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  Sports   Cricket  02 Dec 2017  When BCCI saw the light of day

When BCCI saw the light of day

THE ASIAN AGE. | RAVI CHATURVEDI
Published : Dec 2, 2017, 6:04 am IST
Updated : Dec 2, 2017, 6:04 am IST

It is also pertinent to point out that the invited delegates were all beholden to the royal family of Patiala and patronised cricket.

The BCCI was founded with Govan as president and de Mello as secretary. (Photo: AFP)
 The BCCI was founded with Govan as president and de Mello as secretary. (Photo: AFP)

Arthur Gilligan, ex-England captain and a man of considerable influence in the cricket establishment in the Big Isles was impressed by what he saw in the course of an unofficial MCC tour of India in 1926-27. By the end of the trip, Gilligan was convinced that Indian cricket was thriving and the need of the hour was to have a proper board of control to run the game properly.

The concept of a body to run cricket in India was the brainchild of Gilligan. He gave an assurance that if an Indian board was formed, he would advocate its inclusion as a member of the Imperial Cricket Conference (now the International Cricket Council).

The crucial meeting took place in November 21, 1927 when Gilligan’s team played against Northern India at Roshnara Club (owned by the British nationals stationed in the capital city) in Delhi.

The Maharaja of Patiala, Bhupinder Singh, invited delegates from Alwar, Baroda, Bhopal, Central India, Delhi, Gwalior, Kathiawar, Patiala, Punjab, Rajputana, Sindh and United Provinces along with Grant Govan (an English businessman) and his employee Anthony de Mello. It was here that the need to form a board to run cricket in the country was mooted. It is also pertinent to point out that the invited delegates were all beholden to the royal family of Patiala and patronised cricket.

Roshnara Club was established by British nationals stationed in Delhi in 1922. The club got its name from the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s youngest daughter and the sister of his successor Aurangzeb. Sir Sobha Singh, father of renowned journalist Kushwant Singh and a builder of Delhi was one of the founder members of the club. Unfortunately no headway could be made in the November 21, 1927 get-together.

Nevertheless, another meeting followed in December 1928 again at Roshnara Club where cricket administrators gathered in front of an old fireplace and sowed the seeds of the Indian cricket body — the BCCI. Consequently Roshanara Club became a sacrosanct symbol that preserved its rich historical past of providing a place for establishing cricket in the country. And thereby hangs a tale!

The BCCI was founded with Govan as president and de Mello as secretary. The Imperial Cricket Conference enrolled India as member of its elite ‘club’ in 1929 at the behest of Gilligan.

As a sequel to the birth of the board, Govan and de Mello went to England and a South African tour to India was planned for 1929 and of India to England in 1931. However, the political climate in the country became too hot (due to Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi march for the salt campaign) to host these proposed tours. In fact, when the selection for the 1932 England tour started, the Hindu Gymkhana on nationalistic fervour boycotted the selection trials. In hindsight, the 1932 Indian team’s batting became brittle due to the absence of star batsmen Vijay Merchant and L.P. Jai. Despite handicaps and hurdles, the maiden1932 Indian tour to England took place, although India lost the lone Test match. But that is another story.

Tags: bcci, arthur gilligan