Sunil Gavaskar took over as the interim head of the turmoil-ridden BCCI, in place of the tainted N Srinivasan, and has become overall in charge of the annual Indian Premier League (IPL) beginning next month. It is a hugely challenging task given the shadow falling over the IPL.
Sunil Gavaskar delivers the 2012-13 MAK Pataudi Memorial Lecture at Chennai in 2013
Many experts and cricket followers though think ‘Sunny’ is the right man for the job, “though the corruption allegations and bookie links I think will be handled by the police, it is at another level now,” says Sumedh Shah, Sunil Gavaskar’s former business partner at Professional Management Group (PMG). Shah and Gavaskar were 50:50 partners in the venture that began in 1985, way before sports event management became fashionable.
Shah, who sold his PMG shares in 2007, 22 years after the firm’s inception says, “I was not surprised that Sunil said yes to become interim president. He understands the totality of the game. And, as he himself has said, when the Supreme Court of India tells you to do something, you do not say, no.” They say, working together is a bit like living in, you only truly know a person when you start working with them.
Says Shah: “I used to tell my friends that Sunil is a highly intelligent man. His ability to grasp the subject is tremendous. If not in cricket, he would have been the chairman of a company, such is his business acumen.” Shah adds that though he (Shah) primarily handled administrative matters at the PMG, “Sunil would always be present at meetings when I asked him to, to alleviate an office crisis perhaps. Then, he would also accompany me to Delhi where we had to go and meet the Doordarshan honchos. In 1985, there were no private TV channels and Doordarshan, then, was a tough nut to crack.”
Gavaskar has also temporarily suspended writing his columns as he holds the BCCI post. That was a tie he snapped after 25 years of writing, and Shah recollects, “Sunil was an extremely prolific writer. He would sit down and put down the mandatory word count, wherever in the world he may have been – different time zones, he would ensure that his column reached on time. Whether in the Australia, New Zealand or even the US, he was professional and meticulous about that.”
Shah props up his summing up of Gavaskar as extremely sharp with an anecdote: “I remember we had gone to Kolkata years ago, and Sunny was mobbed at the airport. His organisational instincts took over. He told the people who were clamouring for an autograph to stand in a queue. They queued up and I was sitting next to him. One man, who thought he was too smart, came in twice to take Sunny’s autograph. Though I did not realise that through the hordes of people, Sunny was quick in telling him, “Hey, you have come in again in the queue.” Well, like those weather forecasters say: For Indian cricket, some Sunny days ahead after all that thunder.