How did you get into cricket? Were you always interested in the game like most Indians?
Well, even before my marriage to Mukesh I was interested in the game, but not in a serious way. I used to watch Sunil Gavaskar and Salim Durrani play. But, that was all. I didn’t understand the game much. One day Mukesh asked me if I would be interested in owning a cricket team. I did not have the requisite background, but I said yes to him and took up the challenge. I must tell you that I have no regrets whatsoever in accepting his suggestion. I got fully involved in the game and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I learnt a lot about cricket and its nuances. It is all so very fascinating. The IPL victory and the huge success at Champions League have been highly satisfying.
Who do you attribute the Sunday’s victory to? Rohit Sharma’s captaincy?
Rohit’s leadership and contribution were indeed huge. But, it is the team effort which matters ultimately. And the way Rohit and his boys pulled the second major victory for team was simply amazing. I am proud of each and every member of the team.
There is a fresh auction scheduled next year. That could mean that Mumbai Indians may have to put in place a new team if there is no provision for player retention. Won’t it be difficult for you to part with this champion side?
Indeed. It will be very difficult. That is why I am requesting the authorities to reformulate rules after consulting all the stakeholders, including the players. Ultimately what matters is that cricket as a game should flourish and succeed in a very healthy way. One should take a holistic look at the picture. There is no harm in revisiting the rules. I hope something positive comes out of it.
How was it watching Sachin Tendulkar playing his last T20 game? Some commentators are saying that his exit could have been better handled by the administrators. What is your take on it?
It was a very emotional experience. As for his decision to quit, I think all of us should respect his decision. He is undoubtedly a very great player. I was amazed at his total dedication to the sport. He would be the first one to come to the nets at 7.30am and stay on till late in the evening. His focus, humbleness and commitment is simply unbelievable. He epitomises the spirit of the game.
Don’t you think that the spirit of the game has been marred by spot-fixing controversy? The general feeling is that there is no charm left in cricket now.
The allegations of spot-fixing are very saddening. I hope the authorities take strong steps so that such controversies do not take place again. We need to have a strong code of conduct like what we have for Mumbai Indians. But the important thing is that the spirit of the game has survived. People still have enormous faith in the game. And this needs to be nurtured.
The BCCI and its president N Srinivasan are embroiled in a major controversy. Also politicians who cannot even wield a bat are muscling their way into cricket administration. Hasn’t all these given a very bad name to cricket?
I don’t wish to comment on those things.
There is a general perception that excessive importance is being given in our country to cricket which results in the neglect of other games like football, basketball etc. Please comment.
In fact, we are planning to enter the world of football in a big way. That is next on our agenda. We want to promote football in a big way. Next year will see a lot of action on that front. We will get coaches from abroad and conduct training camps here. Just as we have Mumbai Indians, we plans to have our own team. The game is very popular in Goa, Kerala and West Bengal. We want to popularise this great game all over the country. There is no much of talent in our country. We are still working out the details. But we will have a game plan in place soon. Football will get a huge boost across the country. It is a great team game. We are also looking at promoting basketball. In fact, we want the sports culture to prevail all over the country. The talent reserve in our country is huge. Schools can play a major role in this. I want every child in India to have an opportunity to take part in sports.