Since I had stepped aside from cricket, I was able to play golf. Administering the BCCI and running my own business takes a lot of time. So my spare time got eaten into. So the truth is, during this period I could afford to try to get my swing back again.
I won't call it tough or difficult. I felt I had been unfairly attacked. Continuous attack on me. As I said somewhere, one particular paper had about 90 pieces written about me, 11-12 editorials, and I was occupying the entire front page for 10-11 days. This has never happened in independent India. Am I worth that much of coverage? I am not that big a businessman. BCCI is not that big.
Cricket is big, I agree, but not to this extent.
Unfair because somewhere along the line I think some amount of focus was lost. I had announced clearly that I was not an accused. I had not done anything wrong, and then I stepped aside. And then the BCCI working committee, at a meeting which I did not attend because I had stepped aside, appointed this probe commission. Somehow it got represented as if I [appointed it]. I did not. They appointed the probe commission, and then events followed. Somebody went to court, then it went to Supreme Court etc. So how am I to be blamed for that?
No, I had stepped aside. You must understand this, really. If you talk to members of the BCCI, you will understand very clearly that once I stepped aside, I was away. This meeting was held in Kolkata. The secretary was there, other members were there. I was nowhere to be seen, and neither was I in touch.
That is wrong. That is where I say it was unfair. Because I was very correct, proper. I was absolutely proper in this matter.
But then I did [step aside]. That was my initial reaction, but then I said, all right. I did not mind it. The rest is history.
I was involved in the disciplinary committee, I am not involved in the other one. So that cannot be laid at my doorstep.
I cannot comment on this as this is sub judice.
Everything is connected. I have to be very careful, and I am, because I do not want in the least bit for anybody to petition - be it the court or anybody - to [say] that I am trying to influence things. So this is hands off for me. I accepted it. Supreme Court has said, you co-operate but stay out. Yes sir. And I genuinely believe that.
Even that propriety, you must understand… If I express myself freely on this, I will again be travelling to certain areas I should not be. Inevitably. Please understand my caution in this. I have to be cautious. I have to watch it.
That is also before the Supreme Court. AC Muthiah has filed a petition going up and down. That's before the Supreme Court. I can't enter these areas. You have to understand, you are interviewing me at a time when [there are] certain topics I shouldn't speak about.
I don't think so. Unfortunately I can't elaborate on some of these topics. What I say is, let these matters get settled, and I will address this then. I will address it when I am able to speak. You have to give me that opportunity. I can't talk when matters are sub judice.
I was pleased. People who have known me for a long time will believe what I say. In the sense that I am a person who has always focused on what to do next. I don't carry any grudges, I don't have any such feelings at all. That's how I am. People who have known me for years will attest to it. I will just move on. This happened, okay, fine, I dealt with it, I am glad, I am back, I go on.
First and foremost, I never get upset. Words like "forgive" and things like that, I don't know in what context people are saying that. But those who have moved with me will know that this is not true. Those who have moved with me and know me for a very long time will carry a different impression.
Yeah, I read it. But I will not comment on what someone else says.
"We don't censor commentators. This word "censorship" is incorrect. BCCI doesn't tell the commentator, you say this, you cannot say this, and things like that"
But I am not an autocrat. I don't want to get into debates. I have a job to do, and I will do my job. I realise this is not a permanent job. This is not my bread and butter, it's an honorary job.
I am entitled to a term, and I think I am entitled to finish it. So I do not think it wrong.
I'll put it differently. I stand up for what I believe is right. And I think the rest of me all of you have seen. I am honest, very honest. And, I think my character has been seen in the last few months.
I don't know. See, I have generally been a private person. I think anybody in media would agree that I am a private person. I don't have a favourite journalist to whom I give information, or to whom I give a scoop. If I speak, I speak in front of all. This is all that I have done, and I have administered the game.
See, I can't do anything about that. It doesn't affect me. It doesn't affect me because when I am not in BCCI I will not merit one line in any newspaper, so why must I worry about the 20 lines now?
No, no. This I will address because I think it is important. Why did the BCCI start producing? Television production was disorganised. It wasn't professional. There were lots of freelancers involved, the production house was just coordinating things. We wanted to make it systematic and we wanted domestic cricket covered professionally so that we can monitor performances, evaluate umpires…
We don't censor commentators. This word "censorship" is incorrect. BCCI doesn't tell the commentator, you say this, you cannot say this, and things like that. But if there was an instance and if you were to come to know about it, please feel free to bring to my attention.
What has he said? Ian Chappell is not employed by us. We have never said anything to him. We are talking about people employed by us.
I can't comment on that. You have to ask Star.
You're asking me the wrong question. You're asking the wrong person. BCCI doesn't tell the commentator anything. We produce domestically. BCCI in no way interferes with the freedom of the press. But a commentator should be a commentator, and a journalist should be a journalist.
See, we do not interfere with selection. There is a selection committee. People select. Now if someone comments on it, they are not commenting on BCCI, so it doesn't worry me.
I feel the DRS was not sufficiently good. Even assuming it is 100% reliable - which it is not, my view always was that - if you give two referrals, then generally batsmen up the order will take it. And it really may not be [ideal] for eliminating a howler. And I said, if it's only two referrals, then it is a lottery. If you want, first you decide to refer every decision.
This is where I say I am not a bully, I don't force my view on others.
The question of the DRS comes up at the Cricket Committee [CC] meeting in the ICC. At the CC, players give their view, then administrators have their view, etc. The BCCI view is this.
I am glad you asked this question. One of the reasons was we felt that we should be [playing] more international cricket in India during our season, and there should be a balance between inbound and outbound tours. And we felt that this year we had very little international cricket [in India], and therefore we needed to supplement it, so we invited the West Indies. This was the thought process.
There are some challenges, as I said. We are meeting them. Let us see what happens.
I want to make one thing clear. We are not anyone to say who should or should not be the chief executive of another board. But there are some challenges. Maybe after discussions I might talk about it. I should not prejudice the discussions by talking about it now. So talk to me in a few days' time. I don't want to discuss it now.
The last several years have been very good for Indian cricket. If you look at the positives, we won the World Cup, we won the Champions Trophy.
In retrospect, we probably didn't have enough preparatory time in England when we went there. The injury list was a little long, we had fitness problems for our major players. The Indian team was in transition.
"We are not anyone to say who should or should not be the chief executive of another board. But there are some challenges. Maybe after discussions I might talk about it"
Not in India alone but all around the world. Because if it has to survive, it has to survive globally.
I don't see lack of enthusiasm. But if you say, will you produce the Dravids, Laxmans, Tendulkars and Gangulys immediately, I don't know. But I think there is enough talent that the players will keep coming.
BCCI focuses on Test cricket.
The ICC are focusing on the global game. They want to give primacy to Test cricket, which I fully support. The reaction of the spectator is different in different geographies. People are trying their level best in seeing how to increase the level of enthusiasm for the game.
The problem here is, one group of people says we are taking too much leadership, we are throwing our weight around. Other group says we are not doing enough.
The fact that cricket doesn't evoke the same enthusiasm and response from spectators in all geographies is a matter of concern. There are countries where cricket was so popular once upon a time and now you find empty stadiums. At the ICC level we are looking into this very seriously to see what are the issues that have to be addressed to remedy and set this right.
You are talking about two different things now. One is, you are talking about the global game and how to bring the spectator back. The other aspect is the quality of the teams. The ICC has now put in place a targeted assistance programme to assist some of these nations to better develop their cricket, if funding was an issue, which India has supported. This funding is for facilities, training academies. This has been started recently and the BCCI has supported it fully. And this is possibly not far from what Rahul is saying.
I don't consider myself such a great leader or something to talk about legacies. As long as people realise that our interest was solely cricket, and we worked hard for Indian cricket, and thereby also helped consolidate world cricket, I would be happy.
Sambit Bal is the editor of ESPNcricinfo