New BCCI Prez: Old crony wine in new Lodha bottle
I am fearful the BCCI's newly elected president - erroneously reported to be the youngest in its chequered and 88-year history - will also become India's next cricket captain.
If you think that's far-fetched, read on.
In 2000, Anurag Thakur, all of 25, took over as the chief of Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association. The next day he caught a plane to Jammu, where Himachal were scheduled to play in the Ranji Trophy, selected himself to the team and also named himself the captain.
Anurag Thakur, president of HPCA in 2000, took the field against J&K for his first and only First Class match. He added precisely zero runs to Himachal's lost cause and promptly retired on the fourth afternoon, the day of the defeat.
It can be safely inferred that Thakur's brazen abuse of authority was not guided by a blinding desire to be part of the elite first class cricketers club - or its associated perks by way of pensions and payouts. Surely, the motives of the son of a man who ruled an Indian state for two separate terms cannot be guided by wealth!
Thakur picked himself to play for his state - obviously at the expense of somebody far more qualified and appropriate - only so he would be allowed a chance to serve the game. Then marking his path up the slippery BCCI hierarchical slope, he was desperate to become a junior selector.
And since it was mandatory by the then BCCI bylaws that a junior selector have first class experience, Thakur was willing to give it his all, even if it meant that popular perception would view his move as a shameless exploitation of power.
And so began Thakur's journey as a cricket administrator. With his strong political connections, the three-time MP from Hamirpur has been vocally critical of BCCI's internal machinations at times, as he was in 2013 when as a lowly joint secretary, he hit out over N Srinivasan continuing as president in the aftermath of the murky - and still unresolved - IPL spot fixing scam.
Thakur is also viewed as a facilitator beyond compare, especially considering how he has managed to transform his home state - a quaint, mountainous outpost - into one of the most scenic sports venues in the world.
He is also reported to be thick with players, their own man with some (however dubious) first class experience; one who understands their concerns. At 41, and when compared to the relics that have helmed BCCI for so long, he is still young. The 'North Indian' lobbby seems to be particulary taken in by his appointment.
However, Thakur - as was widely and wrongly reported - is not the youngest-ever BCCI president. That honour is reserved for Fatehsingh Rao Gaekwad, who was 33 when he led from 1963-66.
But that doesn't matter. The body's immediate concern is to clean up its house as mandated by the Supreme Court-constituted Lodha Panel. On that count, the new president has already issued statements to the end that only those recommendations that are "practical" would be considered.
BCCI's past has included other politicians as president, including SN Wankhede, NKP Salve, Madhavrao Scindia and Sharad Pawar. Now that another influential power-broker with all the right connections is heading it, will the body - as has been the fashion - close ranks behind him?
Will Thakur, who is also heading the ruling BJP's youth wing, have time enough to dispense his duties as BCCI president, an always-in-the-crosshairs, all-consuming position? This is why one of the Lodha Panel's recommendations seeks to prevent serving politicians and government officials being part of BCCI administration.
This much is clear, the more things change, the more they remain the same. Will we soon have a 41-year-old leading the Indian team. Not the youngest BCCI president, but India's oldest captain, perhaps?