Sashank Manohar – a godsend for cricket


Sports Minister Harin Fernando (R) talks with International Cricket Council (ICC) chairman Shashank Manohar (L) in Colombo on August 23, 2019. Manohar is in Sri Lanka for a four-day official visit. (ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP)

by Rex Clementine

Not too often you have got to say complementary things about Sri Lanka Cricket, but their move to invite ICC Chairman Sashank Manohar for the second Test at P. Sara Oval must be commended. Here’s a man who changed the politics of cricket and democratized the governance of the sport after the ugly takeover by the big three – India, Australia and England.

Manohar was BCCI President from 2008 to 2011 and stepped down from cricket’s most powerful position gracefully. His successor, N. Srinivasan, changed the dynamics of cricket that provided his board the lion’s share of ICC findings and strong control of the game. The Big Three take over was a blow to the game and the bullying tactics that Srinivasan employed against smaller and weaker boards like Sri Lanka left a bad taste in many mouths.

This was a time none dared to take on Srinivasan. Indian cricket stalwarts like I.S. Bindra, A.C. Muttiah and Jagmohan Dalmiya had tried and failed miserably. Manohar was a godsend. He was untouchable because he was a clean, honest and simple man.

Manohar called a spade a spade. When Srinivasan was all powerful, Manohar minced no words speaking to celebrated cricket writer G. Vishwanath of The Hindu. "I don’t agree with the three major countries bullying the ICC. As I have always said, an institution is bigger than individuals," he said.

The 2013 IPL spot fixing scandal saw Srinivasan’s empire crumbling down. The Indian Supreme Court observed several "misdemeanours" by Srinivasan. In view of the court’s observations, Manohar took the challenge to overthrow his successor who had gone onto become the Chairman of International Cricket Council.  

"The image of the Board is tarnished by the actions and the attitude of Mr. Srinivasan. The gentlemen’s game, as the game of cricket has long been known, and the reputation of the Board is at its lowest due to the egoistic and autocratic behaviour of one individual. The Board and the game of cricket is bigger than any individual and it is the responsibility and duty of every individual connected with the game to preserve the dignity and integrity of the Game and the Board, and I appeal to all members of the Board to rise to the occasion and prevent the Board and the Game from being further destroyed," Manohar commented.

Having taken up the job as the head of BCCI once again reluctantly, he went onto become the Chairman of ICC for a second term.   

Manohar hails from Nagpur and has a legal background. He is married to a lawyer as well. His father Venkatesh Manohar was Nagpur’s leading lawyer and later went onto become the Advocate Counsel of Maharashtra.

Nagpur’s old cricket ground is in the center of city and has hosted international cricket since 1969. But to cater to the demands of modern international cricket, the need to put up a new stadium was mooted and Vidarbha Cricket Association entrusted Manohar for the task.

The present ground situated some 20 kilometers from the city on the Nagpur – Hyderabad highway is a state of the art stadium that is able to host 45,000 fans.

The ground, built on a 34-acre space with a clubhouse, is the complete package. It’s not one of those concrete jungles. Everywhere there’s greenery and a variety of roses are found here.

The buying of new plot and construction of the stadium cost authorities less than 100 crore Indian Rupees. Another point that highlights Manohar’s integrity. The ground was rated as the best of the tournament during the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011.

Sri Lanka’s players claim that the facilities at the dressing room in Nagpur are the best they have encountered anywhere in the world.

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