mid-day's 39th anniversary: Smooth operator of another kind

Jun 29, 2018, 07:35 IST | Clayton Murzello

His failure as a player caused him to take another route to get into cricket operations which has made him an off-field go-to man

mid-day's 39th anniversary: Smooth operator of another kind
In Maroof Fajandar's case, cricket, the sport's loss is cricket administration's gain. Pic/Atul Kamble

Maroof Fajandar, 34
Cricket Operations expert

A Bomb blast in Bangalore forces the Indian Premier League (IPL) Governing Council to shift both the semi-finals of the 2010 edition to Navi Mumbai. Security is beefed up and the men on duty don't allow cutlery to get into the stadium. Maroof Fajandar, the IPL Venue Manager at the DY Patil Sports Stadium gets jittery. It is Fajandar's second year in managing the IPL for DY Patil Sports Stadium.

How can hospitality function if there are no knives and forks, he wonders. He manages to convince a top cop and the kitchen soon has what it needs for the following day's Mumbai Indians v Royal Challengers Bangalore semi-final. Now, he has learnt to take the rough with the smooth and has learnt how to be patient the hard way as an operations man, his last project being the T20 Mumbai League earlier this year.

Fajandar has been a go-to man for managing high profile events for a decade. Cricket Operations features often in his CV, but he is equally smooth at hockey, tennis and badminton events. "I am a failed cricketer," he exclaims with a smile. "I wanted to manage the game. I quit cricket and started off managing events at DY Patil Sports Academy after completing my MBA," says the former medium pacer.

Confidence earned by his efforts in the smooth functioning of DY Patil's T20 tournament and other events helped in getting a grip when it came to bigger events. What bigger than the IPL where he managed the 2008 and 2010 finals! For him, though, being the Mumbai Venue Manager for the 2016 ICC World T20 was bigger than the rest.

With all the on-field excitement, it is easy to ignore what happens off it. "Everyone — from the guys at the top — to the floor sweeper is important in the functioning of the game. At DY Patil, there were times when we had to get ready for back-to-back games and we had 400 housekeeping staff working across two shifts.

"The spectators have to be happy and then obviously, the players," says Fajandar. Undoubtedly, the IPL has enhanced the viewing pleasure of spectators and Fajandar counts himself fortunate to experience that revolution in India. "I worked with top professionals and watching people like Sundar Raman, Dhiraj Malhotra and Prof Ratnakar Shetty handle any kind of situation was inspiring and yes, I was encouraged by Dr Vijay Patil," he says.

An IPL match day means Fajandar is at work at 8 am and won't be done before midnight. Apart from being proficient in venue management, he can manage teams like he did with the England women's outfit that played a series in India recently. He missed the last IPL due to other commitments, but boasts of a fine record of being involved in seven of the 11 editions.

Fajandar is another example of someone who was drawn to cricket when another path was ready, just like it was with former Test bowler Abey Kuruvilla, who Fajandar calls a mentor. Had he not decided to serve as a volunteer for a local tournament in 2005, Cricket Operations would never have been Fajandar's calling. With the cricket calendar getting heavier by the year, Fajandar's proficiency will ensure he does not have to flaunt his IT Engineering degree for another job.

Before I turn 40
I want to Work for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) simply because it is the biggest cricket body in the world.

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