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Former Test wicketkeeper Farokh Engineer presents the Dilip Sardesai award to India off-spinner R Ashwin at the BCCI Awards in Bangalore last week. Pic/BCCI
The BCCI awards night held in Bangalore recently may have emerged the most popular of all editions, what with less Board officials and more cricketers seen on stage to present the awards.
As reported, several state units boycotted the function since they were upset that only those administrators who were eligible as per the Lodha Committee reforms could attend.
The pettiness of cricket administrators who decided to stay away from the Bangalore event stood out like a sore thumb. The next time Indian cricket administrators trumpet about how proud they are of the players produced by their respective state associations, they need to be reminded about the 2017 BCCI awards.
From a Mumbai point of view, it was disappointing that the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) joined the boycott group. This edition of the BCCI awards was special to the MCA. A player from the association - Padmakar Shivalkar - was awarded the Colonel CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement award. Shreyas Iyer was honoured for being the highest scorer in the 2015-16 Ranji Trophy season and the MCA got the award for the best performance in the 2015-16 BCCI domestic tournaments. Then, there was a special award for the late Ramakant Desai and, of course, the Dilip Sardesai Award which went to Ravichandran Ashwin. The Mumbai influence was strong, but where was the MCA representation in the hall?
More cricketers and less administrators was refreshing because it was sickening to see in past editions administrator after administrator walk on stage and hog the limelight. I was at the 2011 edition held at a five-star hotel in Bandra and it was painful to watch Board officials give away the awards even as cricketing legends like Sunil Gavaskar, Gundappa Viswanath, Kapil Dev and Dilip Vengsarkar sat in the audience. This was the function where the 2011 World Cup-winning team were felicitated. At no point was Kapil Dev, the 1983 World Cup captain, called on stage to be with Dhoni and his winning team. A photograph for posterity missed, but more importantly, it was a slap in the face for sensitivities.
Bishan Singh Bedi, who sat with his old pal Erapalli Prasanna in Bangalore last week, told me how refreshing this awards function was with Board officials not in the forefront. "This was an event full of cricket-oriented people. It brought out the cricket etiquette factor and we must have more functions like these. After all, cricket is a social game. We must approve of the cricket influence spreading far and wide socially. It felt great to mingle with past and present cricketers," said Bedi.
From what I saw on the BCCI website, the function was a grand one. The speeches were touching, especially the one delivered by Shantha Rangaswamy, who got the lifetime achievement award for her contribution to women's cricket. Rangaswamy shocked her listeners by saying she never got paid anything throughout her career. I am sure that revelation caused moist eyes in the room.
Ajit Wadekar, presenting the lifetime achievement award to Shivalkar, was apt in a way because Wadekar captained Shivalkar in the Shivaji Park Gymkhana and Mumbai teams. But Bedi, presenting the award to a spinner who couldn't play for India because of his presence, would have been more exciting.
The concept of rewarding players posthumously is a fine one and all credit to the BCCI for initiating these special awards a few years ago. This year it was for the late Ramakant Desai, whose contribution should never be underestimated and Mrs Anagha Desai must have been very proud to receive it from her late husband's teammate, Wadekar - another Shivaji Park Gymkhana connection. Wadekar played alongside Desai for the Associated Cement Company too.
It may be worth thinking about a Hall of Fame concept like they have in Australia. Previous winners of the CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement award could be included for starters, followed by fresh winners.
The current BCCI administration has done well to conduct a memorable awards function. A couple of suggestions: The BCCI should beam the event live to cricket lovers at home and institute an award for the venue which is most spectator-friendly because, at the end of the day, it's the paying public that matters.
mid-day’s group sports editor Clayton Murzello is a purist with an open stance. He tweets @ClaytonMurzello. Send your feedback to email@example.com