MUMBAI: Reform is an interesting word. It means changes, more often than not it is made to cleanse or create an impression. The Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI) in India’s refurbishment plans after Anurag Thakur’s ascension to the presidency is inspiring, albeit the politics and social conjectures which form a petite fraction in the doings.

The nation that protests against India-Pakistan matches — beyond the BCCI dominion and under the jurisdiction of International Cricket Council — is tough to please. Drought in India is a recurrent predicament but Indian Premier League (IPL) took the bullet.

However, Thakur’s idea to create eco-friendly stadiums could just be a master stroke provided the logistics are in place. The 41-year-old, also a BJP MP, promised to turn threats into opportunity and shape BCCI as a transparent unit, otherwise accused of being opaque by the Supreme Court.

The second-youngest BCCI president, after Fateh Singh Gaekwad in 1963, is desperate for more crowds to Test matches, solve the problem of seating arrangement and allocate seat numbers to the stadiums, an amount of Rs 5 crore for the physically handicapped, dead and dumb, visually impaired cricketers, eco-friendly green stadiums and complimentary tickets for school children.

The BCCI, held at gun point by the apex court, is doing their bit to balance the good, bad and ugly and erase the stain formed during the N Srinivasan epoch.

“I see the Lodha panel recommendations as an opportunity, for you, it must be a challenge. When I took over as the president of Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association in 2000, I had seven chairs, one cupboard and a typewriter. But we still managed to build one of the beautiful stadiums of the world in Dharamshala,” said Thakur, after taking over the reins from Nagpur-based lawyer Shashank Manohar.

He served as the Honorary Secretary of the board and worked alongside the late Jagmohan Dalmiya till his demise in September last year.

Thakur, who claims to have started the reforms even before the Lodha report came out, is a fresh paint in times of trouble. The youngster has been a cricketer for his state – the second administrator after Raj Singh Dungarpur who played first-class cricket for Rajasthan.

The ‘change’ factor

“We will ensure that minimum 10 per cent of tickets are provided free of cost for the children, women and the disabled. There will be a separate seating arrangement for the handicapped,” Thakur ensured.

There are reports that several stadiums in India have spectator overflow. The cops apparently arrive at an understanding and let people in which leads to stampede and the loyal customer doesn’t get to sit on his booked seat.

In order to fight the drought threat, the BCCI is about to facilitate a ‘green’ initiative.

“We will have sewage treatment and rain-water harvesting apart from solar panel and LED,” said the newly-elected Thakur, assuring that all this will be ready within a year.

“The board has bookmarked Rs 100 crore for the green initiative,” he added.

The BCCI believes advertising for the vacancy of India coach to the mass will bring in further transparency.

Hence, this time, they will go for an advertisement like the good old days when candidates looked up the newspaper for job opportunities.

“Anybody can apply for the position if he has the required experience and credentials,” he further asserted.

However, the board arranged for a stop-gap coach for the tour of Zimbabwe. They promoted batting coach Sanjay Bangar. But it will be interesting to see who wears the boss’ mantle in the long run.

The decision on coach has been delayed for a long period. But the BCCI said that they need to wait for they cannot proceed with limited options.

“If one has to go for the best, they cannot do so with limited choices. We will have to decide looking at the applications as to who is best for BCCI,” said Thakur, who also praised Team Director Ravi Shastri’s performance.

One interesting aspect is that there is no designation that of a Team Director for the short tour of Zimbabwe starting June 11. But one may expect another contract after the team is back from Africa and the coach applications are supervised.

IPL – a source of revenue, chefs overseas

The politicians, people from the drought-hit families are suffering from a crisis but Thakur asserted how the IPL is a source of revenue to pay former cricketers and state associations – through sponsors, advertisements et al.

The BCCI did offer relief to solve the calamity but the Bombay High Court overruled such a possibility and hit the cash-rich tournament for a boundary.

“We are not here to take water away from people’s houses. We are here to contribute and one should not blame cricket for it,” he pointed.

The IPL is the domestic tournament of BCCI and money to former cricketers, one-time or monthly is paid through advertisements. Lodha panel had a problem with advertisement in between overs during a cricket match with which even former president Shashank Manohar had an issue.

He had commented that BCCI would go back 20 years when there was no money if advertisements are cut down.

There is a chance that IPL may completely shift out of India owing the ongoing criticism.

“IPL is successful because of Indians, don’t force us to take it outside, that will be everyone’s loss. We need to understand what IPL brings to the country, the youngsters rub shoulders with iconic players and since the state associations are gaining out of it, why push it out?” he questioned.

The board has been able to quickly shift matches to Kanpur, Raipur and Vizag in the eleventh hour; even during World Cup, the India-Pakistan match in Dharamsala had to be shifted to Eden Gardens due to protests.

Will the new wing of BCCI paint a different picture of Indian cricket, sans corruption and N Srinivasan? Thakur is also keen to send a chef to the tour of West Indies so that the cricketers do not have a problem adjusting to the conditions.

“We really do not mind, if there is no food of their choice, they won’t be able to perform,” he said.

The appetite for change seems round the corner, but it remains to be seen if Supreme Court is able to balance out the good deeds of the board.

The next hearing is on June 29 and Thakur said he will not run away from Lodha recommendations.