The BCCI put on a show to match (and in some ways outdo) the ICC awards last night, when they handed out the CK Nayudu awards for lifetime achievement in Indian cricket and felicitated former chiefs of the board and captains of the Test team. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag were the glamour boys, but it was an evening where the achievements of several greats, the spin quartet in particular, were fondly remembered.
A red carpet stretching from the Vinoo Mankad Gate well inside the Wankhede Stadium led to an impressive podium set up in front of the Sachin Tendulkar stand, and on it Ravi Shastri, a former Indian captain himself, acted as the master of ceremonies reading out a roll call of names that would impress any cricket fans. And Shastri, unlike some of the Bollywood beauties who chattered on and on during the ICC awards, did not mispronounce any cricketers' names. This was a function for the cricketers, by the cricketers, crisp and to the point, and in that sense far more enjoyable than the one the ICC had put up at a considerably greater expense.
The CK Nayudu Awards for Lifetime achievement were conferred by the famous spin quartet of Bishan Bedi, Bhagwat Chandrashekar, Erapalli Prasanna and S Venkataraghavan as well as Nawab Ali Khan 'Tiger' Pataudi and Chandu Borde, former captains of India, and BB Nimbalkar, whose record score of 443 is still the highest by an Indian in first-class cricket. The Nayudu Award comes with a citation and Rs 5,00,000 in cash, an increase from the Rs 2,00,000 the previous awardees used to received.
The BCCI also used the day to formally inaugurate their headquarters, a building housed in the Wankhede Stadium that has been constructed in record time. Interestingly, the presence of Mohammad Azharuddin - which initially raised eyebrows among the ICC - did not cause a negative stir. Instead, he was one of the star attractions among the media and the officials of the cricket board.
Three former captains - Polly Umrigar, who is ailing, Sourav Ganguly, who is playing in the Duleep Trophy, and Kapil Dev - were not present. Among former board presidents BN Dutt, Jagmohan Dalmiya - no real surprise there - and AC Muthiah, did not turn up. That apart, the function was an unqualified success and, just in case you thought Bollywood was not represented, Saif Ali Khan, the son of Tiger Pataudi, was very much around with his two children in tow, as was Sangeeta Bijlani, wife of Azharuddin. And they certainly beat anyone the ICC could throw up - barring Preity Zinta, who endorses Hyundai, the sponsors of the ICC awards - in star value.
List of CK Nayudu awardees: BB Nimbalkar, MAK Pataudi, Chandu Borde, Bishan Bedi, Bhagwat Chandrashekar, Erapalli Prasanna, S Venkataraghavan.
Past presidents felicitated: PM Rungta, NKP Salve, BN Dutt (absent), IS Bindra, Raj Singh Dungarpur, AC Muthiah, Jagmohan Dalmiya (both absent), Ranbir Singh Mahendra.
Past captains felicitated: Nari Contractor, MAK Pataudi, Chandu Borde, Polly Umrigar, Ajit Wadekar, S Venkataraghavan, Bishan Bedi, GR Visvanath, Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Dilip Vengsarkar, Ravi Shastri, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, Mohammad Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag.