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By Sunil Gavaskar
The nomination of David Richardson to be the next CEO of ICC is wonderful news for the game. For the first time the ICC is going to be administered by a former international cricketer. There have been former internationals as the Presidents of the ICC board like Colin Cowdrey and Clyde Walcott but it will be the first time the game will be adminsitered on a day to day basis by a former Test player.
Richardson has been associated with the ICC as the General Manager and so knows the working of the ICC inside out. As General Manager he attends the meetings of not just the Executive Board but also the Chief Executives who actually run the game in their countries and so is well versed in dealing with them. He will bring a cricketing perspective to the deliberartions as well as understand the pulls and pressures of running a board.
As Chairman of the Cricket Committee I have attended quite a few meetings of the ICC and what has been seen is that even former cricketers who become Chief Executives of their countries boards are under pressure to show a heathy bottom line and so take calls which may not always be player friendly. Just one example of this is the issue of prize money for the winners of the World Cup. When the topic of the prize money for the 2007 World Cup came up, there were former cricketers turned Executives who were not happy at increasing the prize money as it would cut into the share that their country would get for the participation in the world cup. When it was pointed out that the prize money cannot be as it was four years earlier, the argument was that it was too much anyway and the players should be happy with what they are getting. Eventually better sense prevailed and it was decided to increase the prize money but unlike in 2003 when even the team that lost the earlier rounds got some prize money it was decided that only the winning team in the earlier rounds would get the money and the amounts saved would go to increase the prize money for the 2007 world cup.
David Richardson will be well aware of this pressure on the CEOs and having seen it will be in a better position to deal with it. He will have sympathy for the administartors even as he looks to protect the interests and welfare of the playing fraternity of which he is a life member.
As one former international cricketer gets ready to take over a new demanding assignemnt so also will there be a new responsibility for Sourav Ganguly after the franchise owner made it clear in a TV interview that 'Dada' wont be playing next year but will continue to be a mentor of the Pune Warriors team. Whether 'Dada' gets to play any of the remaining games for the Pune team remains to be seen, but it was not the kind of finish that he was looking for. He was not picked up by the KKR nor by even the Pune team in the auction last year and came in only when Ashish Nehra was declared unfit after fracturing his hand in the semi-finals of the World Cup.
It is not easy to come to competitive cricket after a gap even when a player is in his twenties and it is much harder to do so when nearing 40. Look at how Tendulkar struggled in the early part of the tour to England last year after he took a break from the tour to West Indies. Even though the break was only a few weeks, the fact that he was out of competitve cricket meant that he was not at his best for a fairly long time. Have we not seen batsmen who begin fluently losing their rhythm when kept away from the strike at the other end. So if it can happen then, it is quite easy to lose touch and form when one is out of competitive cricket. Dada thus struggled to make a mark in the last years IPL and this year too despite getting a couple of attractive thirties he was quite clearly not batting at his best. This development coming towards the end of the campaign for Pune is not the best one for Dada but that is how this game can be. It can make the best look ordinary and the ordinary look great. It was not the ending that Dada was looking for but then that is how life can be.
He still has plenty of contribution to make to the game. He is the Chairman of the BCCI Technical Committee, he is a commentator. He is still playing for Bengal in the Ranji Trophy but maybe he will stop that now that he is not going to play next years IPL. He therefore has to move on to the next phase of his career and there is heaps that he can contribute to Bengal, Indian and international cricket.