Anurag Thakur's priorities: Repair BCCI's image, play more Tests

Cleaning up the battered image of the BCCI, taking international cricket to new venues around the country and ensuring that India play more Tests top the priority list of newly-elected Board Secretary Anurag Thakur.

Anurag Thakur's priorities: Repair BCCI's image, play more Tests

New Delhi: Cleaning up the battered image of the BCCI, taking international cricket to new venues around the country and ensuring that India play more Tests top the priority list of newly-elected Board Secretary Anurag Thakur.

Thakur, who has been a cricket administrator for 15 years besides being a BJP MP, has emerged as a powerful personality in the BCCI after he beat incumbent Sanjay Patel by just one vote at the AGM in Chennai on Sunday.

The previous N Srinivasan led regime was embroiled in controversies and Thakur is confident that the Board will be able to turn the tide under the leadership of old horse Jagmohan Dalmiya.

"There is a wide perception that BCCI was a one-man show in the last few years. A lot of controversies took place, lots of court cases. It is time to change all of that," Thakur told PTI in an interview here today.

Acknowledging that it was a fiercely fought election between the Srinivasan and Sharad Pawar factions, the 40-year-old expressed confidence that the office-bearers will put the past behind to take Indian cricket forward.

"There are three areas we need to look at right away. One is the internal functioning of the board, the second is cleaning up the image of the Board, bring in more accountability to the BCCI," he said.

"Thirdly and most importantly, to promote the game and make it more popular," added Thakur.

Speaking on the Indian cricket team, he said the Board will soon start the work on finding a replacement for coach Duncan Fletcher, whose tenure ends with the World Cup.

He also wants the team to play more Test matches (both home and abroad) than they have played in the last couple of years.

"The Indian team's recent Test record has not been good and the only way the team can improve is by playing more in the longest format. You have the IPL right after the World Cup, so we are planning to send the team to Sri Lanka for a Test series sometime in July-August," said Thakur.

He said the BCCI is keen on allotting Test matches to smaller venues as it is expected to attract good crowd.

"We have many requests from various associations to host Test matches. The good thing is that over a period of time, many associations have built stadias. Anyway there is no harm in creating more centres. With certain visiting teams, you don't get huge crowds in big cities but at smaller centres you are still likely to get crowd for the five-day game. So we need to change our strategy to attract more fans to stadiums," he said.

The BCCI's move to stop wives and girlfriends (WAGs) from travelling with the team for the ongoing World Cup generated wide debate. Thakur is open to reviewing the existing diktat.

"The WAGs were allowed for the Australia series but the the previous regime thought otherwise for the following World Cup. The policy remains the same till the World Cup but we will consider specific players' request after the tournament."

The Srinivasan-led BCCI did not encourage the players mingling with the media and to this day, the cricketers have been instructed to not speak to the journalists.

Thakur put that acrimony between BCCI and media down to miscommunication.

"I think there was a communication gap. We can look into those areas if needed, we can improve. If there is a need for more interaction, we can look into that. You can already see the change since the new regime has taken over. I have been talking to you guys often," he said.

The Member of Parliament from Hamirpur concluded by reflecting on his relationship with Dalmiya.

"The interesting part is when I first entered BCCI, Dalmiya soon took charge in 2001. We have been very close since that time. Looking ahead, both president and secretary have a healthy relationship, that can only be good for the BCCI."

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