The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Heard: Just who is this Mahendra'
- Barring Sachin & Sourav, few cricketers know the new BCCI chief

Calcutta, Oct. 2: Thanks to litigation, technically, Ranbir Singh Mahendra is the board's president-elect.

Yet, that didn't stop secretary S.K.Nair from seeking his (and not Jagmohan Dalmiya's) approval before announcing the Team India XV for the first two Tests against Australia. Such clearance is mandatory.

So far so good.

Problem is hardly any of the current national cricketers know Mahendra!

'How is this new person' I haven't ever met him and, to my mind, few others have' remarked one of the seniors, when The Telegraph contacted him for something quite different this afternoon.

It was a polite way of asking: Just who is this Mahendra'

Except perhaps the north zone players, only captain Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar have interacted with Mahendra in an official capacity: They are survivors from the squad which toured Australia in 1991-92, when the Haryana man was manager.

Sachin may have pleasant memories, but Sourav returned disillusioned and didn't hide his feelings.

In fact, there was a time when Dalmiya himself couldn't stand the sight of Mahendra. In recent years, though, that allergy disappeared. So much so that Mahendra edged past Sharad Pawar on Dalmiya's casting vote.

To return to the senior, he appeared to mirror the sentiments of every Team India player when he expressed 'unhappiness' over what went on at the board's AGM in the city this week.

'Our priority was the (India Senior-India A) match in Bangalore but, in the evenings, quite a few of us did make it a point to watch television and catch up on all the (AGM-related) drama' The level of politicking left us aghast,' he added.

The senior continued: 'We have respected Mr Dalmiya as an administrator and have appreciated many of the steps taken' However, it's disappointing that he hasn't made the board's functioning professional' The way cricket is run in Australia or England is remarkable and it's time our people put something similar in place' That's the way forward.'

He didn't say so in as many words, but suggested the players had a question which must be answered by the Dalmiyas and Mahendras: Why aren't the board officials, some of whom have been around for decades, held accountable'

The accountability bit, though, is going to come when the set-up is professional and not driven either by pseudo or full-fledged politicians.

Incidentally, the senior laughed when his attention was drawn to the national cricket body's contention (in the Supreme Court) that the players turned out for the board and not India.

'To me, that sounds a bit crazy' But, then, a lot of crazy things have been happening,' he quipped.

Returning to Mahendra, who has functioned as the board's secretary and vice-president, it won't be a bad idea if he flies to Bangalore before the first Test (beginning on Wednesday) and chats with the players over a cup of tea.

It will be a nice way of introducing himself.

Footnote: In the late Nineties, Kapil Dev had questioned the way Mahendra 'controlled' the Haryana association. After a while, however, India's World Cup-winning captain went quiet'

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