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‘I don’t mind IPL being a punching bag. Sometimes it also helps...’

Published : May 8, 2016, 1:03 am IST
Updated : May 8, 2016, 1:03 am IST

The Indian Premier League as well as the Board of Control for Cricket in India have been in the news almost from the inception of the high-profile Twenty20 tournament in 2008.

Rajeev Shukla (Photo: Sondeep Shankar)
 Rajeev Shukla (Photo: Sondeep Shankar)

The Indian Premier League as well as the Board of Control for Cricket in India have been in the news almost from the inception of the high-profile Twenty20 tournament in 2008. Allegations have flown thick and fast around the annual event, so much so that it had to be played overseas twice in its eight years of existence, while the board too has been under fire for letting matters drift to the point that the Supreme Court had to step in and force sweeping reforms. IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla, who has a somewhat unique place in Indian cricket’s scheme of things, spoke to Rahul Banerji at length about the tournament, the board and the need for reform.

Do you feel the IPL — because of its high profile — has become an easy target in the light of what has happened in the recent past, like in Maharashtra for example We really don’t mind the IPL being targeted because if you are too big a league, heavily popular and a global brand, then obviously people will go after you. And then there is bashing also. We have to live with that, fight it out. I don’t mind the IPL being a punching bag. Sometimes it also helps you. In order to correct yourself, you know.

In the light of what happened just as the tournament started this year, is there a threat to the IPL’s existence in the long run Moving matches at the last minute is definitely a problem as it is a cumbersome job to shift games from one venue to another. It is troublesome as equipments have to be relocated and there are many other logistical issues. But sometimes it becomes a compulsion, like you know, after the Bombay high court order. But I don’t think there is a threat to the IPL itself.

BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur recently suggested moving the IPL overseas if it continues to be targeted. Should a domestic event be played outside India Honorary secretary’s comment was right because anybody can get frustrated in such a situation. This time, we had to shift matches because of a water crisis in Maharashtra. People of particular countries cannot play in certain cities because you don’t let them play. So many issues keep coming up. The IPL has the experience of being organised overseas twice and was successful both times since it is very smooth to run the tournament outside India. But currently we are focusing on IPL-9 in India. We want the matches to be played in India. Personally, I would like to have it in India unless we are forced to take it out due to factors that are not in our control.

Negative public perceptions about the IPL and the BCCI have grown of late and cricket’s administrators are in the Supreme Court. Do you see the BCCI having to follow the court’s orders in full The honourable Supreme Court is hearing the matter. They have constituted the Lodha panel. We want to implement 80 per cent of the suggestions (made by the Lodha committee). But at the same time, there are certain suggestions and recommendations that are impractical. For example, advertisement loss. If we implement that it will make the BCCI the poorest sports body in the world. The strength of the BCCI will go down. Similarly, the membership clause. There are certain states that cannot produce even 12 Ranji Trophy players, but they get full status as members. There are other board members who have built cricket in India for the past 75 years and are thrown out, while others are inducted. This will definitely create an imbalance. We are putting forward our point of view in front of the court and it is up to them to decide what can and cannot be done.

But what about transparency in the BCCI The board has already initiated many measures to be transparent. We have appointed a CEO, a CFO and are taking other steps to ensure maximum transparency. Everything is now put up on our website. Whoever says the BCCI is doing nothing is wrong. We hold 55,000 matches a year, pay pensions to our senior cricketers and have built cricket infrastructure all over India. Thousands and thousands of players are being benefited.

There is still a perception that further reform is needed in the BCCI and the IPL. Reforms are necessary. We are happy that the Supreme Court has initiated the process of reform in the board. We welcome reforms, whether it is in the BCCI or the Medical Council of India. It should extend everywhere. I urge the court to initiate reforms in the judiciary as well. It is my humble request to the Supreme Court.

A recent observation made by the Supreme Court suggested that Jagmohan Dalmiya was elected president in place of N. Srinivasan, but could not function fully, could not even communicate. It is like a cosy club where only a few come to power again and again. Your comments. The BCCI was the first sports body in India to put a cap on an office bearer’s terms, if you remember. No president has got more than three years (per zone). The two-term clause came much later, before that there was only one term per office-bearer. As far as Dalmiya is concerned, he was in good health when he was elected. He was active and present in all the board meetings. Everything was fine. He chaired meetings and had his say on issues. Later on, his condition deteriorated. How can we pre-judge a person about his health It can happen to anyone.

And finally, what does the BCCI propose to do with Rahul Dravid Is there a chance of him taking over as national coach since he has done so well with the junior and India A teams, and now the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL Dravid is doing fine in his new role; he is a valuable asset for the future and has preformed extremely well as coach of India A, the national Under-18 team also. But the call on his appointment as coach of the Indian cricket team has to be taken by the advisory committee comprising of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and V.V.S. Laxman. He (Dravid) is in the scheme of things after Ravi Shastri’s term ended with the International Cricket Council World Twenty20. But it is up to these three, to recommend a name to the working committee. There is plenty of time before the Zimbabwe tour for this decision.