We need to be given the respect we deserve
Dadagiri Captain Sourav’s shirtwaving celebration after a thrilling Natwest trophy victory at the Lord’s, 2002, has become cricket legend
Q. Has it sunk in that you now have to lead Indian cricket off the field as well?
A. (Laughs) Yes, it is sinking in slowly. The task is not easy. But it is also an opportunity. Things haven’t been great in the past few years, but, as a team, we have a great chance to do things and regain the confidence of fans over the next few months. It is how you look at it: is the glass half-empty or half-full? I always look at it as half-full. And it’s no different this time around.
Q. You’ve said revamping first-class cricket is a priority. Will you elaborate?
A. I’ve been saying this almost every single day for the past few years. But things haven’t improved much. Hardly anything has been done. First-class cricket is what makes Indian cricket what it is. Talent needs to be honed. People need to have the motivation to play the game. Structures need to be of the very highest standard. Rubbish malpractices like fudging age, for example, have to stop. We need the strongest first-class cricket structure to have a team that dominates world cricket over the years. And that’s what I’ll aim for with the support of my team.
Q. On the field, though, the national team seems to be on a roll
A. For sure. We have made a strong comeback in the aftermath of the World Cup and that’s great to see. We have the team to be world beaters and that’s what the aim is. There is no reason why we can’t be a team like the West Indies under Clive Lloyd or Australia under Steve Waugh. That’s the benchmark. As administrators, that is what we will want the team to do, and will help them in every possible way to get there.
Q. The strained dynamics between the ICC and BCCI is an issue, right? We no longer have a majority in the ICC board.
A. Yes, we need to be given the respect we deserve. We are a strong cricket nation, the strongest, in fact, and that needs to get reflected. We’ll certainly have to address this situation at the earliest.
Q. To have the best people come forward and serve the game, you need to deal with the conflict-of-interest issue. It happens to be in the BCCI constitution, and is legally enforceable. But Indian cricket loses out if men like Rahul Dravid and Kapil Dev cannot serve the game due to a narrow reading of conflict of interest’. [In a final status report submitted to the Supreme Court, the outgoing court-appointed CoA (Committee of Administrators) has recommended an amendment to Rule 38(4) of the BCCI constitution, which, they submit, takes a straitjacketed view of conflict of interest.]
A. I agree. My views on conflict of interest are well known. We need to be realistic and transparent. We need to get the best men to come forward and serve the game. We need to involve them, and to do this, we need to address this issue. Not for once am I saying that we should forget about conflict of interest; all I am saying is let us be more practical and take a realistic view that benefits the game. That will be my aim, and I am confident the legal fraternity and the judiciary will see reason in this suggestion.