Ajay Shirke might bring some reforms in BCCI ©  AFP
Ajay Shirke might bring some reforms in BCCI © AFP

Ajay Shirke was appointed by BCCI President Anurag Thakur who was recently elected by the board. Shrike had worked for BBCI as Board’s treasurer in 2012-13 before he raised his voice against how BCCI coped with corruption scandal during IPL 2013. He believes in bringing more transparency in the system in order to become more credible. A lot is about to change in the functioning of BCCI. He shares his vision with Thakur too trying to bring a difference in the system. A lot of changes can be expected in the coming future. He expressed his plans in near future in an interview with ESPNcricinfo during the Iindian Premier League (IPL) final 2016 between Royal Challengers Banglaore and Sunrisers Hyderabad at Bangalore. ALSO READ: Visakhapatnam Stadium gets promoted, will host Test cricket

You have had experience in the BCCI working as a treasurer. You are well aware with how the board works. How is the transition from being a treasurer to board secretary?

What is difficult? The BCCI has been delivering its primary product efficiently despite all the so-called inefficiencies, court cases, scams. The BCCI has still delivered cricket. In all these 20 months of heightened controversy not a single match has been affected, not a single domestic tournament has been affected, no cricketer has suffered by want of non-payment, three board elections have happened smoothly, a World Twenty20 was organised, the IPL just concluded. So the perception of the board being at an all-time low does not, in my opinion, truly represent the abilities and qualities of the BCCI. By no stretch of imagination should you interpret this as me saying the BCCI has no issues or problems. We have [problems] and we are aware of that.

Why the sudden change of plans as you were hellbent on not returning to BCCI? What made you change your mind?

A week ago I did not think that I would be the BCCI secretary (laughs). There were certain people, including the BCCI president [Thakur] and Shashank Manohar, who said I should come back and contribute to the board. Manohar has been my old friend. I know him through his father. We all are cut from the same cloth. He has been an upright and forthright administrator and I would like to follow him in his footsteps.

Have the BCCI changed over the years since you have been associated with cricket closely?

It has undergone quite a lot of change. The BCCI is an increasingly complex organisation. Look at what the BCCI does as a cricketing body objectively. We do not take public funding. The game that we administer, we may not be No. 1 but we are a respected team across formats. We have been successful at unearthing and delivering young, fresh talent year after year. We have one of the largest infrastructure anywhere in the world, from state to district level. So [there is a big gap in] the perception of what the board is and what the board actually is.

Will you be changing BCCI’s approach of taking ad-hoc approach or follow the same system?

I have just taken over. I come from a position where I don’t know anything. I am starting from the scratch. I have gone through the daily attendance registers of everybody who comes to the BCCI office. I have just met umpires in the last few days and will be meeting more. I have met the handicap cricket association, I have met officials from women’s cricket. We want to build up systems [of accountability] from the bottom to the top. I am not defending the board in any way, but when I scrutinise the structure the BCCI, it has some excellent systems. Improvement is a course correction.

In reference to Lodha recommendations, you expressed your views that it cannot be recreated by one, do you intend to bring a few reporms into the structure?

Every process of decision-making, any policy we finalise, has to be arrived by due deliberation. All the cricket-driven processes should be advised to us by a very empowered and holistic group of cricketers. Let us say we will get 100 applications for the coach’s positions. It is not my intention to do that for ticking a box – that we advertise, but we have appointed you because we have already decided. As office bearers we should not be involved in deciding these things. All this should be covered in the vision document, which I expect the president to come up with shortly, where he sees the BCCI in the short to long term.

Did you had any meeting with the Lodha committee?

Yes, they called me. I was with them for a whole day. I strongly supported their recommendation on legalising betting and even provided them supporting documents. We, the BCCI, don’t have any powers. We can only counsel and educate. We don’t have any policing powers. So legalising betting is one of the biggest recommendations of the Lodha committee.

How do you consider this advisory system instead of the earlier one which featured Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly. and VVS Laxman?

This cricket advisory will eventually form into a committee. It is early to commit on who all will sit on this committee. It would certainly be made up of reputed cricketers and will not be ad-hoc. It would serve a long-term role and would be a professional committee. This panel will study and offer views on everything cricket in India at all levels – appointment of coaches, umpires, development of cricket, what do we do with the NCA, how we modernise the cricketing infrastructure. Those experts have to contribute on all these and many more cricketing issues. We, the BCCI members, have to merely sit as board of directors, and accept the suggestions of these experts. Our job is to implement.

Have the committee given any thought to shorten the length of IPL in the next season?

I am not aware of any such decision having been officially taken. I am not saying that it may or may not [happen], but there may be many issues to be looked into before such a decision can be taken. Availability of players, contract obligations with the broadcaster has to be considered first.