‘I am not one to run away from responsibility’

"Individuals matter only to a certain extent, ultimately it is the team effort that counts."-V.V. SUBRAHMANYAM

“I will not do anything that will tarnish the image of cricket or the cricketers,” says Shivlal Yadav, who has been directed by the Supreme Court to oversee the day-to-day affairs of the BCCI, in a chat with V. V. Subrahmanyam.

For someone who came up the hard way, playing cricket in the by-lanes of Hyderabad before going on to don the India colours, Nandlal Shivlal Yadav is not naive to believe that his stint at the helm of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will be rosy. The BCCI vice-president, who has been directed by the Supreme Court to oversee the day-to-day affairs of the Board, says, “It is not going to be easy, but then, I am not the kind of person to run away from any given responsibility.”

So, what exactly are Shivlal’s biggest challenges?

“First and foremost, let me remind everyone that my stint will be for a very brief period, till September 2014 when the BCCI elections will be held and a new set of office-bearers takes over. So, effectively my stint is too short to produce anything dramatic,” says the 57-year-old former India off-spinner.

Shivlal goes on: “At the same time, one thing I can assure everyone in the cricketing world... that I will not do anything that will tarnish the image of cricket or the cricketers. It is never easy to be in the job when allegations such as match-fixing are flying around.

“It is anybody’s guess how a few greedy cricketers and officials can bring disrepute to the game. And it is never easy to completely wipe off corrupt practices like match-fixing. We will try our best to convey a very strong message that these things will not be tolerated at any cost. If any effort has to be made to restore the pride and prestige of the sport, I will not falter.

“Let me be honest. I don’t want to comment on what will be the repercussions of the developments in the BCCI on the ICC’s administrative set-up. My job is to give off my best and thanks to the honourable Supreme Court, I am confident of getting complete support to take care of the day-to-day affairs.

“Yes, having been the BCCI vice-president for six years, I am aware of the responsibilities and the challenges that come with them. And having played for India, I am not new to these kind of things.”

Was it painful for Shivlal to take over the job of someone like N. Srinivasan, with whom he always had a very cordial relationship?

“Yes, to a certain extent. The important thing is that I did not lobby for this. The circumstances have thrust me into this. When the honourable Supreme Court directed me to take charge of the administrative affairs, I felt it a huge honour and privilege. I had no options but to obey it,” explains Shivlal, the first bowler from Hyderabad to take 100 Test wickets (left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha is second).

What will be his top priority during his stint?

“Fortunately, Sunny bhai (Sunil Gavaskar) is taking charge of the high-profile Indian Premier League — again as per the Supreme Court’s directive. So, a huge load is off my shoulder and I can concentrate on cricketing matters,” says Shivlal.

Significantly, Shivlal strongly believes that the BCCI will become stronger and credible after tiding over the current crisis. “In sport, no individual is bigger than the institution. There will be stumbling blocks en route, but we have to find ways and means to justify the faith reposed in us.

“Frankly speaking, no one can suggest two-liners to solve all problems, especially when it relates to cricket which, as many believe, is some kind of a religion in India. However, every effort will be made to keep the faith of the average fan in the sport and the way in which it is run. That is our biggest responsibility now.

“When I say these things, I don’t mean similar efforts were not there before. I will put it this way: whoever becomes the next BCCI chief will naturally try to improve upon what his predecessor did. This is the spirit that keeps the BCCI going. Individuals matter only to a certain extent, ultimately it is the team effort that counts,” Shivlal says.

Talking of his biggest contribution as an administrator, he says, “As far as my tenure as the BCCI vice-president is concerned, it is for the others to say. When it comes to the Hyderabad Cricket Association, in which I held all posts, from EC to Joint Secretary, Secretary and Vice-President, I can proudly say that as long as the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium is there, people will remember me. All those who worked tirelessly with me in that prestigious project know what kind of efforts we put in to realise our dream.”

What about the allegations of misappropriation of funds in the construction of the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium?

“Well, I believe that no one is guilty until proved so. One thing which I can say is that I am in cricket administration not for money.

“Let me tell you, my current job is the last time I will be an administrator. I have decided not to be in the fray for any post — be it in HCA or the BCCI. I will explore options of becoming a coach to stay in touch with the game after September. Let’s see how things shape up,” says Shivlal.

Going down memory lane, Shivlal says when he went to the ‘nets’ under the guidance of the late Eddi Aibara, his aim was only to become a cricketer. “Aibara was considered to be the best coach of his time. And having fine-tuned my cricketing skills under the great names such as M. L. Jaisimha and got the desired support from former HCA secretary P. R. Man Singh and the then BCCI secretary Ghulam Ahmed saab, I know the value of being a cricketer. So, as an administrator I am aware what a cricketer expects from the BCCI,” he explains.

When asked about the three defining moments of his cricket career, Shivlal says: “First, being a member of the team that scored a famous victory against Australia in the 1980 Test. Second, being a member of the Indian team in the ‘Tied’ Test against Australia in Chennai in 1986. In that match, I also hit the only six of my international career. Third, playing my final Test in 1987 against Pakistan, which also happened to be the last one for Sunny bhai.”