How Anurag Thakur worked his way up the cricketing ladder to become the Indian cricket board's 34th president
On September 29 last year, Anurag Thakur the then secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) visited the Palam ground in Delhi. There, he announced that Shashank Manohar was the "consensus candidate" to be the Board president succeeding late Jagmohan Dalmiya. Little did the man or anyone else knew that just over seven months later he would be replacing Manohar in the same chair, but with far more challenges to take on.
BCCI chief Anurag Thakur
Thakur has had a meteoric rise as a cricket administrator although it began on a controversial note at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA). Sixteen years ago, all of 25, he became the youngest president of a state cricket association in the country and managed to find a way to climb up the ladder.
His entry into BCCI was as a national junior selector from 2001-02 to 2004-05 for which he initially didn't possess the apt credentials of having played first-class cricket. So, in November 2000, the HPCA president announced himself as the skipper of Himachal Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy game against Jammu & Kashmir. Thakur's team lost that match with him contributing no runs and two wickets but it did fetch him the tag of a first-class cricketer, giving him the required credentials.
Around this period, Thakur learnt some tricks of the trade from Dalmiya. He was one of Dalmiya's most trusted men in the 2004 Board elections when Dalmiya blocked Sharad Pawar's entry into the BCCI. Later in his career though, Thakur did have more proximity towards the Pawar camp. He was also be part of various BCCI committees, including Indian Premier League (IPL) Governing Council and in September 2011, was elevated to the position of board's joint secretary.
Dream venue, thanks to thakur: Australia's Usman Khawaja at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala on March 18 this year
All this while, this three-time MP from the Hamirpur constituency in Himachal Pradesh and the son of a former chief minister of the state made sure that the cricketing infrastructure at his home state improved by leaps and bounds. Be it coming up with world-class stadium in Dharamsala or at places like Bilaspur, Una, Amtar, Pragati Nagar and Laal Pani Thakur where his efforts attracted attention. "I'm not surprised at his rise, the man has done so much for Himachal cricket and has a vision to go even further," says RS Kapoor, the senior vice- president HPCA who has known Thakur all through his administrative career.
Played his cards well
Coming back to his progress in the BCCI, Thakur shot into limelight when the 2013 IPL spot fixing scandal broke. The then board chief N Srinivasan continued to stick to his post despite the arrest of his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan for being involved in the scandal. At this time, Thakur played his cards well. In fact, it was Thakur who showed the first sign of any opposition to Srinivasan's autocratic ways by demanding action against those who were involved in the scandal in a television interview.
Later, he also refused Srinivasan's offer for a nomination to the BCCI presidency and the requisite support from East Zone to stand against Dalmiya. The Pawar camp managed to retain Thakur as the face of their campaign, and the candidate for the secretary's post which he won, defeating Sanjay Patel by just one vote.
His tenure as secretary made him the Board's face. Be it interacting with the media on various issues (which somehow wasn't the case during for majority of Srinivasan's tenure), getting contract agreements for women cricketers like their male counter parts, helping cricketers from Nepal and Afghanistan to use the facilities in India, Thakur has somehow managed to take more right steps than the wrong ones.