On Thursday afternoon, the administrative limbo, which had plagued the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) was replaced by a sense of urgency. Within hours of the court giving the go-ahead to the Kotla Test, the members were huddled in a lunch-meeting, planning for the final match that was now just a fortnight away. However, the impression of administrative efficiency and uncharacteristic zeal was undermined by the atmosphere outside the room.
A couple of stray dogs loitered in the reception area; on the sofa outside the president’s chamber sat a travel agent with a folder holding unpaid bills running into lakhs; and, in the parking area, a disgruntled DDCA member was threatening to take a swig from a bottle that he said had acid. The sounds of protest from the suicidal man, who wanted one of his wards to be included in the under-16 trials’ list, that was already above 200, would reach the men planning the Test. One of them would go out, diffuse the situation by a promise and return with a smile on face, plus plastic bottle with ‘thinner’ label in hand. “Dramebaaz,” he would say. Everyone around would laugh.
Of late, the DDCA has seen enough drama and several dramebaaz. So much so that the Delhi High Court had appointed retired judge Mukul Mudgal to oversee the arrangements for the match. There is uncertainty about who happens to be in charge. Some time back, president Sneh Bansal quit after he faced allegations of round-tripping a amount of over ` 1 crore. Former opener Chetan Chauhan is the working president but Bansal’s backers say the constitution doesn’t recognise any such interim arrangement. There is talk that a member of executive committee has filed an FIR against Chauhan and treasurer Ravinder Manchanda. Like everything else in the DDCA, this story too has two sides. Manchanda says there is no FIR.
On the day of the court relief, though, the past seems to have forgotten. Bitter rivals are sitting across the table sharing a meal and jokes. An odd accusatory comment is dismissed with laughter. They are talking about the ` 2.5 crore cheque that the BCCI will be posting to them soon. Actually, a few days back, the DDCA had asked for ` 10 crore. It’s not a day to complain. For an association whose coffers have been near-empty for a while, it’s a day to celebrate the return of international cricket, and, of course, cash-flow.
The administrators, who have been organising international cricket for decades, aren’t too worried about the pending clearances. The DDCA still needs an ‘all ok’ from several government agencies, but there is no panic in the voices of the officials.
“Everything will be taken care of. We have done that for years,” says one. To assert his point, he drops a million-dollar line. “Cricket match ke free paas main bahut dum hota hai.”
Meanwhile, Chauhan says tenders would be invited for services including security, tenting, catering for the Test. “We will also set-up various committees which will be in-charge of cricket-related activities for the Test,” Chauhan said.
With justice Mudgal overseeing the functioning of the DDCA in the run-up to the game, the association, though hard-pressed for time, will have to ensure that everything is above board.
“There is very little time left. A few quotations can be called from those who have been doing business with the DDCA before. We hope there will be enough time to call for tenders. For now officials are prepared to put aside the differences so that the match is conducted successfully,” Dinesh Kumar Sharma, joint secretary DDCA, said.
The Delhi HC green signal to host the match has come as a lease of life. The BCCI has been tight-fisted when it came to releasing DDCA’s share of revenue because of the delay in submitting balance sheets, allegations of misappropriation of funds and frozen bank accounts. This has forced the association to reconcile to a hand-to-mouth existence.
Manchanda and Chauhan have been running from pillar to post to ensure that the match is not taken away. “The DDCA welcomes the appointment of justice Mukul Mudgal to oversee the affairs of the association. Hopefully, we will be able to set the DDCA house in order soon,” Manchanda said.
By Thursday evening, CK Khanna, a vice-president of the DDCA and the BCCI, confirmed that the Indian cricket board has issued ` 2.5 crore to the association for conducting the Test match. It was well short of what the association had requested.
But Manchanda was confident that the DDCA would receive enough money to host the Test match without any glitches. “We will appraise the BCCI about how we will spend the ` 2.5 crore and hopefully they will release further money.”
While the officials talk about crores, the travel agent, who has to collect several lakhs as dues from DDCA, is getting restless. Earlier in the day, he had run out of patience and was refusing to book hotel rooms and air tickets for Delhi’s next Ranji Trophy match against Karnataka in Hubli. But like the suicidal man with acid bottle, he too was convinced by the smooth-talking DDCA officials.