Onus of charting path for TN on Rupa’s shoulders
NEW DELHI: IT has been nearly six years since Rupa Gurunath has been to MA Chidambaram Stadium to watch cricket. Ever since the 2013 IPL scandal — which saw her husband Gurunath Meiyappan being banned for life by Lodha panel — she restricted herself to the behind-the-scenes operations of Chennai Super Kings.
On Thursday, Rupa will set foot inside the stadium again to occupy the chair left vacant by father N Srinivasan. Tamil Nadu Cricket Association’s (TNCA) executive committee unanimously backed her to be the new president. She’s the first woman to occupy the post in a BCCI member unit.
Nominations for various posts can be filed on Tuesday and Wednesday, following which the annual general meeting will take place on Thursday. Rupa is expected to be elected unopposed during the AGM, alongside RS Ramasamy (running for the secretary post). If the latter is elected, the Salem District Cricket Association secretary will become the first person hailing from Tamil Nadu’s districts to hold the post.
By choosing his daughter, Srinivasan has retained a firm grip over TNCA, remaining a dominant force when it comes to choosing the next BCCI president and secretary. Rupa will be under the shadow of Srinivasan when she starts her term. But her appointment is also an opportunity to stamp her authority and use her expertise to guide a unit that hasn’t delivered consistent results on the field.
Over the last few years, TNCA has appeared stagnant and in need of fresh ideas. Rupa, if one goes by those who know her at India Cements, doesn’t shy away from responsibility. A graduate from a leading business school in Chennai and the 45-year-old mother of three has been part of the company’s board since September 2007, and took over as whole-time director in 2010.
Over the years, Rupa has been involved in CSK’s operations; always present at introduction events which happen behind closed doors. Known to be soft-spoken, she is apparently media-shy and seldom likes to be a news-maker.
All said and done, this will be a new challenge for Rupa. Other influences notwithstanding, she will have to take important decisions, considering that the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) inquiry report is likely to be out any time soon.
That apart, the men’s team has been a perennial underachiever. Also, after years, TNCA has taken a liking to the districts, and new grounds are on the radar. An active cricketing ecosystem already exists, but it needs direction. A presentation made by former India player WV Raman, that focuses on the grass-root development, has been collecting dust while waiting for approval. Apart from Srinivasan, she will be surrounded by experienced personnel — like Kasi Viswanathan, among others — for help.
Though the perception of her being in her father’s shadows will continue to exist, the challenge to write her own history is in front of Rupa. Time for her to start writing.