Making India the top team in all formats of the game will be the priority for BCCI president Anurag Thakur, writes Rediff.com’s Harish Kotian
He has been in cricket administration for the last 16 years and on the day he was elected as Board of Control for Cricket in India’s 34th president, Anurag Thakur announced that his top priority is to attract more fans to Test matches in India.
“Cricket is India’s most popular game but more important for us are the fans because no matter what the weather is, whether there is heat, rain or cold, they buy tickets to watch the game and make it more popular. BCCI wants to popularise Test cricket and this year we are hosting around 13 Test matches. Every state unit has been told to reserve a minimum of 10 per cent tickets for students, girl child and the specially-abled which will given to them free of cost so that they can come and witness Test cricket in India,” he said in Mumbai on Sunday after being unanimously elected as the 34th BCCI chief, replacing Shashank Manohar, who resigned from the post earlier this month.
“In a few stadiums, we have noticed that the seats are not numbered so we have instructed all the associations to number the seats. All the seats are numbered so that the person who can purchases the tickets he will have no problems finding his seat. There will also be a special area marked for the physically-abled, so that they don’t face any problems while watching the game,” he added.
The 41-year-old Thakur will be the second youngest BCCI president after Fatehsinghrao Gaekwad, who took over as the Board chief in 1963 aged 33.
Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Thakur was the former secretary of the Board. He was the only nominee for the post and his appointment was confirmed at the BCCI’s special general meeting in Mumbai on Sunday.
He said for the sport to attract more fans another key area is the performance of the Indian team.
“Currently our team is No 2 in Tests and T20s and No 4 in ODIs and in women’s cricket. We will take every step, whatever is possible to make India No 1 in ODIs/Tests/T20s and women’s cricket,” he said.
Thakur also gave details on the BCCI’s ‘Green Initiative’ a movement to work towards the environment which he says will be implemented in the next one year across all stadiums in India.
“BCCI will also take steps towards protecting the environment through the Green Initiative. The future stadiums in India will be green stadiums and BCCI will provide all help possible to build the new stadiums. For the existing stadiums, which are currently being used in the country, the BCCI will work towards installing solar panels, they will undergo energy audit. We will take steps towards install rain-harvesting methods, treating sewage water so it can be used for various purposes in the stadium. All these measures will be implemented in the next one year. We have reserved Rs. 100 crore for the same so that all the existing stadiums have rain-water harvesting, solar panels, LED and they will also undergo energy audits so they can be converted into green stadiums,” he said.
Thakur is credit for turning around the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association since taking over the association in 2000 at a young age of 25. Under his tenure, HPCA built the picturesque stadium in Dharamsala, regarded as one of the most beautiful stadiums in the world.
“I would like to state my example when I took over as the HPCA chief at a young age of 25, that time I inherited only seven chairs, one iron cupboard and a typewriter. But within five years, we built an international stadium in Dharamsala, not only a cricket stadium but one of the most beautiful cricket stadiums in the world and also built around five-six other stadiums in the state,” he said.