IND v NZ: Green Park venue director Sanjay Kapoor wants a ‘memorable’ Test

Sanjay Kapoor, who is also the president of the All India Chess Federation, believes the Green Park stadium has its own heritage that separates it from other new stadia in Uttar Pradesh.

Preparations on at Green Park, Kanpur, on Monday, ahead of the first Test between India and New Zealand. - PTI

Sanjay Kapoor is a trifle embarrassed when reminded that he has something in common with one of the most powerful administrators in Indian cricket, N. Srinivasan.

“Please don't compare me with N. Srinivasan sir. He has built a legacy and I am just starting off,” he says.

Kapoor, who is BCCI’s appointed venue director for the first Test between India and New Zealand at Green Park, Kanpur, has a bigger identity in the Indian sporting field. The multi-millionaire businessman from Kanpur is currently the president of All India Chess Federation (AICF) just like the former BCCI president, who headed the organisation back in 2007 when he was also the treasurer of cricket board.

Kapoor is currently the president of the Kanpur Cricket Association (KCA) and wants Green Park to host a “memorable Test match.”

“Right now, my only aim is to see that we give all stake-holders all the facilities needed to have a memorable Test match, which matches the history of this iconic venue. I have taken over as Venue Director for past 10-12 days and in my decade long association with Green Park, we have been able to ring in changes,” Kapoor said.

‘Sense of nostalgia’

Uttar Pradesh now has a stadium in Lucknow (Ekana Stadium) where IPL matches will be held regularly from next season. Doesn’t it push a ground like Green Park behind? “Green Park has a heritage. Heritage comes with history and thus legacy is created. New technology can be built, new stadiums can be constructed but heritage has its own place, own feel, own charisma. That’s unmatchable and Green Park is an iconic stadium and there is a sense of nostalgia in the blades of grass,” Kapoor said about the ground where India won its first ever Test match in 1959.

“Your passion for the game that drives you and I believe that if you want to do something good, you can,” said the 45-year-old administrator who has a chain of educational institutions across the city.

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Having been associated with cricket has given Kapoor an idea that even chess could be commercialised. “I have a responsibility of running chess in India and that’s a bigger responsibility. I will change the face of chess in these three years,” he said.

Kapoor has had some conversations with the iconic Viswanathan Anand but for him it’s important to be a players’ man. “I talk to Vishy Anand from time to time but primarily when it comes to handling of players, the AICF secretary does the job. I always try to keep in touch with all the players and everybody has my number now. They can call me anytime.”

So what can chess take away from cricket? Kapoor feels that the franchise model that can be used to commercialise and help the players earn more money from the game. “We are trying to create a franchise model for the game in the country just like IPL. I think it will be rolling by summer next year. Indian Chess League. Everything will be done and it’s on course,” he said.

So like Srinivasan, are there any bigger ambitions for a broader role in BCCI in the coming days? He laughs.

“Till I am doing chess, I can’t be a BCCI office-bearer and now I want to help chess reach its position. In cricket, my focus as venue director is this match only. And what future holds in store, I can’t predict as I am not God,” he concluded.

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