In a rare and exhaustive interview to ESPN-cricinfo, BCCI president N Srinivasan tackles and evades in equal measure a gamut of questions, ranging from the IPL spot-fixing mess, his autocratic nature, and the Board's gag on commentators. Here are the juiciest excerpts.
The recent IPL turmoil: I won't call it tough or difficult. I felt I had been unfairly attacked. Continuous attack on me. As I said somewhere, one particular paper had about 90 pieces written about me, 11-12 editorials, and I was occupying the entire front page for 10-11 days. This has never happened in independent India. Am I worth that much of coverage? I am not that big a businessman. BCCI is not that big.
‘Unfair’ treatment: Unfair because somewhere along the line I think some amount of focus was lost. I had announced clearly that I was not an accused. I had not done anything wrong, and then I stepped aside. And then the BCCI working committee, at a meeting which I did not attend because I had stepped aside, appointed this probe commission. Somehow it got represented as if I [appointed it]. I did not. They appointed the probe commission, and then events followed. Somebody went to court, then it went to Supreme Court etc. So how am I to be blamed for that?
His controlling nature: You must understand this, really. If you talk to members of the BCCI, you will understand very clearly that once I stepped aside, I was away. This meeting was held in Kolkata. The secretary was there, other members were there. I was nowhere to be seen, and neither was I in touch. They appointed the commission, and they followed up and then the report was given. I didn't see the report, I was not present when the report was given. I was hands off. I was out of the picture. I had stepped aside, the BCCI was run by others.
India Cements owning an IPL franchise: That is also before the Supreme Court. AC Muthiah has filed a petition going up and down. That's before the Supreme Court. I can't enter these areas. You have to understand, you are interviewing me at a time when [there are] certain topics I shouldn't speak about.
His cricket links: My background is cricket. India Cements got involved in cricket 50 years ago when there was not a naya paisa for cricketers. We employed cricketers. We ran cricket teams in the league and we continue to do so. Not contracts, actual employment. So that [when] he finishes playing cricket, he works. Now India Cements owns the Chennai Super Kings, it is world known, but it is probably the 14th team we are running. Our interest is not because there is glamour in cricket, my interest is not because of the publicity attached to it. We have been supporting cricket passionately, the whole company is full of cricket enthusiasts, somehow or the other. And for 50 years - this is the second generation, my father was interested and I continued it. So this is where I come from, we enjoy watching the league matches together, so it is [as a] complete
Gag on commentators: We don't censor commentators. This word "censorship" is incorrect. BCCI doesn't tell the commentator, you say this, you cannot say this, and things like that. But if there was an instance and if you were to come to know about it, please feel free to bring to my attention.
Ian Chappell’s statement: He is not employed by us. We have never said anything to him. We are talking about people employed by us. I can't comment on that. You have to ask Star (Sports). BCCI doesn't tell the commentator anything. We produce domestically. BCCI in no way interferes with the freedom of the press. But a commentator should be a commentator, and a journalist should be a journalist.
DRS: Now BCCI's position on DRS is very well-known. I have articulated on this several times. Many commentators in the western world and other geographies have supported DRS and criticised the BCCI. I have taken it. I have not said anything, I have not got upset, I have noticed it. But that doesn't change our view. Our view was logical. And I am very happy to say we stand vindicated.
The South Africa tour: One of the reasons was we felt that we should be [playing] more international cricket in India during our season, and there should be a balance between inbound and outbound tours. And we felt that this year we had very little international cricket [in India], and therefore we needed to supplement it, so we invited the West Indies. This was the thought process. If you look at our calendar, we'll be hosting Australia, then the West Indies, then we are supposed to go to South Africa, then New Zealand, come back and play Asia Cup, play the World Twenty20, come for IPL, go to England.
It was a very long, tough programme, so we also wanted to lessen the strain if possible. Unfortunately there was a lot of media speculation on whether the tour is on etc, and on news emanating from South Africa. We did not make any comment. We did not say anything about this. In fact, until now we have said nothing. But so much has been written, so much been said, things attributed, so how would I summarise it? There are some challenges.
The disparity between Boards: The fact that cricket doesn't evoke the same enthusiasm and response from spectators in all geographies is a matter of concern. There are countries where cricket was so popular once upon a time and now you find empty stadiums. At the ICC level we are looking into this very seriously to see what are the issues that have to be addressed to remedy and set this right.
His legacy: I don't consider myself such a great leader or something to talk about legacies. As long as people realise that our interest was solely cricket, and we worked hard for Indian cricket, and thereby also helped consolidate world cricket, I would be happy.