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N Srinivasan somehow manages to carve his own path even when the odds are stacked against him, writes Nishad Pai Vaidya.
The take-over of the International Cricket Council (ICC) is almost done. The Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI)’s exiled boss, N Srinivasan, is now the Chairman of the sport’s governing body on the world stage, even as he has been ousted at home. The controversial boss was unceremoniously told to step aside by the Supreme Court of India and it is said that there are some serious allegations against him in the light of the scandal that hit the sport last year. But, that didn’t come in his way to take full control of the ICC even though his house isn’t in order.
There is something about Srinivasan that helps him wade through these storms. He remains adamant and stubborn in the face of all the controversies. Last year, he refused to resign when his own son-in-law was arrested on charges of betting during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 6. And, this year, even when the Supreme Court has asked him to step aside, he resisted and didn’t budge. The man is headstrong and gets what he wants, something we have seen through the last year. With all that in the backdrop, he still managed to fashion a Big Three takeover of the ICC.
But, Srinivasan has majorly grabbed headlines as a cricket administrator. Beyond the cricketing field, he has led the India Cements Ltd since he became the Managing Director in 1989. Under his watch, India Cements have gone on to acquire numerous other cement holdings, in both friendly and hostile takeovers. When India Cements took control of Raasi Cements, Outlook noted, “The Raasi takeover proves that Srinivasan, the first fiercely competitive businessman to emerge from the south, has sharply honed his killer instinct. He has mastered the art of friendly as well as hostile takeovers even as he has built the group’s core competence in cement.” Even on the business front there were controversies with the alleged investment in Jaganmohan Reddy’s Bharti Cement, which was investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Srinivasan though, has shown that he isn’t the one who will stick to his company. He ventured into cricket administration in the early 2000s, with the former BCCI President AC Muttiah brought him into the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA). In an interview in 2013, when the scandal broke out, Muttiah expressed regret and told the Times of India, “It was a huge mistake. I thought he would do a good job as I wanted to have someone who has the ability to handle TNCA activities efficiently. But my decision backfired.” Since his entry, Srinivasan has won the TNCA elections a whopping 14 consecutive times, a true reflection of his clout in his home state.
The rise has been spectacular for Srinivasan, but hardly had anyone imagined that he would take control as ICC Chairman. Along the way, there were many signs, even before he was BCCI chief that he gets his way around. Even though, the BCCI’s constitution did not allow members to have some commercial interest in matches etc, the board changed in 2008 when Muttiah alleged conflict of interest with India Cements buying the Chennai franchise at the IPL. With that out of his way, he became the BCCI chief three years down the line. It was a domestic blitz that may have worried some of his adversaries at home, but it has now gone on to the world stage.
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