'Cricketing background huge advantage' - Vengsarkar
Now that his eight-year term as vice-president of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) is up, former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar has set his sights on becoming president. To get there, he will have to defeat his fellow vice-president, and former Maharashtra chief minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh in Friday's election, but Vengsarkar believes his experience as a player gives him a "huge advantage", especially since it is combined with the administrative expertise he has gained during his tenure as vice-president.
"A cricketing background allows you to take the right decisions and implement them as well," Vengsarkar told ESPNcricinfo. "A person has to be a hands-on person and he has to be there all the time. Implementation is very important. You can take the correct decisions, but if the implementation is not there, then all purpose is lost."
Mumbai cricket has been the target of criticism in recent times, with some commentators suggesting that India's most successful domestic team has lost its edge, especially after the team lost to eventual champions Rajasthan in last season's Ranji Trophy quarter-final. But Vengsarkar defended the team, pointing out that Mumbai were champions the year before and said it was a case of other states catching up as cricket has spread across the country rather than Mumbai declining.
At the same time, he said there was a need to respond to the shifting plates of domestic cricket, and believed it started with improving cricket at the grassroots level in the city to make sure no talent went untapped. "We have to give lot of boost to school cricket, college cricket, official club cricket. Concentrate a lot on grassroots cricket. Make it stronger. Tap the talent and groom the players. We need good grounds and good wickets. We want to train 150 coaches and if schools and colleges want them, we can employ them there."
Improving the maidans in Mumbai is another priority for Vengsarkar as maidan cricket has long been the lifeblood of the sport in the city, with the likes of Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar first forging their reputations playing on these generally oval-shaped open spaces. "Maidan cricket is very important," he said. "We need to improve the facilities for maidan cricket and we have to assist them financially also."
Another pillar of Vengsarkar's campaign is the revival of office and corporate cricket so that jobs are created for players in corporate houses. He also told the Mumbai Mirror, that there are plans to launch a Mumbai Premier League in the near future.
Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo