Like a batsman facing the first over from an express quickie on a green-top, N. Srinivasan's first press conference in Melbourne on Thursday as ICC chairman was pretty hostile. Barred by the Supreme Court to function as BCCI president due to his alleged links with the 2013 Indian Premier League betting and spot-fixing scandal, Srinivasan told the media that he was "clean" and deserved to be on the ICC hotseat.
Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, who was a team official of Chennai Super Kings, has already been indicted by a court-appointed probe committee for betting and sharing team information. On ethical reasons, Srinivasan's appointment as ICC chairman had been questioned by various quarters. But Srinivasan has got full support from the Indian Board and all units of the ICC.
For the first time in the ICC's 105 year history in Melbourne on Thursday, the entire council of the ICC approved full changes to the ICC constitution. This allowed Srinivasan from becoming the first ICC chairman. Srinivasan was treasurer of the BCCI from 2005 to 2008 and its secretary from 2008 until 2011, upon which he became the president of the richest cricket Board in the world. Excerpts from Srinivasan's press conference:
Q: When you look at the events of today, when do you think the process to get to here (as ICC Chairman) really started? How far back in your mind?
A: I never thought of becoming the chairman, actually. It started out with -- we had a working group to start looking at the next rights cycle of the ICC from 2015 to 2023, and we started to look at what kind of models, financial models, we should be having, and from there we went to say, why only look at a financial model; is ICC in its present form all right? Should we have a slightly different governance model? Should we not give a better opportunity for the Associates and Affiliates?
So this is how the whole concept discussions widened, and at the end of the day, we said that one should take responsibility for leadership in cricket, and that is England, Australia, ourselves and others. So it's evolved over -- I think we discussed this for at least a year, and it is over that period that this evolved. It was not that we started out with this. We landed with this, ended up with this.
Q: Can you explain, it's well known that you've been stood down as BCCI president by the Supreme Court for the duration of that investigation. Can you explain why you're an appropriate pick and proper person to run world cricket given your involvement in that investigation?
A: Actually the (Supreme) Court did not ask me, I stepped aside voluntarily. I do not know if you have followed the reporting of that. The (Justice Mukul Mudgal) committee made a report which did not involve me, but they had given a sealed envelope in which they said there were some unsubstantiated, unverified allegations made by some people, which the Court is looking into. I said I'll voluntarily step aside during that period.
Now, as far as I'm concerned, I have done nothing wrong. There is no wrongdoing on my part, and therefore, my conscience is very clear that there is no taint on me, and whatever investigation is there will take its course will come out, reports will come out. But unless I have in my mind any doubt or if I have done anything, then what you say possibly is then one has to think. But for what I have not done, I have no concern.
Q: When you say there is no taint on me, does that include your son in law?
A: My son-in-law, there are some charges against him. He has to defend himself in court. I mean, it's a question of it's going to be proved or not proved, but that's up to him. This is a question this is a question about me.
Q: But it reflects on you. It's your team (Chennai Super Kings).
A: I think you have to wait until the final until everything is clear at the end of the day. If nothing is proved, I think all this comment would have been unfair, isn't it.
Q: Having a problem with corruption in cricket, how do you prepare to combat it?
A: The ICC has been taking very strong steps. They have an Anti Corruption and Security Unit which has done extremely good work. They don't publicize what they do.
Q: In the past you've said in your own defence that you've always worked and acted in the best interests of Indian cricket. Now in this position do you propose to act in the best interests of the game globally, and what is your vision for world cricket?
A: See, cricket is a very old game. It has evolved over time, from Test cricket to ODI cricket to T20 cricket. I think one of the issues that is facing cricket is whether we are seeing in many countries, in many geographies, we are not seeing the kind of attendance at grounds that we are used to in the past. Some forms of cricket are more popular, and I think you'll see more attention, spectator attention.
Having said that, I think the most important thing that we must be looking at now is how to make cricket more interesting by making it more competitive, and this is where you will find in this new structure, there is a lot of emphasis on meritocracy. The glass ceiling has been broken. The Associates and Affiliates, the up and coming teams, they can come up, play the longer version, and I think with this, and as the public sees there is greater competition, I think cricket will also improve, and I think that is something that we will drive.
Q: What message would you like to extend back home in India to BCCI once you are taking over here as Chairman?
A: I think the most important thing that I'd like to say is that I'm humbled by this opportunity to be a leader in this great organization, which has done so much for cricket.