A true lover of cricket and all things cricket related, perhaps best sums up my friend, guide and cricket administrator extraordinaire – BINDRAJI – who has decided to hang up his boots. After over 36 years of actively shaping the institution that is today the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA), contributing to the BCCI and Indian cricket and of course the ICC and World Cricket, Inderjit Singh Bindra, has left behind a lasting legacy if ever there was one on the Gentleman’s Game.
An astute cricket administrator, independent and fearless individual and above all an amazing human being – it has been my pleasure, no, my privilege to have met and worked closely with Bindraji. My friend, confidante on all matters cricket and a mentor when it comes to cricket administration, it was due to Bindraji taking me under his wing and sharing his knowledge about cricket that I got truly hooked on to the sport. Never one to sit meekly and see any travesty being committed on his beloved game, Bindraji was often up against the odds when it came to the BCCI, but never have I seen him back away from what he believed in.
I have so many fond memories of walking the hallowed halls of the PCA at Mohali with Bindraji that I simply cannot comprehend him moving away from the game. More importantly, I have been privileged to have seen the PCA and Indian cricket go from strength to strength under his guidance. The PCA, I have no doubt in my mind is one of the finest cricketing stadia in India, comparable to the very best in the world. Little wonder then that the crowning moment of Bindraji’s illustrious career would have been hosting the India versus Pakistan semi--final in the 2011 World Cup held at his beloved PCA stadium.
Importantly, though besides his crowning jewel, the PCA, Bindraji continued to be a man of many accomplishments and therein lies the true character of a man who worked tirelessly for the benefit of our beloved game and for the well being of cricketers. I consider Bindraji, as one of the pioneers that understood the true value of the game and succeeded in marketing the game accurately to derive its true potential. He was also one of the few administrators in Indian cricket who understood the immense benefits of opening up the Indian cricket television market and this was an area I worked very closely with him on, when I entered the world of the BCCI.
It feels like only just yesterday that I met Bindraji for the first time and surprisingly enough my career in sports administration began on the opposite side of the table from him. I was trying to build a business out of distributing sports pay channels in India. and I think Bindraji was then perhaps the only individual who had realised quite early on that the business of sport was unlike any other having the ability to 'cut across all creeds and all castes', which is why he helped me bring televised cricket, through ESPN and then TEN Sports, to India.
I think Bindraji knew even then, that LIVE sports, was one of the few things that Indian television viewers would soon mature and agree to pay. Bindraji and perhaps Mr Dalmiya were the only two people who knew even then the value of the broadcasting rights, about more than two decades ago.
I distinctly remember that after I had gone through ESPN about buying the broadcast rights of the England and Wales Cricket Board, the BCCI, Cricket Australia, New Zealand Cricket, West Indies, and Sri Lanka. Bindraji had told me that I could help Indian cricket and that the best way for me to work on improving the system was to join it and work on improving it from within.
And that is when my tryst with Indian cricket began in real earnest. He was right by my side as I unveiled my vision for the Indian Premier League (IPL) to the BCCI and then the world. His guidance was only a phone call away at any time of the day or night. The other role that he loved was the one he performed as ICC's Principal Advisor in which he travelled to the United States of America and China to draft a plan to promote the sport in two of the world’s biggest markets.
Thus, as I write this today my mind goes back to the lasting legacy that this giant of a man is leaving behind with his deeds for cricket.
Indian cricket I am certain will be poorer from this loss, as his boots as a cricket administrator extraordinaire are really very big to fill. I wish him well and know that he would always remain available for any kind of help and guidance needed not just by me, but by anyone who wished to improve the Indian cricketing system.