N. Murali remembers 'internationalist' M.A. Chidambaram

At the inaugural Dr. M.A. Chidambaram Memorial Lecture, N. Murali, Director of Kasturi and Sons Limited, also hoped that the BCCI would implement the Lodha reforms in letter and spirit.

N. Murali, Director, Kasturi and Sons Limited, highlighted the achievements of the magical MAC on a virtual platform on Monday.   -  FILE PHOTO/ Emmanual Yogini

The current office-bearers of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should follow the ideals of the erstwhile industrialist M.A. Chidambaram, who was also a former President of both the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) and the BCCI, said N. Murali, Director, Kasturi and Sons Limited, here on Monday.

He also hoped that the BCCI would implement the Lodha Committee reforms in letter and spirit for the betterment of the sport.

Speaking as the chief guest in the inaugural Dr. M.A. Chidambaram Memorial Lecture, virtually hosted by The Southern India Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI), Murali said: “All is not lost for Indian cricket governance. The Lodha Committee recommendations are wholesome. And though it has taken three years due to the stalling tactics by certain entrenched and vested interests, the Lodha Committee recommendations have been substantially implemented. My fond hope is that the BCCI implements it in letter and spirit. As even now some of the core reforms have sought to be diluted by filing cases in the Supreme Court.”

Murali also highlighted how MAC’s legacy played out in opposite trajectories within the TNCA and BCCI. While in his home turf - TNCA, his successors consolidated on his good work, the story was different in the BCCI where politics and power struggle have largely ruled the roost forcing the intervention of the Supreme Court.

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“In TNCA, his (MAC’s) successors Balu Alaganan, N. Sankar (briefly), A.C. Muthiah and N. Srinivasan consolidated and built upon the foundation laid by MAC. Two of them - Muthiah and Srinivasan - went on to become BCCI Presidents. Srinivasan later also became the ICC Chairman. In the TNCA, he took a lot of new initiatives. He brought about stability in the general body of TNCA which had groupism. It is smoothly running now. However, in the BCCI there has been a fall in governance standards. Opaque functioning, politics and power grab and controversies have been a feature in the BCCI for a while. So much so that the Supreme Court had to intervene,” Murali observed.

The coffers of BCCI have multiplied through sponsorships and TV rights even as governance has slipped badly, Murali said while adding that the silver lining despite all these controversies is that the Indian team continues to perform exceptionally well. “India has produced at the turn of the century icons like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Sourav Ganguly, V.V.S. Laxman, Zaheer Khan, M.S. Dhoni and now Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah. BCCI’s governance has to rise up in quality standards in line with the excellence in performance by the cricketers. Indian cricket deserves no less. World-class cricketers deserve no less. And the large cricketing public deserves no less,” Murali said.

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Murali reiterated that if he is to choose the all-time Administrators XI, he will put MAC at the top and the captain to boot. “There is an obsession with cricket writers and aficionados to choose the all-time best cricket team of a certain era. There are always discussions and debates. But if I were to tweak it a bit to choose the all-time Administrators XI, MAC’s name will be on top and he will be the captain. And others of his era like Z.R. Irani, Fatehsinghrao Gaekwad, S. Sriraman, M. Chinnaswamy and Raj Singh Dungarpur will definitely find a place. I am not even sure if how many of the latter-day administrators could even find a place in it if at all,” Murali said.

MAC, said Murali, had a holistic and macro view of cricket: “He had an international perspective of cricket. In that way, MAC was an internationalist.”

The International Cricket Council’s (ICC) role is to develop cricket all across the cricket playing countries and particularly help the less prosperous cricket boards, Murali insisted. “India has become a financial superpower in world cricket. But it should not flex its muscles that once lead to the formulation of the top-three in ICC with India, Australia, and England getting the most of the revenues. It took an Indian like Shashank Manohar as ICC Chairman to undo it in some ways and restore the balance in the ICC,” Murali said.

Meanwhile former Indian leg-spinner V.V. Kumar spoke about how current spinners have forgotten the art of the parabola. “Now they are imparting more side-spin with round-arm action and are imparting fewer revolutions on the ball. Their focus is more on the containment of runs. The concept of containment of runs is a deterrent to spin bowling,” the 85-year-old veteran said.

Former India leg-spinner V.V. Kumar.   -  FILE PHOTO/STAN RAYAN


Kumar, who was the head coach of the MAC Spin Academy when it was started in 1996, said the Academy helped produce quite a few good spinners and most importantly developed the art of spin bowling.

The MAC Spin Academy earned words of praise from none other than the West Indian great Garry Sobers when he visited the Academy in 1997-98, revealed Kumar.

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