New BCCI chief Manohar an honest hardliner


India’s newly-elected cricket chief Shashank Manohar is a proven administrator with a honest and clean image who is now charged with arguably the most powerful job in the sport.

The Nagpur-based lawyer, 58, is an exception among power-hungry officials in the chaotic and often turbulent world of the cash-rich Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Manohar hates being in the spotlight and is often regarded as a recluse who is known to shun mobile phones and even a watch.

He did not possess a passport until he was required to travel abroad to attend meetings during his first stint as BCCI president between 2008 and 2011.

But behind that introvert veneer lies a hard taskmaster who brooks no nonsense, with many in the BCCI seeing him as the best man to restore its shattered image and credibility after a string of corruption scandals in recent years.

Narayanaswami Srinivasan, the controversial head of the International Cricket Council (ICC) who was the BCCI secretary during Manohar’s first term at the helm and succeeded him as president in 2011, is the new chief’s prime target.

Manohar has publicly blamed Srinivasan for bringing the BCCI into disrepute following a Supreme Court probe that found Srinivasan’s son-in-law guilty of corruption in the Indian Premier League.

The Supreme Court stood down Srinivasan as BCCI chief last year over conflict of interest charges, paving the way for veteran administrator Jagmohan Dalmiya to succeed him.

Dalmiya’s death on September 20 triggered a bitter succession battle within the faction-ridden BCCI before Manohar emerged as a consensus candidate and was elected unopposed on Sunday.

It remains to be seen if the Manohar-led BCCI will endorse Srinivasan’s bid to serve out his two-year term as ICC chairman which ends in June next year.

The cash-rich BCCI, which benefits from its vast television audiences, enjoys a pre-eminent position in world cricket and effectively runs the ICC with its allies, Australia and England.

Manohar has taken tough decisions in the past.

He threw out the high-profile Lalit Modi from the BCCI in 2010 after a disciplinary committee found the IPL founder guilty of financial mismanagement in the glitzy Twenty20 league.

Modi, who is also being investigated by the Indian government, currently lives in self-imposed exile in London, claiming he faces death threats from the underworld.

Manohar entered cricket politics as president of the Vidarbha Cricket Association in 1996, and his popularity lifted him to the BCCI’s top job in 2008 to succeed his mentor Sharad Pawar.

During his presidency, India became the number one Test side in 2009 and won the 50-over World Cup, the sport’s premier limited-overs competition, in 2011 by defeating Sri Lanka in the final in Mumbai.

Former India captain Sourav Ganguly, who now heads the Cricket Association of Bengal after Dalmiya’s death, backed Manohar to succeed in his second term at the BCCI.

“He is a proven administrator and I wish him well,” said Ganguly. “People with a lot of experience have chosen him. They could not have got it wrong.”