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As Another Former Cricketer Heads BCCI, Unfulfilled Promises Beckon Roger Binny

Roger Binny has taken over as the new BCCI President.

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Frances Edmonds, British writer and outspoken wife of former England left-arm spinner Phil Edmonds, said once of David Gower, “If he were any more laidback, he’d be comatose.”

In an oblique sort of way, the same can be said of Roger Binny, the Karnataka all-rounder who assumed charge as the 36th president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India on Tuesday afternoon. Binny isn’t as flamboyant as the former England captain who Edmonds was alluding to, but he is every bit as relaxed and unselfconscious, traits that should stand him in great stead in his newest assignment.

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Roger Binny has taken over as the new BCCI President.

BCCI President Roger Binny with Secretary Jay Shah, Vice President Rajeev Shukla, Treasurer Ashish Shelar and other office bearers during the 91st Annual General Meeting, in Mumbai, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022.

(Photo: PTI)

A somewhat left field but deserved choice to succeed the colourful Sourav Ganguly, Binny couldn’t be any more different from his predecessor. Ganguly loves the limelight, Binny is at home in the forests of Bandipur, with wife Cynthia and his three dogs for company. Ganguly enjoys seeing his name in print and his face on television, Binny prefers anonymity and privacy.

When I ran into him the other day at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, I said to him, only half in jest, that once he became the BCCI president, he could no longer afford to travel by the Bengaluru Metro to avoid the infamous traffic of this IT capital. He shot back immediately, “No way, convenience of travel is more important. In any case, once I don my mask, nobody recognises me.”

Binny is a master at underselling himself. He loves flying so far under the radar that it’s easy to forget that he has a string of impressive accomplishments under his belt, not least the status of the leading wicket-taker during India’s triumphant 1983 World Cup campaign.

A key member of the Indian side that wore the World Championship of Cricket crown in Australia in 1985, Binny coached Mohammad Kaif’s Under-19 team to the World Cup title in 2000, was involved with the Asian Cricket Council for nearly a half-dozen years, served as vice-president of the Karnataka State Cricket Association and, until Tuesday, had been the president of the KSCA for the last three years.

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Roger Binny has taken over as the new BCCI President.

Former Indian all-rounder Roger Binny has been elected as the new president of the BCCI.

(Photo: PTI)

Unimpeachable Integrity

Affable, genial, well-liked and immensely respected, Binny carries the justifiable reputation of being a man of great integrity and uprightness. When he was a national selector and his son Stuart’s name came up for discussion, Binny would recuse himself from the deliberations. He needn’t have, because the selection panel had four other members too, but he felt it was the right thing to do so that the other selectors could air their opinions about Stuart freely without having to worry about offending the father.

It is precisely this unshakable sense of right that Binny will bring to the presidentship of the BCCI. Agreed, the Supreme Court verdict of last month has furthered strengthened the hand of the board secretary – Jay Shah, in this instance – and it may be construed that the president’s post is only a nominal one, but with the powers that be deciding that a former cricketer had to be at the helm, it’s unlikely that they will not use his expertise from a cricketing standpoint.

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Roger Binny has taken over as the new BCCI President.

Sourav Ganguly president over his final AGM, alonside Secretary Jay Shah, Vice President Rajeev Shukla and other office bearers during the 91st Annual General Meeting, in Mumbai.

(Photo: PTI)

Ganguly taking charge in 2019 had been accompanied by a groundswell of optimism. He was the first former captain to lead the BCCI in a long time – Sunil Gavaskar served briefly in that capacity during IPL 2014 upon the insistence of the Supreme Court – and the consensus was that, given his stature and his reputation, he would do right by the sport.

Within a few months of becoming the president, came his first challenge. The coronavirus pandemic brought cricketing activities to a halt, as it did most of life as we knew it, and all eyes were on the former captain, who made loud proclamations about compensating the players and others associated with the sport who had been deprived of their livelihoods, but steadfastly didn’t put the money on the table for the players, for over a year.

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Roger Binny has taken over as the new BCCI President.

Mumbai: Newly elected BCCI President Roger Binny with Secretary Jay Shah and Vice President Rajeev Shukla during the 91st Annual General Meeting, in Mumbai, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022.

(Photo: BCCI)

Unfulfilled Promises Beckon

Promises of improving the lot of domestic cricketers, of introducing a contract system at the state level and furthering the cause of women’s and grassroots cricket have remained largely unfulfilled. It is against this backdrop that Binny comes into the picture, with goodwill, support and backing of his allies.

As president of the KSCA for the last three years, Binny has largely been content to go with the flow, though in his last few months, he became increasingly assertive and held coaches and selectors accountable for the dipping fortunes of the state sides across age-groups. At the national level, he won’t ruffle feathers, that’s for sure, but those who think he will just play along and serve out his term in a ceremonial capacity are in for a rude shock.

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Binny hasn’t clamoured for attention or office and so comes with a clean slate. He is 67, therefore when he finishes this term, he will no longer be eligible for another stint at administration. All of this means he doesn’t need to toe the line of compromise.

True, there is only so much he can do because bureaucracy and red-tapism are bound to come in the way, but if there is a lack of progress, it won’t be for want of trying.

His immediate priority will be to get the Women’s IPL up and running successfully. The clamour for the WIPL has grown by the day and the BCCI has identified a March debut for the franchise model driven T20 tournament which will give India’s women cricketers greater exposure and further elevate the standing of the sport. It won’t be lost on the seasoned and suave Binny that the first edition must make an impact, and given his experience and expertise, he will leave no stone unturned towards that end.

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Already, there has been an increase in the remuneration for domestic cricketers, but several state associations need to put their houses in order, with allegations of corruption running rampant. As president, it will be incumbent on Binny to ensure clean governance in the company of Shah, who has won as many admirers for his cricket-first approach as he has attracted detractors who point to his desire to stay on in power.

(R Kaushik is a Bengaluru-based freelance cricket writer with more than three decades of experience and 100 Test matches under his belt. He is the co-author of VVS Laxman's autobiography, 281 and Beyond, as well as GR Vishwanath's autobiography, Wrist Assured.)

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Topics:  BCCI   Roger Binny 

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