No Indian cricketer had endured such a vast bitter-sweet relationship with cricket officials in the 1970s and 1980s than Sunil Manohar Gavaskar.
While he made the BCCI proud through his batting exploits across the globe, he also challenged them to keep thinking about players' welfare. Indeed, he fought many a fight off the field which benefited not just himself but also his team.
While he was playing hard ball with the cricket establishment, never would he have imagined that one day he would sit on the highest chair of cricket officialdom of his country. While we digest the news of his appointment as the interim BCCI chief, it must be stressed that his role is restricted to the Indian Premier League.
In many ways, he is the top boss of the league which has been consistent in one aspect ever since it began in 2008 - controversy.
Without disputing the eligibility of Gavaskar for the top job in Indian cricket, it has to be said that the master batsman will face some tough challenges over the next few months. First, let’s a take a quick look back at the Mumbaikar’s previous forays into the administrative side of
Administrator Sunny Gavaskar's first real experience as an administrator came in 1998 when he was roped in as vice-president of the Mumbai Cricket Association following the death of Ramakant Desai. When election time came, Gavaskar refused to contest. His reasoning was that he didn't want a situation where he would have to contest against some of his former team-mates. And he didn't. Hence, his administrative stint was restricted to just seven months.
In the new millennium, Gavaskar became a key advisor to the National Cricket Academy when the BCCI was chaired by A C Muthiah and powered by the late Raj Singh Dungrapur. He ended his association in dramatic circumstances in December 2000. Gavaskar wrote in a column that the NCA should not have been given a game against the touring Zimbabwe team in 2000 because he felt that there were other players who deserved to play against a touring team.
His view didn't go down well with NCA chairman Raj Singh, who slammed Gavaskar in an interview. On reading Raj Singh's reaction, Gavaskar headed to the Cricket Club of India where the NCA committee was meeting and handed his resignation. A couple of years later, when Jagmohan Dalmiya became BCCI president, Gavaskar was appointed as NCA chairman. But his stint with NCA was not as productive as one expected because he had to devote a large chunk of time to his duties as a commentator.
For eight years, he headed the International Cricket Council's Cricket Committee. That he was also doubling up as a media pundit didn’t go down well with the ICC top brass.
Then ICC chief Malcolm Speed asked Gavaskar to choose between being part of the media or the game's governing body. He chose the obvious path.
In 2009, he was invited to take over as Mumbai Cricket Association's Cricket Improvement Committee from Madhav Apte, who played with Gavaskar in the batting legend's early years. After two years, he sent his resignation because his schedule was too tight to carry on.
Gavaskar's latest stint as BCCI's interim boss doesn't appear to be long.
Once the IPL is completed in early June, Gavaskar could be getting set for a long English summer in which he could be on commentary duty for five Tests and a limited overs’ series. By then hopefully, Indian cricket will look a lot prettier than it does at the moment, and the onus is on Gavaskar to set things right.
Of course, there are some points of conflict of interest in Gavaskar’s case too. He is in the BCCI payroll as a commentator for the official broadcaster, earning Rs 3.6 crore annually.
When Gavaskar was part of the IPL Governing Council, he was also reported to have been an advisor to the group that bought the Kochi franchise.
Gavaskar eventually quit the Governing Council citing financial reasons, seeking US $1 million as compensation as opposed to the Rs 1 crore promised, which was denied by the BCCI. He is also linked to PMG, a column-syndication, event management and player management.
The Supreme Court has asked him to come out of the contract with BCCI and all other commitments for the duration of the IPL, but at the same time it has asked the Board to pay compensation to Gavaskar for missing his commentary stint during the cash-rich league.
It is now left to the Little Master to ensure that the controversy-ridden IPL has a smooth sail.
Little Master not without controversies
Reportedly signed a Rs 3.6 cr contract with BCCI in 2011 for cricket commentary
Was part of IPL Governing Council but was dropped in 2010 following a shake-up. It was said Sunny rejected the offer as it was only honorary but hit back at the charges
He is the founder-director and chairman of his firm, the Professional Management Group; its website says it has signed a ‘multi-million dollar five year deal’ with Virendra Sehwag; manages Varun Aaron and Manoj Tiwari; event manager for the annual CEAT Cricket Rating Awards and the CASTROL awards for Cricketing Excellence (India) etc
Created a furore when he, while captaining India, almost walked out of the MCG along with his batting partner Chetan Chauhan, after being given out LBW