'Ministers should not be kept out'

INTERVIEW

'Ministers should not be kept out'
Ajit Wadekar, who had been closely involved with Indian cricket, knows a lot on how the Board of Control for Cricket in India functions. The former India captain weighs in his opinion on various recommendations made by the Justice Lodha committee in order to restructure the Board. Pragya Tiwari of Deccan Herald catches up with the veteran cricketer. Excerpts of the interview:

How do you look at Lodha committee recommendations in the restructuring of BCCI?
Overall, it looks good. In a sense, it is not just about the welfare of cricket in India. A little bit of intervention was necessary in the functioning of the BCCI. I thought they should have consulted more past cricketers. I am not sure if all the recommendations could be implemented. For example, the original system of Ranji Trophy had three teams of Maharashtra, Mumbai and Vidarbha and the same is the case with Gujarat. It may be difficult to implement the committee’s recommendation of one vote for one association.  

What’s the inherent problem with the BCCI and do you think implementing the panel’s report is the only way to restore BCCI’s lost credibility?

I feel there is small group of 33 voters and they tend to remain together when it comes to election or something like that. While players’ situation has become better, which is a very good sign, there are also some good past cricketers who have been completely neglected. I suppose what happened in the IPL, especially with Chennai Super Kings, should be avoided. The BCCI should have been more transparent. But Shashank Manohar as BCCI president has taken a good note of the matter. He knows the working of the BCCI well. Some of the recommendations of the committee are good but they need to be implemented.

As a cricketer, which of the recommendations are you particularly happy with and why?

I am particularly happy with the recommendation to legalise betting. We are living in the generation of black money, so it is good to make it official. In England, Australia and most developed countries, betting has been legalised. To some extent, unofficial betting will always be there but importantly, it will help the youngsters who tend to fall to the temptations of making quick money.

How do you look at the suggestion that only cricketers be part of administration at the State unit? Or you think it should be `the best man for the job’ policy?

I feel the administration should mostly comprise of past cricketers, if not completely. It is essential. Having played for the country, they know what is required to represent the country, the importance of welfare and promotion of the sport. I feel there should be nominations of good cricketers in associations like Sunil Gavaskar or Dilip Vengsarkar. They should be consulted as often as possible.

Do you think keeping ministers and government servants out of the Board will be a solution to BCCI’s problems?

I am not very happy with this recommendation. Not all ministers are bad. In fact, they should be there to some extent as their presence is helpful. They have got the power, they know how to get things done locally. They make organisation’s tasks much easier as they know the tricks. The same thing cricketers would find it very difficult to execute.

Do you think the formation of players’ union will get BCCI’s patronage and help protect cricketers’ interests?

I am not sure. Unlike in Australia and England where these unions have been running for years, it is going to be a tough proposition here. It is difficult to get all the players together as they belong to different states, cultures and regions. But if a union has to be set up, it should be made of past cricketers as then there would be no stakes involved. Also, the union should be constructive and not come into the way of functioning of the Board. It should be there to suggest improvements. However, I doubt if it really would be supported by the board, it could turn out to be problematic!

As a former cricketer, do you think having just three selectors is feasible?

The accountability in selection is most essential.  We have five zones in the country. Now, if I am the chairman of the committee and I am from the West Zone, I would find it tough to locate the talents in other zones. It is next to impossible to watch each and every match. So, ideally there should be five selectors.
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