For those of us who have known N Srinivasan fairly closely over the years, his re-election unopposed as President of the Indian Cricket Board on Sunday for a third year, only underlined the man’s resolve and self-belief.
It has been a difficult past few months for the top administrator from Chennai following a public outcry after his son-in-law’s alleged involvement as team principal of Chennai Super Kings in the fixing scandal that hit IPL-6.
Hounded by the national media in a country that is quick to portray one as a hero or a villain, NS, as he is referred to in cricketing circles, stood firm, and during those testing times once told this writer, “My hands are clean, that is my strength.”
Having witnessed first-hand the media’s 24-hour vigil outside his Boat Club residence during those turbulent months calling for his resignation as BCCI President on moral grounds, a lesser man would have crumbled under the pressure.
Not NS though. He is a fighter.
It is easy to overlook the man’s contribution to cricket, both regionally and nationally, in the wake of the IPL scandal involving his franchise, but the fact remains that the only reason the owner of India’s cement major took to cricket administration is his undying passion for the game.
And if several top former international cricketers and the state cricket associations from the South stood by him during the AGM, it was solely due to their appreciation of his efforts and his passion for cricket.
Having spent a major part of my career as a sports writer based out of Chennai, I was fortunate to witness NS’s entry into cricket administration, his growth, and the manner he transformed cricket for the better in the state.
He turned the city’s league into one of the best in the country, and it was as a tribute to this that Rahul Dravid, who played in the league during his formative years, turned out for the final two seasons ago post his retirement.
Financial benefits are not restricted to the top division teams alone, it was only after NS took over that lower division clubs were given a full kit every two years, a remarkable gesture considering how expensive cricket equipment is, and Rs 2000 per match as transportation and lunch allowance.
We are talking of 148 clubs in the city league, spread across six divisions, now that is quite something.
His company owns over a dozen clubs in the city league, with three of them in the premier division, and all the cricketers are employed by the firm.
India Cements successfully bid for CSK as a tribute to the city’s passion for cricket. The Chennai franchise is the most decorated team in the league.
As BCCI President, NS played a part in introducing the pension scheme and the one-time payment for former cricketers, offering financial security to players from the era when cricket was not high-paying.
The wait continues for NS, with the Supreme Court set to hear a petition filed by Cricket Association of Bihar against his candidature later on October 7 that will decide if he can take charge.
The outcome, however, cannot take away the fact that the man made a remarkable difference as an Indian cricket administrator.