The Supreme Court has certainly made an unusual choice for the immediate fate of the BCCI. Appointing a four-member panel of administrators to run India’s premiere cricketing body, the apex court has called upon a historian (Ram Guha), a former government auditor (Vinod Rai), a banker (Vinod Limaye) and a lone cricketer.
What’s most interesting is that the only cricketer the court chose is also the sole woman on the panel – Diana Edulji.
Soon after the news of the panel broke on Monday afternoon, Diana herself told Hindustan Times that she was surprised to be the only ex-cricketer named to the panel. But don’t be fooled, even a casual look at Diana’s life will tell you she’s more than qualified for the job.
Want a cricketing pedigree? Diana made her international debut in 1976, and by 1978, she was captaining the Indian women’s ODI team. She then had a long and successful career, playing her last international match in 1993. In that time, she scalped 63 test wickets, and 46 one-day wickets over the course of 20 tests and 34 ODIs.
For that amazing career, she was awarded the Arjuna Award in 1983, and the Padma Shri in 2002.
But what about administrative experience? Diana has been the Sports Officer for the Western Railways, where she was in charge of over 500 athletes.
As she told Espncricinfo, "I was administrating 40 games and 40 teams there. Right from the recruitment to the promotions, to the practice sessions, to the departmental tournaments, everything was looked after.”
What you have to admire most is her grit and no-nonsense attitude. Most famously, Diana was denied entry to the Lord’s Club in London, when the Indian team with Diana at the helm was touring England in 1986. She then told the Marylebone Cricket Club that it should more aptly rename itself the MCP (for male chauvinist pig).
But less well known is her encounter with BCCI president N Srinivasan, who told her that, “If I had my way I won’t allow your women’s team to play cricket only.” He also added that when it came to women’s cricket, “I’m not interested, we have no choice but to run it, so we are running it for sake of running it.”
Through her career, Diana has faced more than her share of such indifference and apathy, but that hasn’t stopped her from being one of the most outspoken spokespersons for women’s cricket. She has time and again slammed the BCCI for its gender bias and double-standards towards the women’s team.
She has also had repeated disputes with BCCI officials over the abysmal match fees for women cricketers, their pensions and so on.
And now that she’s sitting where Srinivasan sat, or at least close enough to make a difference, Diana has said that she’s determined to bring changes to how women’s cricket is administered in the country. One of her first plans is to get the Indian women’s team playing more test cricket.
Besides that, she also intends to focus on the formation of a players’ association, which will give cricketers a forum to air their grievances and build their independence.