Lt. Gen Ravindra Thodge has had an illustrious 40-year-long career with the Indian Armed Forces. But, now, he has taken guard in a new field as the third member of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
He wants to bring teamwork – always in focus in the Armed Forces or in cricket – to the CoA, whose work in recent times has suffered because of the difference of opinions between its chairman, Vinod Rai, and the other member, Diana Edulji.
In an interview to Sportstar, Lt. Gen. Thodge spelled out his vision for the CoA and the BCCI.
This is your first stint in cricket administration. How do you perceive your role?
Yes, it’s my first time in cricket (administration), but I have 40 years of experience in the Armed Forces and I don’t think anybody can compete with that. I have been a sportsman and I have organised events when I was in the army. This is not very different. Cricket is a passion in this country, and we have witnessed the changes from Test cricket to the One-Dayers and now to the T20s. We are a force to reckon with as far as cricket is concerned as we are the No.1 team. I am here at the right time. I have been nominated by the Supreme Court and it’s a great honour.
“If there are two members, then there can be two (different) voices. Now with three votes, at least two could be on one side. Everybody has a right to his/her own opinion, but we will take decisions based on the majority. So, there will be no bad blood...There can’t be three different opinions on one issue. There will be a convergence of at least two minds because it’s about taking action.” — Lt. Gen Ravindra Thodge, CoA member
This is a completely different field. Why did you decide to take this assignment?
I am used to challenges. (In armed forces), we would get calls: “You got to do this” and we would always take it up. Taking up challenges is a second nature to us, so it doesn’t really matter. The moment I was conveyed about this, I said: “I am honoured that you considered me. I am taking it up.”
You come at a time when the CoA appears to be a divided house. Will things change now?
If there are two members, then there can be two (different) voices. Now with three votes, at least two could be on one side. Everybody has a right to his/her own opinion, but we will take decisions based on the majority. So, there will be no bad blood. We will work together as a team and the media won’t be able to play one against the other.
READ: Pakistan should be isolated, says Vinod Rai
If there are three members, then at least two, often, will be on one side. Even if it’s not unanimous, it will be 2-1. There can’t be three different opinions on one issue. There will be a convergence of at least two minds because it’s about taking action. One may say, ‘take action’ and the second person may say, ‘don’t’, but if I feel that an action is necessary – even if there are some reservations – my vote will be towards taking an action. I am sure, with our experience, it will be mostly unanimous.
It will be a rich experience as we will interact with so many people. I am looking at it as a great learning experience.
Why do you blame the media? There have been instances when members of the CoA have openly voiced their differences …
Media loves to create a controversy by twisting facts. I am quite clear about it. But I think it will be a good environment to discuss matters and take things forward, learning from each other and honouring each opinion. That’s the way. All three of us are senior people, with experiences in our respective fields.
When the CoA was introduced a couple of years back, the idea was to implement the Lodha Committee recommendations quickly and restore the self-governance model of the BCCI. But things are yet to fall in place. What are the reasons behind this?
The CoA was introduced to implement the Lodha Committee recommendations. We are in the process. I have been briefed and I have also gone through the constitution, so everything has been aligned with the Lodha Committee. The various state associations need to get aligned with the recommendations as well. The focus should not only be on the CoA, it must be on everybody to ensure the implementation of the recommendations in every state association.
When can we expect the BCCI to hold elections for the office bearers?
I won’t hazard a guess. I have just attended one meeting and going for another in New Delhi (on March 7). I can talk after that.
For the first time, the IPL will have no governing council and will be run by the CoA. What will be the challenges?
There will be a few committees, which will help us in conducting the IPL.
Have these committees been finalised?
I won’t comment because I don’t know what was discussed in the earlier meetings. I am attending the next meeting. We will discuss the issues and take it from there. We will talk and decide on the committees, and who will head them.
2019 will also see the general elections. What sort of challenges will that bring, particularly with fixtures?
Election is the biggest IPL (Laughs). I don’t think there will be much challenge. Cricket is quite away from the elections. If there are clash of dates, sudden issues may come up, but once the Election Commission announces the dates for the polls, the CoA will meet and modify the schedule if required. You cannot have a game when there’s voting, and the committee members will look into that and act accordingly.
After the Pulwama terror attack, the BCCI had appealed to the ICC about the players security at the World Cup. They have requested also other Boards to sever ties with ‘terror’ nations. Being a former army personnel, how do you see it?
We discussed it in the last meeting and gave our statement. If we need to change our stance, it must be discussed at the CoA. I wouldn’t like to comment on that. My role in uniform was different. Now, I am part of the CoA, so I will go with the team.
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