E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: The Board of Cricket Control for India (BCCI) also has names, which most are not aware of : the Board for Cricket Communications in India. Or the Board of Complete Confusion in India.
One has not seen a real tug-of-war till one has sat on a BCCI meeting.
While on the one hand, BCCI specializes in high-profile cloak-and-dagger operations, intrigues of the type Ian Fleming wrote for James Bond, it also specializes in business-like deliberations during its board meetings. It specializes in putting both its feet in the mouth and generally making an ass of itself.
Recently I had a chance to experience this first hand at its special meeting at Hotel Grand Ashok. I moved around dressed as a waiter, courtesy the hotel management, and was a fly on the wall when the business session started.
“Why are we harassing Dilip Vengsarkar, our chairman of selectors?” It was former BCCI chief Inderjit Singh Bindra who fired the first salvo.
“Nobody is harassing him,” replied Sharad Pawar, the current president. “Vengsarkar is one of the most respected cricketers of our time. He has decided to put the country’s interests first and will select the team for Australia.”
Before Pawar could finish, his deputy intervened.
“Since he is writing a column for Sakal we have put a gag on him,” butted in BCCI vice-president Rajiv Shukla. “It was highly irresponsible of Vengsarkar to write in Bal Thackeray’s Saamna which is an inflammatory rag at the most peaceful of times. He has to face disciplinary action.”
There was indiscipline on display right there. The veep was openly defying the prez!
“Is the Shah Rukh khan episode over? Is he going to be our permanent guest playing ‘Chak de India’ for all our matches?’”asked secretary Niranjan Shah.
“No way! He is using BCCI to get a name for himself FOC. If at all we have to have a star, I would rather have Ranbir Kapoor who is fresh and looks fresher with just a towel!’ said Prof Ratnakar Shetty.
“Shah Rukh is my permanent guest for all times and matches and will be allowed to sit in the pavilion, even if we don’t allow Vengsarakar and his friends or other selectors. Ever since Chak de, he has inspired me and our cricket players. I would even say, we won the Twenty20 World Cup because of him,” said vice-president Lalit Modi vehemently.
“Please, please! Don’t fight over each and every issue. Let’s agree on something at least,” said Pawar.
I guided his hand to the glass containing water. I knew he needed a drink badly.
He was sounding more like Somnath Chatterjee pleading for sanity and silence during the Congress and Leftists nuclear brouhaha in Lok Sabha.
“Since somebody mentioned Vengsarkar, I have to intervene. He is not interested in promoting under-19 cricketers, especially from Rajkot! I think he should go,” said Niranjan Shah who was unduly worried over under-19 selections ever since his son’s name was not in the list.
“Why are you talking of under-19, when we are here to select our team to tour Australia?” pleaded Pawar again spilling water on to his shirt.
“Before that, I want to know this. Should we call Gary Kirsten a coach? Or a consultant? Or an advisor? I am referring for the period from now to March.” That was N. Srinivasan who specializes in confounding everything from players’ contracts to anything, given half a chance. His googly continued, “Also please tell me whether our fielding coach and bowling coach will remain when Kirsten takes over as what-ever-the-name you all give him.”
The president who had taken two Aspirin tablets before he came for the meeting was looking down holding his head. At that time there was a call for him. It was from Zee’s Subash Chandra.
Since I was sitting on the receiver, I heard.
“Pawar Saab, namaskar. Will you come out of BCCI and run the ICL for me. Vengsarkar is already here. If you do this, I can help you out. I will get you finance portfolio in the next government regardless of whichever party wins at the Centre.”
“I can’t talk to you now as I am in the midst of a meeting,” said Pawar saab.