Ms Anuradha Dutt had decided to quit after her term was over. Shubangi Kulkarni, former India captain and Arjuna awardee, who did not want to oppose Anuradha, threw in her hat only after the latter had indicated her unwillingness to continue. It was only later on that Anuradha changed her decision by which time Shubangi had already committed to contest.
Despite representing Karnataka in the Women's Cricket Association of India (WCAI), I had never attended any meetings of the WCAI. So attending the meeting in February at Lucknow was my debut of sorts and it was, to say the least, very intriguing. The elections, in the past, were more a formality and mostly decided by voice vote wherever it was not unopposed. But this time around, the scene turned tumultuous.
Anuradha Dutt, the incumbent secretary, was inclined to contest for the third time around. She had already completed two terms of 5 years each as against the permissible two terms of 4 years each. The debate whether she could contest despite government guidelines stipulating a maximum of 8 years at a stretch was on in full swing. The WCAI was hitherto functioning without bothering much about the Constitution but this time around there was a lot of debate about the same.
As I was one of the persons responsible for Shubangi to decide to run for the post of the secretary of WCAI, I had indicated to Anuradha my inability to support her candidature. The AGM at Lucknow was postponed ostensibly for the reason that adequate notice was not given for the meeting. But it was obvious at that juncture that there was more to it than met the eye.
The postponed meeting was held at Delhi on April 27th. It was preceded by hectic lobbying totally unheard of in women's cricket. While one group held its parleys at a farmhouse in Delhi, the other group met at a star hotel. Shubangi's good image and the anti-incumbency factor against Anuradha's team saw Shubangi romp home with a thumping majority.
While a lot of things are expected from the new team, Shubangi's simplistic approach will definitely help create a rapport with BCCI. With the women's cricket boards merging with the men's cricket boards in Australia, New Zealand, England and other countries, and the International Women's Cricket Council likely to merge with ICC in the near future, it is important to have a person like Shubangi at the helm of affairs.
Human memory is short. All the deeds of the past can be undone by one simple mistake. But even her worst enemy cannot deny the role played by Anuradha in the development of the game in India. After Shubangi assumed charge, the first resolution she proposed which was accepted by all, was to appreciate the services of Anuradha.
The last ten years of Indian women's cricket was virtually scripted by an ex-player, Anuradha Dutt. A top-notch lawyer by profession, she was brought to the Delhi women's cricket horizon with the players seeking her help. She came in with a court verdict in her favour and the Women's Cricket Association of India (WCAI) duly recognised her faction of the Delhi Association. It was just a beginning as Anuradha very soon was catapulted into the all India scene in 1993 when the then incumbent secretary, Ms Bulbul Gayen, could not get the two thirds majority as per the government guidelines and Ms Dutt was elected.
Anuradha's passion for the game was in evidence right from the time of her Delhi and North Zone playing days. I remember the 1979 Dehradun Rani Jhansi Inter Zonal Tournament when Anuradha represented North Zone. Every day after the game, she would drop in and we would have endless discussions about the game. But then those days were before she became one of the successful lawyers of Delhi.
Anuradha's 10-year tenure as the CEO of Indian Women's Cricket was, to say the least, very eventful. Her contribution to the promotion of the game has been immense. Her love for the game, her wide contacts and her ability to churn out money for the WCAI were the hallmark of her tenure. But like all of us, she was blind to certain things. Perhaps her biggest mistake, in my opinion, was to stick to one person for ten years and 3 world Cups as the defacto Indian Coach. The 1997 World Cup Indian squad had all the ingredients to win like home pitches, good team, etc but bad planning saw India crash out in the semi-finals. But then what she gave the game far out numbered all this.
Perhaps it will not be in out of order to say that it was Anuradha who was able to bring TITLE sponsors to women's cricket. Not just for the World Cup which India hosted in 1997 but also for many subsequent series. Her record for staging international matches and for sending Indian teams abroad may be a tall order for her successors to overhaul.
I felt sad that her tenure had to end in this manner. But then everything has to end someday. I wish I had the habit of writing poems. May be I could have ended this with an Ode to Anuradha. May her tribe increase.