Can Jumbo & Babu usher in change without Hari?

PRITHVI DATTA CHANDRA SHOBHI writes: It is said that leading the Indian cricket team is the second hardest job after the Indian prime ministership.

We may add a new truism: being an Indian fast bowler is perhaps the third most difficult job.

Now, that Anil Radhakrishna Kumble and Javagal Chandrashekhar Srinath have won the elections to the Karnataka state cricket association (KSCA) and will be at the helm of cricketing affairs in the State for the next three years, they have, quite possibly, an even more difficult job ahead of them.

Their candidacy excited many reporters and commentators, within and outside Karnataka, who turned into veritable court-poets, often abdicating their day-job as journalists.

Their resounding victory has elicited hyperbole. The Indian Express calls this the “beginning of a new era in the Indian cricket administration“, and Cricinfo’s Sharda Ugra, whose analytical pieces are balanced and insightful, calls Srinath and Kumble as “gamechangers“.

Amidst this rapturous welcoming of M/s Kumble & Co, forgive me, if I sound like a sceptic.

True, Kumble and Srinath have been brilliant performers on the field and, having watched them since their junior cricket days, for over two decades, I have been a great admirer of their skills and accomplishments.

More impressive has been their personal conduct during their playing days, and since then.

It’s on that basis Kumble and Srinath sought the support and trust of KSCA members. These aren’t ordinary cricketers, who demanded that cricketers be put in charge of cricket administration.

Remember Brijesh Patel too had fought an epic battle 12 years ago against the then secretary, C. Nagaraj, against whom Patel had raised a series of corruption charges and promised to clean up cricket administration in Karnataka. In contrast, Kumble and Srinath have staked their character and integrity.

What’s been interesting about the Kumble-Srinath campaign is their message of change.

While they promise to clean up the cricket administration and turn KSCA into a model organization, we haven’t seen any specifics—either on the problems that plague KSCA or on the alternatives they have in mind. In fact, after the elections on Sunday, Kumble promised to study and come up with a blueprint for change.

Given that both Kumble and Srinath, along with their cohorts—B.K. Venkatesh Prasad, Rahul Dravid, Sujith Somasundar, Roger Binny, M.R. Srinivasa Prasad, Vijay Bharadwaj, all of whom have led Karnataka Ranji teams—have been “insiders” in a manner of speaking for decades, holding many official positions within BCCI and KSCA, I find it surprising that they have nothing concrete to say to the press, even after the elections.

What we have seen so far is a ‘campaign for change’ without specifying what that change might look like.

Sadly, our star-struck journalists haven’t asked for specific details.

Here is another interesting thing. Kumble and his team wanted complete control over KSCA. They compelled Brijesh Patel, who controlled KSCA for over a decade, to give up power. They wanted Srikantadatta Wodeyar, the outgoing president, to step aside and accept a new position of patron, which they offered to create for him.

Perhaps it made sense from their perspective to install a new team so that they could do a proper housecleaning.

Yet, troubling questions arise given how they seem to have allowed themselves to become or to be painted as de facto candidates of the Patel camp. We don’t know what promises were made to Patel; any meaningful change in KSCA will actually mean not only changing the policies of the Patel regime but also investigating Patel himself.

Kumble has forcefully asserted that he is his own man but he hasn’t addressed questions of corruption or nepotism that have plagued the Patel regime, too. Moreover, it’s not an entirely new team since there are holdovers from the previous administration like Roger Binny and R. Sudhakar Rao.

For all the paeans to their integrity in the press, I am actually reassured by Kumble & Co’s very competent politicking.

They presented themselves as the agents of change, as cricketers fighting against outsiders. They were brilliant in characterising the Wodeyar team as incumbents, which was entirely inaccurate; in fact, the Kumble team benefited from the support of the incumbents, the Patel faction.

The fact that the Wodeyar team was utterly incompetent in producing a strong response only helped them. I wish A.V. Jayaprakash had said he is no ‘interloping kabaddi player’ seeking the office of KSCA secretary but a former Karnataka captain and a distinguished international umpire.

Moreover, even before the elections, I heard from reliable sources that Srinath had been instructing KSCA staff members, especially on financial matters.

All this is better than being self-righteous because then they are more likely to become saints or martyrs. The virtue and integrity of the righteous aren’t necessarily valuable to run a public institution. Restraint, common sense, humility and a healthy dose of wiliness are.

Kumble and Srinath will need those qualities in abundance if they want to forge partnerships and build KSCA. Otherwise, for all their good intentions, they will accomplish very little.

Are they game changers? Ask me in six months but I suspect not. What ails KSCA, and generally cricket administration in India, is quite complex and is best left for another post.

***

Full disclosure: I must admit a particular bias in writing this article.

My team, the National Cricket Club (NCC), Mysore, which has been part of the Wodeyar group and represented Mysore zone in the managing committee from 2007-10, lost in the KSCA elections.

I have never been an admirer of Wodeyar and I am glad that he lost.

But NCC’s loss saddens me. That’s not just because NCC is my team but its track record in the last three years warrants strong support. I strongly believe Kumble and Srinath should have been proactive in recruiting NCC to be part of their team, especially because they know what NCC has accomplished in the last three years.

NCC’s major accomplishment of course has been organizing six Ranji trophy matches, including a classic finals match in January 2010, and maintaining what has come to be recognized as the best domestic wicket in India. We don’t realize all the work that goes into organizing a Ranji trophy match in a small center.

The members of National Cricket Club and a superb core of volunteers performed wonderfully, from ensuring supply of drinking water to spectators to tea and snacks to KSCA guests and press; erecting stands for the public to arranging internet for the Press, they did it all and in the true spirit of cricket.

All this is well known. Here are some lesser known facts. Nearly 1500 league matches were played. Five new grounds, including in smaller centers like Mandya, Chamarajnagar and Krishnaraja Nagar, were added and league matches are played regularly in all these places. Seventeen new teams were registered in the Mysore zone and al these teams take part in the State league. Distribution of KSCA resources has been equitable and selections to Mysore zone teams were extremely fair, and senior players from all teams were recruited to be part of the selection committees or to accompany the Mysore zone teams as managers. I have followed Mysore zone cricket for over two decades now and I couldn’t have written these two paragraphs about any other administration.

What’s important to recognize is that the core group of NCC are all active, and committed league cricketers: 45-year-old Harikrishna Kumar, who supervised the day to day administration of Mysore zone cricket, was also the leading wicket taker in the 2009-2010 state league.

NCC may have lost this election but Harikrishna Kumar and his friends can be proud of their tenure as KSCA Mysore zone conveners. Congratulations to them on completing a successful three year tenure.

***

Prithvi Datta Chandra Shobhi is on the faculty of San Francisco State University, specialising  in medieval South India (especially Kannada literature and cinema) and the cultural politics of contemporary South Asia.

***

Photograph: Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath on election night, November 21, after the results came out (Karnataka Photo News)

***

Also read: Anil Kumble‘s secret is his un-Kannadiganess

Javagal Srinath: The world’s most famous Mysorean?

A tale of two cities as narrated by a cricket field

Players, patrons and the crowd in the age of IPL

A real workhorse from the land of ‘benne dose

From the Coffee Board end to Hunsur Road end

Finally, it came down to Abhishek Nayar‘s balls

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14 Responses to “Can Jumbo & Babu usher in change without Hari?”

  1. vindy Says:

    Give them a chance and then start baiting them ….they havent even warmed up the seats.

    In case the author didnt see a plan/manifesto, he should have raised the issue prior to elections rather than now shouting from the roof top.

  2. karihaida Says:

    This article gives the impression that Kumble’s administration is going to go after all the clubs that didn’t vote for them :) Other than don’t see any point in this article. Let Kumble and his team do its job.

  3. sarvagna Says:

    Five Attributes of a well-run organization / club/association.
    1. Profitability- Cricket Mysore reaped all benefits under Hari.Good matches,Grounds,umpire remunerations,No of matches for all divisions.
    2. Alignment – Look at his way of conducting matches, 550 plus matches every year ,nobody had done it.he had it in less than three years
    He needed an extension.
    3. Relevancy – Did he meet the current needs of cricket community? yes he did.He had a sports writer,an umpire and a present cricketer as selectors.
    4. Transparency – No influences.Results show,Mysore Zone won U 16,19,22 age group tournments.
    5. Accountability – He can be accountable to those who have invested money and time in cricket Mysore.All were Happy.Except those who never gave him a second oppurtunity.
    For us HARIKRISHNA, you have done an excellent job.
    life is like that!

  4. Khalil Sawant Says:

    Kumble was intedning to stand for Lok-Sabha from Bangalore-North.
    Hope this is the start for the de-politicisation of state level cricket

  5. maisuru Says:

    @ They wanted Srikantadatta Wodeyar, the outgoing president, to step aside and accept a new position of patron, which they offered to create for him….

    Very interesting if it is True ! How audacious for some one who are last in the list of KSCA members to offer a position which is beyond them !

    What do you expect from people who allowed themselves to be sold in an auction as cattle to do ? No self respecting man would allow himself be auctioned. game changers ! Common , They are mere puppets under the sutradar behind the scene – the great king of Good times.

    Great cricketers do not necessarily make great individuals. On the flip side we have likes of Azaruddin who arguably one of the greatest Indian Captains and batsman of all times. Yet, he was ready to compromise the interest of the team for some mega bucks.

    So one fails to understand the what all this gung ho is about !

  6. 'mudi'malnad Says:

    I feel this will herald good times for cricket in karnataka. Both Babu and Kumble are hardcore cricketers[grownup from gulli cricket to this level on their own]. just this passion for cricket enough do some good. They lack the administrative experience and they don’t know how to handle political pressures.
    [PS: officially KSCA now stands for Karnataka ‘smartha’cricket association!]

  7. twistleton Says:

    let’s hope for the best, eh people?

  8. R.Patil Says:

    If past is any indication, nothing would change. As usual, we have the tendency to get all worked up over something. Good cricket player doesn’t mean he is a good leader or administrator. We had seen the same emtional responses from public and media in the past when some actors/journalists jumped into politics. After decades of those silly experiments, India continues to be more corrupt than ever before.

  9. ERR Says:

    Best wishes for the new team:

    In order to succeed, some of the issues to be addressed are;

    1.Cricket needs to be spread around the State.It has become Bangalore- centric, rather too much which is not good. Fresh talent will surface only when you take cricket to the District and taluk level. Srinath and Joshi are examples of that. Ranji Players need not come ONLY from Bangalore Cricketers, BUCC, Friends Union etc.
    2. Most Associations have at leat 4 to 5 International cricket stadia which has helped to stage ODIs and the secondary effect of popularising cricket there. Karnataka for reasons best known, never bothered to have other stadia in the State. Chinnaswami is the only one we have.
    3. Mysore, Mangalore , Hubli / Dharwad are some places they should be able to have good stadia to have at least ODIs.
    4. Kumble and Srinath will have to move around a lot and ‘scout’ talent. This has not been done before.
    5.Next time when an International match is played in Bangalore, make sure they have police Personnel who will take control of the entire area around the stadium and not just the playing pitch!

  10. howzzat Says:

    Thanks to the writer, at last something like this has been out in the public. Otherwise, all are praising this new bunch like they are god-sent.

    Just the way these new guys formed partnership with that betaala of KSCA called Brijesh Patel is enough to show what these international-stature players have come for. Many in the present board are BPs followers, like Venkatesh T, Binny are still on board this time too. So there will be “continuity in policy and ideas”.

    What development did BP bring for Karnataka Cricket, or for that matter Banaglore cricket? This new board too will follow the same trend, and will only look to gain as much personal benefits from their postings as possible..

    ***

    I remember only Vijaya Karnataka among Kannada papers to write something about the nexus between the new and the outgoing factions. None in the English media were in a mood to write about this. Way to go, Kumble and team..

  11. Doddi Buddi Says:

    Actually I am all for bandicoots like Pawar and others running Cricket in India!
    In my life time I would like to see Cricket becoming a minor sport in India:)
    Any one wishing on the same lines?!!

  12. deepak s gowda Says:

    may god bless them, both anil and babu , being a mysorean all i want to ask is what has Mr.Javagal served to the most hyped game in our country after retirement. How many budding cricketers in the city have saluted him? let the game begin ..good luck mysore express

  13. sarvagna Says:

    Deepak,
    You were a good cricketer,Hari’s predessor did nt gave you a chance.I have seen you playing MS Ravindra and others.I understand your wishes to New team.

  14. Dinesh Acharya Says:

    Well said prithvi,
    I have seen and played with hari and privthvi. I agree Harikrishna should be given extension!
    dinesh

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