A World Cup winner, coach of Youth World Cup-winning team, KSCA vice-president and a Senior National Selector - Roger Binny has donned many hats. Karnataka State Cricket Association couldn't have had a more qualified person as its president in the post-CoA era. In a freewheeling chat with DH, Binny discusses the challenges and priorities for his team for the next three years.
Was it a conscious decision to come back to administration or it all happened on the spur because your name sprang up just a few days before elections...
In 2016, the Lodha Committee came with a different rule altogether. If you had completed nine years, you are out for good. But they were not specific about whether it applied to just office bearers or MC members as well. In between they said, it’s only the office bearers and then they came back saying it’s combined (office bearer and MC). Then it was said it (nine-year limit) applied only to office-bearers. I had done one term as vice-president in KSCA and one year into the second term (during Anil Kumble regime), I went to BCCI as Senior National selector. So I had done only four years as an office-bearer. I had already given my consent to the KSCA, it was just a matter of whether I am eligible or not.
Given the issues at BCCI with CoA and court cases, were you apprehensive to take up the responsibility?
That thing didn’t come to my mind at all. Basically I was happy that I am qualified, I always wanted to come back here and contribute to the KSCA as an administrator which I did as a player. I knew CoA wouldn’t stay for too long, they had to give it back to the BCCI.
What are the immediate challenges and priorities of your team?
Basically, we have a fantastic infrastructure which has been developed over the last 12-13 years. We just have to improve upon that. I think infrastructure needs to be looked at because we are not only developing grounds in Bengaluru but also in mofussil centres. We have three new grounds (outside of Bengaluru) plus in three in Alur (on the outskirts of the State capital). Grounds are developed but infrastructure for that in terms of accommodation and indoor practice facilities will have to be developed. That will be our priority. Second thing will be to develop club house for members, they also need some good facilities. Not only in Bengaluru but across the State. In places like Belagavi, Mysuru and Hubballi, we have Sport Centres which will be upgraded to international standards.
Speaking of that, is it feasible to have international standard stadia when air connectivity and accommodation (five-star hotels) are lacking in those areas?
The places like Hubballi, Mysuru, Belagavi and even Shivamogga... they have all got infrastructure. They all have good accommodation facilities for international players. It’s only the ground accommodation – dressing room, spectator facilities, match officials’ rooms, press boxes, commentary and telecast infrastructure – that has to be looked at. Hubballi and Mysuru have some fantastic hotels plus air connectivity. Davanagere and Belagavi will probably take some time insofar as air connectivity is concerned.
There are some serious issue with regard to alleged corrupt practices in KPL and favouritism in selection of players at the Junior level. How do you handle these two?
Selection, anywhere in the world, is always controversial. You can’t please everyone, there are always some who will have some problem. And selectors’ job is a thankless one and I know that because I have been one. What’s important is when someone gets into that job, he/she got to be honest. And it’s not just one person’s job, we have five different (at the national level) people handling this task. We do tell people to do an honest job, and that’s what we can do. And I think Karnataka have done well across age-groups. We should probably have won more Ranji matches but that’s not a selection issue but rather the players losing it a bit of steam towards the end. They have done well in U-16 and U-19 level and in Vijay Hazare we have U-19 players donning State colours, which has never happened before! I think people tend to take an advantage of these issues and unnecessarily make a story out of it.
Again, none of the players is involved. People are speculating that players are involved because they saw what happened in the IPL and that’s why probably. Report has been that none of the players is involved. It’s only the bookie and the owner who seem to be involved. That’s what we have been told at least.
The bookie also allegedly happens to be the owner of a team... Of course, you have suspended both the owner and the team from the league, but the incident has hurt the image of the league. How do you rectify that and what are the preventive measures going forward?
Yes, for us to keep a check on everything is pretty tough but we try nonetheless. We have anti-corruption unit which sits with players, scorers, support staff to educate them on this malaise. What should be done, what can be done and what can happen (if one is found out involving in corrupt activities). All the briefings are given to each stakeholder. But I agree, such one-off incident does create problems. I mean it has already. People are accusing players of being involved in these things, which is sad. At the end of the day, it reflects on the association. I think we are going to be a little more strict in the future and see that such things didn’t happen. We are as concerned as players.
As someone as clean and non-controversial as you are, this position potentially can put you in some difficult situations where you wouldn’t like to be. Are you prepared for it?
My thing is very simple. When I played - and I played for U-19, 22, Karnataka and then India – it made me happy and proud but that didn’t change me at all. I didn’t become a different person altogether. We were taught that at home, we were brought up that way. I will put my best foot forward, I will not indulge in anything that will disrupt my reputation. I have reputation as a player, and that’s my main thing. I may be an official now, but I am a player first. I have to set an example. That’s how it’s going to be. I mean I can’t live up to everybody’s expectations but as long as my conscience is clean, I have nothing to worry.