In proposing that Sunil Gavaskar should take over from N Srinivasan as BCCI president, the Supreme Court on Thursday expressed a surprise choice — since the former opener would be replacing someone whom the court wants removed for a conflict of interest.
Gavaskar, 64, has sprawling business interests in the game, while being a BCCI-contracted commentator. He is the co-founder of Professional Management Group (PMG), a sports marketing agency, which presently manages the off-field affairs of IPL players Virender Sehwag, Varun Aaron and Manoj Tiwary.
PMG conceived the Castrol Awards for Cricketing Excellence, and organises the annual BCCI awards. Back in 1995, Gavaskar was one of the men who introduced the CEAT cricket rankings under the aegis of PMG. There are rewards on offer for cricketers finishing on top of the rankings every year.
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Gavaskar also writes weekly syndicated columns. And PMG handled the IPL-related activities of automobile giant Volkswagen.
Hours after Thursday’s hearing in the court, the retired cricketer announced his willingness to take up the job. “When the highest court of the land tells you to do something, you have to do it,” Gavaskar told NDTV.
A text message sent to him by The Indian Express, asking him if his being at the head of BCCI would result in a conflict of interest, went unanswered.
In 2008, Gavaskar had resigned as chairman of the ICC’s cricket committee after the governing body cited a conflict of interest with his role as a TV commentator.
In 2010, he turned down an offer from BCCI to join the IPL governing council, citing lack of remuneration as the reason. Gavaskar had been part of the governing council in the first three years of the IPL, when each member was paid Rs 1 crore.
“The IPL is a commercial enterprise and non-BCCI members, former cricketers included, should be remunerated for the expertise, experience and time that they bring to the table,” he had said then.
A year later, Gavaskar resigned as head of Mumbai Cricket Association’s (MCA’s) cricket improvement committee. He said he was stretched for time because of his media commitments and the hectic schedule of the Indian team. A few MCA members had then grumbled that Gavaskar, an NRI, did not spend much time in India.
Recently, Gavaskar has been critical of the Indian team’s performance abroad. At the Asia Cup, he alleged on air that there was bias in team selection. He has been scathing on Duncan Fletcher, and has called for the coach’s immediate sacking. For more than two decades, Gavaskar has been the raconteur of Indian cricket, commentating on nearly every match the team has played around the world.
But on the day he was asked to take over the reins of Indian cricket, Gavaskar was in Visakhapatnam, airing his views on the final of the Deodhar Trophy.