'They can get things done' - Vengsarkar
The historic win of Anil Kumble's group - including Javagal Srinath, Venkatesh Prasad and Roger Binny - in the Karnataka State Cricket Association elections on Sunday will help the sport in the state, feel former cricketers who have been involved in state associations.
Dilip Vengsarkar, the current vice-president of the Mumbai Cricket Association, and Ajit Wadekar, who held the same position for eight years in the 1990s, are among those who have given their backing to Kumble and his former India team-mates. "Their word carries weight," said Vengsarkar, "and therefore they can get things done." Wadekar said the biggest advantage of ex-cricketers taking up administrative roles is that they can understand and work at the grassroot level of domestic cricket. "It is important that the cricketers travel into the interiors of the state," he said, "and observe what the reality is in school, club and youth cricket and work out if the infrastructure along with the cricketing structure is healthy."
Arshad Ayub, the president of the Hyderabad Cricket Association, said Kumble and Srinath would bring sincerity to their roles in the KSCA. "I have played with both of them and I know they keep it straight," he said. "I am sure they will do well." He said, however, it was also crucial that the rest of their team shared the same principles as "a few people can make a difference if they are not honest enough."
Wadekar warned that though the positions Kumble and Co. have won in the KSCA are honourary, there is a lot of hard work involved. "One has to go to various grounds, converse with club secretaries, ground officials and understand their issues and limitations," he said. "But one advantage ex-cricketers have is that we take quick decisions. These three [Kumble, Srinath and Prasad] are well qualified, which is an added advantage." Vengsarkar said in addition to the work, the players will also carry the responsibility of not marring the reputation of cricketers who go into administration.
Kumble, Srinath and Prasad are the first amongst their generation of ex-India cricketers who have elected to get involved in cricket administration, but Ayub says there are already several associations wherein cricketers have an important role in the system. "In Hyderabad, several players have a say in the administration," he said. "Shivlal Yadav was secretary, and Venkatapathy Raju came in about three years ago. We have been active in building the new stadium as well as setting up the infrastructure for academies."
Kumble and Co. have won the elections, but the hard part of actually influencing the running of the KSCA lies ahead. Vengsarkar is convinced they can achieve change and wishes them well. "Make the most of it - put your heart and soul into it and work hard because you can really make a difference."