RETICENT IS the word that many use to describe the largely incommunicado BCCI president Shashank Manohar. He doesn’t carry a phone and rarely uses email. But a couple of days ago, it was announced that Manohar would be on Facebook addressing to the queries of fans. It opened the floodgates, Manohar received more than 5,000 questions that can be categorised as curious, complaining and comical. Some wanted answers on sticky cricketing issues, others ranted on team selection while there were also those who wanted to know: Why did Katappa kill Bahubali?
Luckily, Manohar had to option of choosing the questions he answered. Unlike the recent interview where he expressed his opposition to ICC’s Big Three financial arrangement, the BCCI president played straight in the V. On ICC’s move to term the Nagpur pitch as “poor”, Manohar says the board will abide by the decision taken by the ICC, but insisted the match referee’s inference was subjective. “In Nagpur, the match referee held there was excessive spin and uneven bounce on the third day. Now, that decision is subjective. Having said that, the ICC, which is the supreme body, has taken the decision and we abide by it,” he says.
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Manohar also backed the World T20 itinerary. It was alleged that his home town Nagpur and that of secretary Anurag Thakur, Dharamsala, got most games. He adds: “On paper, there may be more matches allotted to Nagpur and Dharamsala, but the matches have been equally distributed as far as the main draw is concerned. The matches in these two venues are essentially the qualifiers: Oman, Afghanistan, Ireland and Scotland and Hong Kong are playing for the two spots. Because of cost constraints, the ICC decided to hold these qualifiers in these two venues. I think it is an equal and even distribution of venues.”
Like all his predecessors, Manohar echoed BCCI’s stance on DRS, saying the only contentious issue with the system was the LBW decision. The BCCI chief also defended the rank turners that were on offer at the recently concluded four Test-match series between India and South Africa, saying it was not possible to prepare fast, bouncy wickets, similar to the ones in Australia and South Africa because of the inherent difference in the nature of soil and atmospheric conditions. The way forward, according to him was to conduct more India A and U-19 tours to get them acclimatized at a much younger age. He termed the the resumption of the Indo-Pak cricket series a “complex issue”, one which is not solely dependent on the two board alone.
The live interactive session lasted about 20 minutes, in which the BCCI chief answered more than 20 questions. However, the overwhelming response from the respondents may have taken Manohar and his team, a little off guard. Moments after the video was uploaded on Facebook, the page was inundated by comments from the highly opinionated fans. The responses from the fans varied from the bizarre to the cheeky. “Why is Yuvi not playing the ODIs against Australia?” asks a respondent.
While Yuvraj Singh remained the overwhelming favourite, SS Rajamouli’s record smashing hit Bahubali too found an honourable mention. Die-hard Raina fans too chipped in, venting their ire after their hero got the axe from the ODI team touring Australia. Perhaps the two best comments were regarding old guards Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, clearly illustrating the duo’s popularity has not waned. “Sir, when will dada (Ganguly) replace you as the BCCI chief?” While another respondent batted for the appointment of Dravid as the coach of the national team.