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Bindra walks down memory lane

Vijay Lokapally

— PHOTO: AKHILESH KUMAR

DISTINGUISHED RECORD: Veteran administrator I.S. Bindra snapped at the PCA Stadium which he helped create in Mohali.

MOHALI: His eyes grow moist as he watches the ground staff at work at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium here ahead of the West Indies-Ireland World Cup match.

The stadium and the association stand testimony to this man's glorious journey as a cricket administrator, who had the vision to see the future of the game in India.

It was in 1992 that Inderjit Singh Bindra prepared the vision document and titled it Punjab Cricket 2010. “Corporate packages, air-conditioned boxes, video screen, turnstiles and spectator comfort were documented and we had aimed at achieving all of it by 2010. Much of it was finished by 1996,” says Mr. Bindra. The boxes came in 2002 and turnstiles in 2008.

Ambitious plans

Associated with the Board since 1975, the 70-year-old is now planning an infrastructure for the “next century.” The first step has been taken by procuring 42 acres of land just outside Chandigarh. “It will be a stadium that will last 100 years,” he promises. Just like Lord's. “Our focus would be on spectator comfort. We would create self-contained parking.”

When the new stadium comes up, every spectator, asserts Mr. Bindra, would be able to park his car within 50 yards from his seat. “He should park and walk to his seat. It will be an open stadium, not at all claustrophobic, and have three grounds in the complex.” As per international standards, the spectators' ingress and digress process would be seven minutes.

As the nation plays co-host to the World Cup, Mr. Bindra remembers the times when he played a key role in bringing the prestigious tournament to India.

“When I look back, I feel a tremendous sense of achievement. Winning the Cup in 1983 changed the face of cricket in India. It also inspired us to take it out of England.”

N.K.P. Salve, then Board president, formed the team with Bindra and former Board president Jagmohan Dalmiya to conduct the tournament. “I ran the 1987 World Cup from Taj Palace Hotel (in New Delhi) with a staff of three. Jaggu (Dalmiya) did it with a staff of five in 1996.”

Salve was the leader and Bindra the visionary. “And Jaggu implemented it,” reminds Mr. Bindra, also a former Board president.

Does he still reckon Dalmiya a friend? “There was no acrimony from my side. Even when I was suspended (from the Board) I had said ‘Jaggu is my friend and has been misguided'. He had a role to play and you can't really ignore the facts when writing history.”

It was under Bindra's guidance that the Board managed to end the monopoly of Doordarshan and sold cricket telecast rights. “It was a revolution. In 1992-93, we made a breakthrough by selling the rights to TWI. And then ESPN reached the promised seven million homes in 1994. The rest is history.”

As principal advisor to the ICC, Mr. Bindra would love to see cricket pick up in China and the United States. “I am sure T20 cricket has a huge market in these two countries. Look at the Indian Premier League's success. We have marketed domestic cricket in such a big way.”

High points

Mr. Bindra lists the World Cup wins in 1983 and T20 (2007) along with staging of the Cup in India in 1987 and 1996 as the high points of Indian cricket. “Also the democratisation of the ICC,” adds the veteran administrator with pride.

The much-distinguished Mr. Bindra, who also served as president of the Table Tennis Federation of India, says with pride “it has been a long innings.” He wants to hand over charge to the young generation. “Before I am thrown out,” he smiles.

“I have had my innings.” His eyes are moist again.

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