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The Supreme Court has bestowed an extraordinary honour on Sunil Gavaskar by proposing his name as the replacement of N Srinivasan as the President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. Arunabha Sengupta reflects on the possible reasons and probable reactions.
“As an opening batsman, you have to be prepared for all kinds of challenges, you have to play in all kinds of pitches, you are always prepared for a challenge mentally and physically.” Thus spoke Sunil Gavaskar in the aftermath of Supreme Court’s trendsetting action of proposing his name as the replacement President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
And if there is some uncertainty about the conditions, Gavaskar was known to play with the straightest of bats, to watch closely for late movement, never one to commit himself to the stroke even a wee bit earlier than necessary.
Hence, it is hardly surprising that he added: “But we will have to wait and watch until tomorrow (Friday) in which direction it goes. Let’s not jump the gun.”
As ever, Gavaskar has the perfect idea about the best moment to take strike. He also understands that a huge honour has been bestowed on him.
No, it is not that Gavaskar will be proving anything special by occupying a position previously held by N Srinivasan. It is indeed an administrative position, but it is also the post at the pinnacle of Indian cricket. Gavaskar’s sheer weight of cricketing credentials tilt the balance in his favour against all the previous Board Presidents put together.
However, the honour lies in being singled out by the Supreme Court as the person in whom one can entrust the future of cricket in these dreadfully murky days.
Of course, the suggestion of the Supreme Court also stems from the absolute lack of confidence in the apex body governing cricket in India. The court wants to nullify the chances of the BCCI erecting a puppet President with plenty of blatant controlling strings for Srinivasan and his cronies to pull.
Yet, that is perhaps what constitutes the teeny tiny glitch in this recommendation.
There remains a rather huge number of followers of the game who still perceive the Little Master as a man of the Srinivasan camp. There remains the contract as a commentator that binds the great man to the BCCI. And there remain the many, many complaints that the man, who had stood steadfastly up against the administration in his playing days, has been incredibly reticent while speaking about the misdeeds of the Board.
While airing his views on topics as varied and controversial as the ‘Big Three takeover’ to the dilemma over DRS (Decision Review System), Gavaskar has been either supportive or silent about the most suspect of stances taken by the BCCI.
Of course, the man himself has made recent comments which can be construed as voicing his opinion against the Board. It can definitely be argued, at least academically, that his contract as a commentator involves ties that are financial in nature but do not creep up to harness the words he speaks.
Yes, he has been severely critical of the Indian team in recent times. Yet, most of his comments have been directed at the entire side. The only targeted name that has borne the brunt of his criticism has been that of Duncan Fletcher. It can be that Gavaskar’s reservations about foreign coaches perhaps both predate and override the dotted lines binding him to the BCCI.
But this slight snag aside, it is indeed the greatest of honours — to be deemed by the highest court of the country as the one man among billions who can lead the operation of cleansing Indian cricket from this quagmire of corruption.
Irrespective of the public perception about the synergies between Gavaskar and the BCCI, the court is prepared to place the fullest trust in him.
“When the Supreme Court asks you, there is no question about it, there is not much you can do and I will be happy to do what they ask me to do,” Gavaskar has remarked. That indicates he will indeed take up the role unless something drastically changes the equations on the morrow.
And at the same time, he has continued to shoulder arms expertly when queries about Srinivasan have been posed: “Look, I think we need to understand that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. I would not be able to pass judgement on that. It is not my area. It is a completely different issue on which I have zero experience,” he commented on NDTV.
Whatever be it, if and when Gavaskar takes strike to open another critical innings, millions of intent eyes will be following the action with the keenest of interest.
(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix
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