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Gavaskar's moment of truth

Sunil Gavaskar's forays into administration have been brief, abortive and ridden with conflicts of interest. Now, as he answers the Supreme Court's call, will he be able to translate his administrative potential into performance?

Sidharth Monga, Nagraj Gollapudi and Amol Karhadkar

March 28, 2014

Comments: 12 | Text size: A | A

Sunil Gavaskar, who has had a chequered past in cricket administration, now enters the trickiest phase of his post-player career with the Supreme Court nominating him as the interim BCCI chief. Unlike in his playing days, the administrative positions Gavaskar has held were marked by an inability to complete any of those roles. Several assignments had been curtailed because of a perceived conflict of interest.

When asked a day before the appointment if he would be ready to take on the challenge, Gavaskar evoked his playing days, and said as an opener he had the experience of doing the "dirty work". Gavaskar was an enterprising cricketer, never shy of taking on the establishment or the established order. He managed to write two books - no ghost-writer needed for him - even as he played international cricket. He was more aware of the world around him than an average athlete, and seemed to have the nous to take on an important role after he retired.

However, the promise failed to materialise. We have heard a lot from Gavaskar the columnist and commentator, but his involvement with administration has been limited. It began with a brief stint as a co-opted member of the Mumbai Cricket Association in the early '90s. Since then he has shown enough interest in administration to be part of committees, but hasn't gone all the way by contesting elections or taking full responsibility.


Sunil Gavaskar and Gundappa Viswanath walk the tightrope, England v India, 1st Test, Edgbaston, 5th day, July 16, 1979
Can Sunil Gavaskar walk the administrative tightrope? © PA Photos
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Gavaskar's two most high-profile forays into cricket administration were in the ICC cricket committee and the IPL governing council. Neither ended well. Malcolm Speed, who was then the ICC chief executive, had to tell Gavaskar "very clearly" that he would have to choose between his role at the ICC and as a columnist, because of the sometimes controversial nature of his columns.

When Gavaskar was on the IPL governing council, he was also reported to have been a mentor to the conglomerate that bought the Kochi franchise. He eventually quit the governing council citing financial reasons. He sought US$1 million as compensation as opposed to the Rs1 crore ($200,000) promised, which was denied by the BCCI.

"I opted out of the governing council simply because I think that the IPL is a total commercial enterprise," Gavaskar had said then. "Those who are giving their expertise, experience, inputs, time and credibility with their names should be remunerated for it. Please remember I have not asked for nor received a single rupee for being the coach and consultant of the Indian team in the past. That I felt was my duty towards Indian cricket for what it has made me. However, the IPL is not Indian cricket but a commercial enterprise and so the former players in the governing council should be remunerated for that."

When Gavaskar served as the batting consultant in 2004-05, though, he wrote a column months later saying the players were not happy with the coach John Wright, a situation he neither tried to correct nor report to the BCCI. There was previous to this too: Gavaskar had not been happy when Wright was appointed the India coach without his approval. He was on future committees to select the India coach, but remained a critic of Greg Chappell.

When Gavaskar was the head of the BCCI technical committee, it would meet once a year or twice at best. When he joined the MCA cricket improvement committee, he resigned soon after, in May 2011, citing "busy professional commitments till India's tour to Australia ends in February". Gavaskar has also served as chairman of the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. Even before that appointment he had once left in a huff when Raj Singh Dungarpur criticised his column that in turn criticised an NCA team getting a match against the touring Zimbabwe side.

As a media man, too, Gavaskar has put his credibility and independence on the line by being on the BCCI payroll. He is also linked to PMG, a column-syndication, player-management and event-management company. This time, though, the highest court of the land has ruled that he will have to give up all his other commitments, for which the BCCI will compensate him. Have the decks been cleared for all the administrative promise you saw in Gavaskar the cricketer?

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (April 2, 2014, 2:08 GMT)

Bold honest and great article. gavaskar has always been controversial and selfish. lets wait and see what has changed.

Posted by   on (March 30, 2014, 8:37 GMT)

It would be great if legends like Sunny Bhai are given a long tenure. Otherwise there is not much that they can offer. Anil Kumble is another candidate for the BCCI Chief's post. He has been a great player, a great ambassador for the game and also has administration experience.

Posted by ashok16 on (March 30, 2014, 8:15 GMT)

Great column and a perfect picture. I think the man behind him is the peerless GRV. He would make a great BCCI chief.

Posted by Collegefastbowler on (March 29, 2014, 12:11 GMT)

In general being a savvy administrator and being a successful cricketer are two different things. Being a successful doctor does not mean that you can be a successful lawyer or a successful engineer. These are different professions and you need the required degree of expertise and experience besides commitment, drive and integrity to be able to succeed. However there are always exceptions and the general rule need not hold true in all cases. Hopefully Gavaskar can prove the exception. He certainly has the stature to be able to pull it off but whether he has the other required attributes only time will tell.

Posted by   on (March 29, 2014, 10:13 GMT)

Written with clarity and courage.

Posted by   on (March 29, 2014, 4:35 GMT)

Sunny will have a limited tenure. If anyone feels he can turn the world upside down during this brief period, those people are going to be disappointed.

Posted by   on (March 28, 2014, 23:38 GMT)

Sunil Gavaskar was a class batsman during his playing day. Than he himself to be great commentator and columnists. I am sure he is the best option to be the Indian cricket chief. Best of lucky Sunny, from Pakistan.

Posted by   on (March 28, 2014, 22:25 GMT)

1) Actually the supreme court could have given the administrative qualities expected of the former player which it wanted to head the BCCI and the vice-presidents could have chosen Mr Gavaskar or any other suitable person. 2) I don't think changing the top person would change everything in a jiffy. It is the system and the procedures followed that must change. Individuals can only give directions. But there must be a system to put them into practice. 3) Any way, here are my best wishes to the original little master in his new role.

Posted by ultrasnow on (March 28, 2014, 17:37 GMT)

Just out of curiosity, why did it take three people to write this column? By the way, nice picture of Sunny and Vishy with a very apt caption.

Posted by AjaySridharan on (March 28, 2014, 17:29 GMT)

I'm assuming Gavaskar has the right to decline the posting, right? It seemed weird that the SC would just go about nominating someone on a matter they have no expertise on.

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