Sounding Board

The CAO of the BCCI Ratnakar Shetty has made rapid strides in the board's hierarchy over the last two decades

Friday, March 07, 2022

Ratnakar Shetty

Sportz Interactive

Few would have anticipated an unassuming chemistry lecturer at Wilson College to surface as the Chief Administrative Officer of the richest cricketing body in the world. This is a marvellous story, one of Ratnakar Shetty, an esteemed administrator and executive.

It was due to a transformation in the Bombay University's arrangement of governing sports in educational institutions in the mid-1970s that Shetty ventured into cricket administration. Mumbai School Sports Association had taken charge of sports at the school-level, while the University had started to do same at the college-level.

Shetty emerged as a redeemer for students in classes XI and XII who were left without a parent body to organise sports events for them. He formed the Junior College Sports Association catering only to Class XI and XII students. Shetty acquired a ground close to the Wilson college ground – adjacent to the famous Hindu Gymkhana.

He organised the successful PT Solomon Trophy in the early '80s, caught the eyes of bureaucrats at the helm and eventually became a member of the sub-committee for Mumbai Cricket in 1985. But Shetty came into contact with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) only in 1996.

His first involvement with the Indian team was in 1997, when he was appointed manager of the side on their tour to Sri Lanka under the captaincy of Sachin Tendulkar. For over a month and a half India were dominated in the Tests – including being battered for a world-record total of 952 in the first Test – and whitewashed 0-3 in the ODI series.

There was also the match-fixing scandal at the time, made by former Pakistan wicket-keeper Rashid Latif, which made his role all the more important. His background as a teacher helped, and players remember his role in facilitating interaction with the media, and in lifting the team's spirits.

His next task was as manager of the U-15 side on their tours in 2000 – to Malaysia for the Asian Cricket Council tournament, and to England for the Under-15 World Challenge Cup. But his biggest task was when he was appointed the Indian team manager for the historic 2003-04 tour of Pakistan.

During his tenure as BCCI's joint-secretary, Shetty saw the spectre of a cricketer being banned for bribing selectors. In November 2003, Abhijit Kale who represented India in a single ODI match was accused of attempting to bribe members of the selection committee – Kiran More and Pranab Roy. This resulted in the Mumbai batsman being banned from all forms of cricket.

Shetty's most recent tasks have involved his active association with the inception of the multi-million dollar Indian Premier League, his overseeing of grounds' renovation processes for the 2011 World Cup and facilities.

He was selected the Tournament Director of the 2006 Champions Trophy in India and received accolades for his work – providing world-class grounds and living up to the standards of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

A true people's person, Shetty believes that there may not be drastic changes overnight but also understands that is an accountable position and has been entrusted with enormous responsibilities.