New Delhi: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) office-bearers and the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators have clashed again and this time over the speaker of the prestigious MAK Pataudi Memorial Lecture. In a surprise move, the CoA felt that Kumar Sangakkara was the best candidate to speak at the awards, but the move hasn’t gone down too well with the BCCI officials. Board members feel that former Indian cricketers who played alongside the man famously called Tiger Pataudi would bring more value to the occasion and feel someone among Nari Contractor, Chandu Borde, Erapalli Prasanna and Abbas Ali Baig should be invited as the speaker.
Acting secretary Amitabh Chaudhary has made the same clear to CoA chief Vinod Rai in a scathing mail, in possession with CricketNext. Amitabh has taken a stand and asked the CoA to reconsider the decision and said that he is unable to agree to the proposal of the committee unless the ones named by him are disqualified for other reasons. He also adds that as in the past on any occasions, if overruled, he will have no option but to go with the decision of the CoA.
“When the matter was discussed with me at Bangalore a couple of days ago I had suggested we also look for probable speakers amongst distinguished cricketers of yesteryears such as Nari Contractor, Chandu Borde, Erapalli Prasanna and Abbas Ali Baig. These cricketers have even the distinction of having played alongside Tiger Pataudi and if any of them agrees it could provide the much needed perspective on how cricket has evolved from those years of challenge. Nari was the captain of the touring Indian Team to West Indies when he was struck by a bouncer and the brave man faced it all. This had resulted in Tiger taking over as the youngest ever Test captain having to lead a team of stalwarts such as Manjrekar, Borde, Nadkarni, Jaishima and Umrigar.
“Chandu Borde was one of the most prolific batsmen of the day while Prasanna became the fastest Indian to take hundred wickets in Tests. Baig was the first ever Indian to make a century on debut on foreign soil and otherwise a very distinguished cricketer. It is these past heroes who led to the razzle dazzle of today's cricket. Unfortunately, when the proposal came there was no mention of any of these past cricketers.
“As I understand Tiger Memorial Lecture is not an elocution contest and reasonable communication skills are all that we should look for. It is meant to bring to the fore the evolution of the game, what it meant to play for the country in the old days, the hardships of the time, challenges of the future and the like. If that be the case, certainly once every few years an iconic cricketer of yore should find a place as the keynote speaker in the memorial lecture. Besides, the present heroes could always come in later as renowned cricketers of the past are a disappearing species,” Amitabh wrote to Rai.
GM cricket operation Saba Karim had sent the mail to the CoA and the BCCI members asking them for the suggestion as the lecture is set to be held on June 12 in Bengaluru before the Afghanistan Test. The names of the speakers suggested by Saba were Sourav Ganguly, Kumar Sangakara, Kevin Peterson and Nasser Hussain.
The topics were: A) Peace and sustainability through Cricket - Relevent since Afghanistan is a wonderful story. B) Behaviour and conduct of international players in the modern age - Players perspective. C) Cricket as an Olympic Sport - Way forward.
Diana Edulji was the one who suggested Sangakkara’s name and Rai seconded it and asked Saba to speak to the former Sri Lanka cricketer. The Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi Memorial Lecture was started by the BCCI on February 6, 2013. The inaugural lecture was delivered by Sunil Gavaskar on 20 February 2013. But what remains etched in everyone’s memory is the beautiful fun-filled lecture from Farokh Engineer on March 9, 2017.
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