shirt and white trousers that looked like they'd never been worn before, Pawar rarely, if ever, looked at any of the four journalists who sat around him. When he had enough of answering questions he dismissed us with a wave of his hand. But till then, he took care and answered questions articulately.
In most democracies, the term for elected members is two or more years. Yet at the BCCI, we have one-year terms. Has the time come to change that?
After the last AGM, I had said there was tremendous scope to improve the overall rules and term of the board. Having an election every year does not give stability to any organisaiton. It takes you two-three months to prepare for an election. If you are elected, two weeks or so to get organized and so you get hardly seven-eight months to work. There is no election procedure either. In any other election, there is a procedure, a voters list is announced, there is time given for raising objections after the list is finalized, time given to file nominations, so all the voters also know who the candidates are. These things are accepted throughout the world in all democracies. This is an area that has to be looked into. After last year's meeting I myself discussed this with Mr Jagmohan Dalmiya and we agreed that this is the time we should take some corrective measures but unfortunately we could not get time but I will try to take all sides of the board into confidence and try to bring some regularity and uniformity here.
But there are different systems in different states. Some states have districts voting, some have clubs, others individuals. Should there not be some uniformity here?
I would be happy if there is a uniform constitution but that is not possible in a democratic set up. Every state has different constitutions. This has to be discussed threadbare in our committee, first informally and more officially. I would be happy if there is a uniform constitution and wide representation given to every district or similar other groups in the states. It will only give strength to any state. We will discuss this and try to give some guidelines.
What would you have liked to have achieved in one year when the elections come around again?
There are certain things which we have to plan for as early as possible. Like the planning for the 2006 Champions trophy has to begin as is only ten months way. All the countries will be coming here. That entire preparation is the most important for our Board. Prior to that, my real worry is the functioning of the board. I have no personal complaints against any functionary but with the system which has been adopted in a number of years. The constitution says Mumbai is the headquarters. If you go to the BCCI office in Bombay, it is empty, nothing is there. When we ask for a particular circular or paper, we are told it is with the secretary who lives in another state and another place. So you have to contact him. Then the treasurer lives in another state. Whenever a new board takes over, the new finance committee chairman or treasurer transfers the entire finances of the board from one bank to another. This money is in fixed deposits where, if you interrupt deposits before maturity, you lose a lot of money. This is public money, it is not ours, we are just the trustees. I want to discuss this issue with my colleagues and convince them to behave as per constitution. Therefore set up a full-fledged headquarters in Bombay which is where the constitution says the head office must be based. Appoint a professional official to take care of day to day affairs and let the secretary and other office bearers visit from time to time. We have to introduce some discipline and some system for the day-to-day running of the board. I have to give first priority to that.
|We have got a lot of money kept in the bank which is a good thing but we are not supposed to just earn interest, we are also supposed to spend some money for infrastructure, on the game and on players|
What are your views on zonal representation in the selection panel? Does this not lead to quota selections and is there a need for change?
There is a zonal system but I don't think there is a system of quotas. It has been accepted for quite a while and I would not want to make any changes without consulting my colleagues. There is scope to look into the matter but you cannot just set aside the whole system. We need to try to fully understand its pluses and minuses. We must remember it also gets representation from all zones, so no zone is neglected. There have not been major complaints about the selection committee, there are some problems here and there, small things in the last number of years, but the vast experience is not that bad.
Will you be closely involved in the cricket side of things or will you focus on administration?
Any decision pertaining to cricket has to be taken essentially by those closely associated with the game, who knows the game well. I will be happy if there is a committee set up which will deal with cricketing matters which is run by the eminent cricketers of the country. For instance, I am president of Bombay cricket for the last four years but I don't know anything about the selection process because we have picked a committee of eminent cricketers, headed by Madhav Apte, a former opener for India. Along with other cricketers, they discuss, they select. Whatever they suggest we just approve. The time has come in the board where the game, the management of the game, and selection of the players has to be kept altogether separate. Internally, there may be problems about a board's representative but it should not reflect on the career or future of any player.
You have spoken about developing infrastructure. But how will you ensure that state associations actually spend this money properly? After all, many associations do not own their grounds and are not keen to spend money on them ...
The country needs excellent quality infrastructure. Hyderabad is trying to build a stadium and require a lot of money and the board has given them a grant of Rs4crores (40million). Now Rs3-4crores (30-40million) may have been useful at a particular time, but today if you want to construct a stadium with a capacity of 30,000-40,000 it requires 35-40crores (350-400million); I believe at least 25% has to be provided by the board. We have got a lot of money kept in the bank which is a good thing but we are not supposed to just earn interest, we are also supposed to spend some money for infrastructure, on the game and on players.
And how will you tackle TV rights? Many believe Doordarshan has an unfair advantage over others when it comes to matches played in India ...
Ultimately the law of the land is supreme, when the Indian parliament has taken a decision, we have to respect that. But I don't think that this is the type of issue that you should agitate for or fight for in the court and waste a lot of time and money over. I have asked our legal counsel to send me a list of pending cases. I think there are a number of pending cases with supreme and state high courts pertaining to the board. We have to act in such a fashion that the board's interest is protected. And if there is unnecessary litigation, we need to take care of it.
Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo