Aditya Prakash Verma, secretary of Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB) is a happy man. The whistleblower (he would like to be identified as ‘petitioner’ only though) against corruption in Indian Premier League (IPL) – 2013 IPL match-fixing and betting case, and whose legal battle against former Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) chief N Srinivasan ultimately compelled the latter to step down, has consistently fought to get recognition for Bihar’s cricket association. The Supreme Court’s verdict on Thursday ordered the BCCI, the world’s richest cricket body to allow Bihar play Ranji Trophy and other domestic cricket tournaments. Bihar last played in Ranji Trophy in 2003-04 season.
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 first 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.
Speaking after the SC order to Firstpost, Verma said he wanted to see cricketing talents from Bihar at international level.
What are your sentiments on the Supreme Court order?
I’m thankful to the Supreme Court for this order. This is the best thing that could have happened to Bihar cricket. For quite a long time, our players were deprived of the opportunity to play Ranji Trophy and other national-level tournaments, and were forced to stay in oblivion. Now, the BCCI won’t be able to prevent Bihar from playing. Bihar had been participating in Ranji Trophy tournament since its inception in 1935 till 2003-04. Later, BCCI de-affiliated Bihar’s cricket body as a full member and it was conferred on Jharkhand after the state was carved out of Bihar. Bihar reached Ranji final and ended runners-up in 1975-76.
What was your case all about?
First, it was to get recognition for the board by the BCCI, which the children of Bihar had been deprived of for a long period of time. After three new states were carved out of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhad got BCCI recognition in the name of Bihar, but the parent state was ignored.
What difference is this order going to bring for Bihar’s players?
Despite the state having produced brilliant international cricketers like Ramesh Saxena, Saba Karim, Subroto Banerjee, Randhir Singh, etc in the past, the new generation players had to bear the brunt of dirty politics and injustice from BCCI. Finally, the young talent from Bihar will get to play. They have talent and passion for the sport, and they are going to prove it now. It had been a long-drawn battle for us.
What about the ongoing dispute between your CAB and Lalu Prasad Yadav-controlled Bihar Cricket Association (BCA)?
It’s not a day to talk about who will run Bihar cricket. It’s about the budding cricketers in Bihar who have now got the right to play in Indian cricket circuit. I leave it to Vinod Rai (former CAG, whom Supreme Court appointed as interim president of BCCI). I can say that the current development is not a good news for Amitabh Choudhary, as he has to see how his Jharkhand state cricket association will be named.
Why did former Bihar CM Lalu Prasad Yadav, who was also a cabinet colleague of former BCCI chief Sharad Pawar at the centre, fail to get Bihar’s cricket body recognised?
It was due to his vested interests. It’s a well-known fact how he pushed for his son Tejashwi Yadav to be in the Indian cricket squad for the 2008 ICC U19 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur. Eventually, he didn’t get to play and India went on to win the cup under Virat Kohli’s captaincy. This is why Lalu Prasad compromised, without caring for thousands of young talents of Bihar.
Is there any guarantee that Indian cricket will once again be a ‘gentleman’s game’, as you hope, if Justice Lodha’s recommendations are implemented?
I’ll say it’s not a 100 percent but 1000 percent guarantee that if the SC verdict allows full implementation of Justice Lodha’s recommendations, then cricket in India will get back to being a gentleman’s game. And, if BCCI fails to implement the SC’s orders, its officials would be jailed. The SC’s order can’t be finally ignored.
Right now, my focus is on 16 January hearing in the Supreme Court related to the original IPL spot fixing case. My long term objective is to see Bihar cricket reach greater heights and ensure that the players of Bihar state get opportunities to play world-class cricket because there is no dearth of talent in the state. I’m ready to work with all others, to make Bihar cricket strong.