“I think domestic players … Ranji players are looked after pretty well,” Binny said in response to whether central contracts for domestic players was one his bucket list of things to accomplish while BCCI president.
“They’re taken care of well, they have good facilities, they stay in good places. There’s no need for that at the moment. What’s needed is to lift the standard of the Ranji Trophy,” Binny said. “It’s the premier tournament. Along with Ranji, you have the Duleep Trophy and Irani Cup. How many people knew Irani Cup happened a month back? How many watched it? We have a culture; cricket fans need to support that. We need to change that.”
Having just returned from his unveiling as BCCI president in Mumbai, Binny was the talk of the town at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, his “home turf”. And as he regaled his colleagues, friends and former team-mates at the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA), the former India allrounder touched on another important subject – selection.
“That is best left to the selectors, I won’t interfere,” he said. “We’ve picked them to do a job, we will let them do it”. He wanted to be clear that people with certain responsibilities will be allowed to carry out their duties. Like the medical staff at the NCA, who he felt needed to do better.
“You can’t have a [Jasprit] Bumrah breaking down 10 days before a World Cup,” Binny said. “We need to address why and how players are breaking down so easily, not just now but over the last four-five years. It’s not that we don’t have good trainers or coaches. Whether the load is too much, whether they’re playing too many formats, something needs to be done. That is my priority…not just mine, the entire board’s.”
Binny was flanked by all the KSCA office bearers and members who handed him bouquets upon arrival. He joked about how the need to be in formal attire had turned a short metro ride from his home to the stadium into a long drive. As he entered the long hall, he soaked in the applause and began his introductory speech reminiscing about his first time at KSCA as a schoolboy in the 1970s.
Binny identified every team-mate of his, irrespective of which level it was at, from the gathering, before saying, “I’d never imagined to one day become BCCI president. It’s a great honour, I can’t tell you how happy my family and I are today at this new responsibility. I will do my best.”
“That is not the BCCI’s call,” Binny said. “We need the government’s clearance to leave the country. Whether we leave the country or teams are coming into the country, we need clearance. Once we get that from the government, we go with it. We can’t make decisions on our own. We have to rely on the government, we haven’t approached them yet.”
Binny also spoke of raising the standard of pitches across the country. “Pitches around the country are still too docile,” he said. “They’re unfit for fast bowlers. If our team goes to England or Australia, it takes us two weeks to a month to settle in with the movement and bounce. We should be able to acclimatise here before we go there. That’s another area we need to look into.”
As he left the stage, Binny reminded his former KSCA colleagues of how he’ll continue being a regular visitor to his former office. “To you guys, I have some bad news. I’m not going away from here, I’ll keep coming back (laughs).”
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo