A 3rd front emerges in Indian cricket

Written by: S K Sham
Published: Friday, January 12, 2001, 18:45 [IST]
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While on the higher plane of national politics, a third front still remains a pious wish of parties, who cannot even put two and two together, Indian cricket already has one, solidified and ready to rule over Mumbai's cricket.

With former chief minister of Maharashtra Sharad Pawar throwing his hat into the ring for the plum post of the president of the Mumbai Cricket Association, the two groups who have been contesting against each other, are faced with a third front, which is supporting the Nationalist Congress Party heavyweight in his foray into cricket administration.

The two groups, which have split the total number of seats on the MCA managing committee over the last seven years, have been known as the Manohar Joshi Group and Bal Mahaddalkar Group.

By a strange coincidence, Manohar Joshi was elected chief minister of Maharashtra and the president of the Bombay Cricket Association in the same month. His exercise of changing the city's nomenclature to Mumbai had started with the cricket body.

First time around, it wasn't easy for Joshi, as he had to contest against former Test stumper and a highly respected member of association, Madhav Mantri. Thereafter, he was re-elected unopposed because of the clout he wielded as the State Chief Minister.

Although Manohar Joshi has now shifted to the capital, as a Union minister, he continues to be the MCA president until a new incumbent is elected. His group, however, is still very active and is set to contest all the important posts on the managing committee. The elections are scheduled to be held on January 19.

Some disgruntled members, being fed up with the functioning of the association's high hierarchy, decided to bring in another politician to counter the control of the body by Manohar Joshi through proxy

Since Sharad Pawar is already the president of MCA's own creation, but now at loggerheads with the parent body, the Garware Clubhouse, the choice fell on him to help wear down the influence of the Shiv Sana on the affairs of the MCA.

Until Sharad Pawar entered the fray, former India captain and present vice-president of the body, Ajit Wadekar was considered a strong contender for the MCA president's post.

Wadekar, however, has played his cards so clumsily that he had, in the end, to struggle even to have a club to represent at the annual general meeting and for him to file his nomination for the presidential election.

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