Calcutta: Post-retirement, Sunil Gavaskar has been making the biggest headlines every 10 years: 1994, 2004, 2014.
Exactly 20 years ago, Gavaskar, who was in Sharjah on a media assignment, had to stand-in for cricket manager Ajit Wadekar, when he suffered a mild heart attack during the Austral-Asia Cup.
To no one’s surprise, there was straightaway more attention on Gavaskar than on captain Mohammed Azharuddin or Sachin Tendulkar.
This Reporter recalls two changes introduced by Gavaskar. (A) Making the batsmen alternate between nets exclusively manned by pacers and spinners; (B) Making the fielding drills more challenging and less boring.
In 2004, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) appointed Gavaskar as batting consultant. The initiative had been taken by Sourav Ganguly, the captain at that point in time.
Coach John Wright wasn’t enthusiastic, after all his space shrunk in the dressing room, but he didn’t dare oppose a Sourav nominee. That too Gavaskar, a legend.
Ten years later, on Friday, the Supreme Court chose Gavaskar “to function as and exercise the powers of the president of the BCCI in relation to IPL 2014...”
It’s an interim arrangement, of course, but huge nevertheless.
Clearly, whenever there’s a crisis (Sharjah and now) or there’s an issue to address (like in 2004, after the Champions Trophy debacle), Gavaskar has been the one to fall back on.
Simply dial Little Master I.
On his latest role, Gavaskar emailed The Telegraph: “I am deeply humbled and honoured that the honourable Supreme Court of India has entrusted me with the job of being the interim president of the BCCI till the end of IPL 7. Like with my cricket, I will give it my best shot.”
One can’t blame Gavaskar for a technical error, as the order of Justices Ananga Kumar Patnaik and Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla was uploaded rather late.
Gavaskar’s the interim president only with regard to IPL matters. All other functions are to be discharged by Shivlal Yadav, who made his India debut under Gavaskar.
However, the interim order has been inconsistent in describing Gavaskar’s role.
Actually, it would have been better had the Supreme Court named an interim president having the powers to deal with all issues.
One shouldn’t expect too much from this arrangement.
That Shivlal has been known to back the BCCI’s ‘suspended’ president, Narayanswamy Srinivasan, is already being talked about rather openly.
For the BCCI, Gavaskar’s an outsider, but not Shivlal. It’s the latter who has been given more responsibility.
Unlike in 1994 and in 2004, Gavaskar has wide-ranging powers, though.
Included is the authority to decide whether Sundar Raman, Srinivasan’s closest lieutenant and the IPL’s chief operating officer, should continue.
Raman was appointed by Lalit Kumar Modi, but his ouster didn’t hurt him in any way. In fact, in the past four years, his powers have grown much beyond the IPL.
Typically, within the BCCI, nobody has asked questions. Why? Because of Raman’s proximity to Srinivasan.
Getting back to Gavaskar, the Supreme Court’s interim order states: “In case of any difficulty, Mr Gavaskar may apply to this Court for appropriate orders.”
To ensure there’s no conflict of interest, Gavaskar can’t work as a commentator during the period he’s the boss in relation to IPL matters, but he will be “compensated” for the loss of income.
As a commentator, Gavaskar has been watching every move of the Mahendra Singh Dhonis. Now, the world would be scrutinising every move of his over the next few weeks/ months.
But trust Gavaskar, who has left for Dubai on a trip planned before the fast-paced developments, to have bat absolutely close to pad.