The general perception in the politics of cricket administration is that when a person raises his voice or doubts the functioning of the incumbent administration then he surely has some vested interest. Either he wants some plum position in the office-bearers’ list or something else.
Many state units of BCCI have witnessed such kind of situations in its history spread over six decades. DR Shah was not particularly a cricket politician. Shah, who had some health issues for some time, died at his residence due to heart failure last Saturday.
Shah served Gujarat cricket for more than 40 years. From the Mrugesh Jaykrushna time, to the Narhari Amin era to the current administration led by BJP strongman Amit Shah, DR — as he is known in the cricketing circles — has managed to impress one and all.
Considering the cricket political standards, we can say that he was a gentleman. Never did he express any ambition to enjoy any position in the cricket administration. He was a man of few words. However, when the situation demanded, he was ready for action.
It was in 2007 when he took on president Narhari Amin’s style of functioning. It wasn’t easy as Amin was very powerful. Before 2007, other BJP top leaders, late Ashok Bhatt and Anandi Patel had failed to topple Amin. DR was quite aware of that. He had a fair idea about Amin’s power.
He commenced the fight alone and with time DR managed to gain support from the disgruntled ones. Very much like the best known verse of Urdu poetry by Majrooh Sultanpuri: ‘Main akela hee chala tha janibe manzil magar, log saath aate gaye aur carvaan banta gaya’. As a smart play-maker he was happy with his role, working behind the scenes. Before approaching and convincing Amit Shah to back the rebels, DR had quite a few biggies joining his bandwagon, present secretary Rajesh Patel, treasurer Dhiraj Jogani and Ashok Saheba to name a few.
Once Amit Shah was convinced, it took very little time for DR ‘organised’ group to topple Amin from the coveted post of Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) president. DR never ever threw around his weight on or off the field. He rarely provided fodder to the media by speaking his mind, unlike the disgruntled ones who are ready to serve meals for the media for days together.
One can say that he was an ideal wicketkeeper in the administration; the one who worked behind the scene. Despite having earned some favours in various forms, a few members of his group showed discontent, expressed their displeasures in front of the media (albeit off the record talks) but DR was never among them. In fact, he did his work silently and walked away without making noise about it. In cricket politics where administrators still try to get their players into the squad, or fight for becoming the manager of a team to earn DA and other allowances of Rs10,000 plus — especially when matches are played outside Ahmedabad — DR promptly accepted the role of manager when matches were played at the Motera or Navrangpura stadium. He avoided the limelight.
He was always willing to support and involve everyone. Not surprisingly, he enjoyed good relations with Amin group even after leading the rebellion. For players he was a fatherly figure, always ready to guide. Once he learnt that a particular player was crazy about the famous Gujarati theplas, and from that day onwards he never forgot to bring homemade theplas on the ground.
DR provided an altogether new dimension, completely different from the power-obsessed cricket administration. He was a true cricketing manager.