New Delhi: Aditya Prakash Verma, whose legal battle against former BCCI chief, the powerful N Srinivasan, brought skeletons in the cricket board’s cupboard tumbling and finally resulted in decisive moves for wholesale changes in the way the game is
run in the country, is a happy man after the Supreme Court asked BCCI to fall in line with the Lodha committee recommendations.
But the man widely referred to as the original whistleblower won’t call himself one though.
According to him, it’s just the beginning of a new inning in Indian cricket, and the implementation of Justice Lodha Committee’s recommendations would bring a paradigm shift in the ‘gentleman’s game’ that has earned enough infamy.
“I’m just the secretary of the Cricket Association of Bihar and not a whistleblower. My fight against BCCI was to get full-member status for my state in the board. As per the BCCI constitution, the board is supposed to promote cricket in the entire country. But out of 29 states and seven UTs, players from only 20 states get representation. Where do talented youngsters from the rest of the states go to play — Bangladesh, Pakistan or Sri Lanka? This led me to raise the red flag against BCCI and its administrators. Lodha Committee’s recommendations will prove to be a game-changer,” Verma (53), told Firstpost.
“The beginning of the new innings will be from 3 March onwards. It’ll be a new dawn for Indian cricket, the game that’s worshipped almost in each and every house in India. The battle I had taken up will now benefit the cricket bodies of smaller states and their players if Lodha Committee’s recommendations are implemented in true spirit. It’ll benefit North-East states. I can say with conviction that Bihar, which remained in oblivion for 15 years, will now produce players for national senior and junior teams in the next four years. The young talents from slums will get opportunity to play for their states and country,” he said.
He was in the National Capital for the Supreme Court hearing held on 4 February. On the apex court’s setting deadline of 3 March to the BCCI to explain how it intended to implement the recommendations, the latter expressed several technical problems in implementing the recommendations.
“The SC didn’t ask BCCI’s opinion. It has simply asked the body to tell the court on 3 March how it would implement the recommendations. If it can’t, the apex court has mentioned that Lodha panel, comprising the most competent members of legal fraternity, could take over and steer reforms in the board. The BCCI can’t fool the nation any more. It’s time to reform and move ahead,” asserted Verma.
Originally from Chapra district of Bihar, Verma inherited the passion for cricket from his father, who was a businessman and an avid cricket lover. He represented his college and was the only player from his district to have represented Bihar University in the all-India universities meet. To promote cricket, he had organised tournaments in Chapra and later moved to Jamshedpur to work and play for the Tatas.
Verma’s journey to get recognition for his state began in 2007-08 when he visited Mumbai frequently to meet BCCI officials, often to be shooed away.
“When I took Srinivasan head-on, several members including renowned players backed me, supported my cause. But, once Lodha panel came up with its recommendations to clean up the BCCI, these people found themselves at the receiving end. Now they don’t even take my calls because it has hit their interests. To me the real mother of Indian cricket is senior advocate Nalini Chidambaram, who morally supported me and backed my cause, and represented my case strongly,” he mentioned.
Not ready to comment on the ongoing Arun Jaitley versus Arvind Kejriwal row over Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA), he said, “Allegations and counter-allegations are a part of a political war. But, I personally consider Arun Jaitley a good cricket administrator. In 2003-04, when Sharad Pawar unethically gave precedence to Jharkhand over Bihar, the committee led by Jaitley revoked it. It was during Jaitley's time that we produced world-class cricketers like Virendra Sehwag, Virat Kohli and Ashish Nehra who got chance to emerge at the international level. I can see the silver lining now,” Verma said.