CHENNAI: There is another son of a famous father in Indian cricket administration. Earlier this month, Avishek Dalmiya became president of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB). The late Jagmohan Dalmiya had a distinguished career as official occupying that chair. In a chat with this newspaper, Avishek talks about his way and how he handles expectations. Excerpts...
Youngest president of CAB at 38. Is it an achievement or challenge?
The top post in a premier organisation is about responsibilities. It’s also an opportunity to prove yourself. Being a former CAB secretary, I’m aware of issues that need attention. There were plans that couldn’t be executed due to non availability of BCCI funds. That phase is over. We can get on with developmental programmes. The indoor practice facility should be functional by March. We’ll start an age-verification cell for junior cricket. A code of conduct will come into effect. A road map for various age groups will be drawn in consultation with former international cricketers who have become part of the association under the new constitution. Most important, we want the Ranji Trophy. Our junior and women’s teams have won titles. We want to see our senior men’s team win trophies.
What are the pressures of being a famous father’s son in the same walk of life?
There’s a lot of responsibility associated with the position. If I start thinking of what my father achieved or what his stature was, I’d overburden myself. There are two global events in India in 2021 and 2023. My father had attended the ICC meeting as interim BCCI president in 2013 when this tournament cycle was approved. The stadium needs renovation in certain parts. You’ll see an Eden Gardens with better facilities in the coming years. I want to do these things instead burdening myself thinking whose shoes I’m in.
Can you describe the experience when you first sat on his chair of CAB president?
It was a nostalgic moment, I’ve to admit. A lot of memories are associated with this post. I saw how passionate my father was and how he worked tirelessly when handling important matters. Being humans, we’ve emotions and sitting on that chair for the first time was a very different kind of happiness. And of course, I was missing my father.
Sons and daughters of former presidents are occupying those positions in several associations. In certain quarters, it’s perceived as the association becoming a family affair. Your take?
What we have now is a democratic structure approved by a committee appointed by the apex court. There are restrictions like tenure cap and cooling-off breaks. It’s an open system with checks and balances. Cricketers are part of the associations and heading them in some places. So it’s not as if the players are not heard. At the end of the day, it’s a democratic process where the majority’s views are upheld. The system also makes sure that nobody in these roles survive without performing.
After nearly six years of uncertainty, do you think cricket administration in India needs an image makeover?
You’ve to be honest and look honest as well, especially when in charge of an association performing public functions. The structure we have now has professionals in management. A lot of thrust is on conflict of interest, transparency and accountability. Also, because of the tenure cap, there’s less time to perform. So everybody will be in a hurry to do something that people notice. When you do that and address the concerns of cricketers, there’s bound to be betterment of cricket.
There are about 22 months before you go on a cooling-off break. What happens to long-term plans in a short period of time?
Cricket on and off the field is a team game. There are others in the current set-up who’ll be around for longer. The policies we framed will be there. In the period that I’ve been here, we’ve made a list of things to be done. New officials will take that forward. We’ve listed the requirements of Bengal cricket. It’s a short period. But if we remain focussed, a lot can be achieved.