Politicians to the fore

The victro and the vanquished in the MCA elections... Vilasrao Deshmukh and Dilip Vengsarkar-PTI

Everyone wants to be in the thick of things at the right time and with cricket currently at its peak, the scramble to grab a piece of action can only get more frenetic. Of course, getting into the administration is the best thing to do and if people can get into the fold as a group, there is nothing better than that.

The recent MCA election has only proved that politicians know how to win elections whereas cricketers know only to contest elections. The result of the high profile election was a clear indication that Mumbai, a city that always put cricket ahead of everything else, has taken a turn wherein the game is not the top priority anymore. It will be premature to state that Deshmukh and Co. are incapable of running the Association and may well end up surprising their detractors in the coming years, but it was rather sad that cricketers en masse were rejected by the voters. Vengsarkar and his colleagues had to take the defeat on the chin and behave like sportsmen are supposed to in the wake of a defeat.

It is not the first time that a cricketer is losing out to a politician and ironically (if I remember right) Vengsarkar was on the other side of the fence when it happened before. But that's how the election dynamics work, but why cricketers are by and large humiliated by the fraternity is a question that needs to be answered. Is it because cricketers can't handle administration or is it because cricketers are thought of as humans with only a one-dimensional ability? The answer lies in the fact that everyone wants to be in the thick of things at the right time and with cricket currently at its peak, the scramble to grab a piece of action can only get more frenetic. Of course, getting into the administration is the best thing to do and especially if people can get into the fold as a group, there is nothing better than that.

I am not saying that cricketers have to be voted on the basis of their cricketing deeds, but if they have put in time and effort like Vengsarkar has, then it is strange for secretaries to ignore his commitment. The “Colonel” may not bag the top award for diplomacy like say a Chandrakant Pandit would, but he has been devoting a lot of time for Mumbai cricket.

The recent happenings in Hyderabad cricket will add substance to the theory that cricket administration is better left to administrators rather than cricketers. But none can lose sight of the fact that Brijesh Patel was definitely a big success along with his cricketing colleagues in his first couple of terms as secretary of the KSCA. Eventually Brijesh had to give way to Kumble and Srinath as a result of ennui catching up on all fronts. The pressure now is on Kumble and Srinath to prove a point and it remains to be seen if they can get an handle on the nuances of administration soon enough. Generally the administrations make it a point to be seen to be doing things rather actually doing what is required and this is one area where cricketers will struggle.

Now that the MCA has chosen to ignore the cricketers, it will be big challenge for Deshmukh and Co. as the standard of cricket has been deteriorating in Mumbai in recent years. The State team knows how to play as a team and win the premier tournament, but there is hardly any hot talent coming through which reflects certain fallacies at the junior level. There had been a lot of talk of improving cricket at the grass root level prior to the election, but a lot of plans fail during the implementation stage. Implementation of plans at the grass root will definitely require the services of former cricketers as the junior level requires people with experience and knowledge of the game. It remains to be seen if the miffed cricketers will forget and forgive the voters in MCA and come back to contribute. Deshmukh, the seasoned politician that he is, has already thrown the ball in Vengsarkar's court by offering him the charge of Mumbai cricket. If Vengsarkar refuses to take up the offer, then it will be easy to bandy him as one who is more interested in power than the welfare of the game. On the other hand, if he takes it up, he is likely to come across hurdles that may hinder him from executing his job. It is a no win situation for Vengsarkar and as such he may take a sabbatical from Mumbai cricket for a while.

The newly elected joint secretaries will have their hands full as they will be in charge of the day to day affairs. They take over from Lalachand Rajput and Hemant Waingankar who were good in handling the cricketing affairs as a result of being cricketers themselves. This is an advantage that Shetty and his colleague don't have which will put them under pressure. One thing is for sure, Mumbai cricket is in for some interesting times and since they have a lot of lost ground to catch up, the office-bearers will really need to get their act together. Only time will tell if the Mumbai cricketing fraternity can muster the objectivity of the past which saw it dominate Indian cricket in a telling manner.