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The don of Tamil Nadu cricket
They say the TNCA does not stand for the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association anymore. These days, they call it the Tamil Nadu Cement Association. After India Cement's managing director N Srinivasan took over as TNCA president, the opposition quickly became non-existent, though a motley group of club members still remain who do not support Srinivasan.
Srinivasan took over as TNCA chief by replacing Ashok Kumbhat in 2002. He immediately made it clear his goal was the total domination of the district cricket bodies. "His agenda was clear. 'I am the boss and all of you will have to listen to me. Nobody will raise a voice against me, '" says a club official who does not want to be named.
The whole set-up at TNCA is now largely controlled by India Cements. The persons in the top three posts - president, secretary and joint secretary - are Srinivasan (India Cements owner), Kasi Viswanathan (retired cost department head of India Cements) and Dr G Natarajan (cousin of Srinivasan). Needless to say, Srinivasan runs TNCA with an iron hand.
"Srini is running TNCA as a monopoly and it has become an extension of his India Cements office. Your voice will never be heard if you defy his order. If you do so, you are identified as an enemy and sidelined, " said a club owner.
Srinivasan came to power with former BCCI chief AC Muthiah's support but soon outshone his mentor. Muthiah too understood and kept himself aloof from all TNCA activities. He sensed that Srinivasan had bigger goals and was not interested in working under his supervision. "It became evident after some time and I understood that Srini wanted to have his own set up to run the show at TNCA, " Muthiah now says.
A curious incident highlights how Srinivasan went about dismantling Muthiah's influence in the TNCA. During an AGM in 2006, the owner of Bookseller XI club, Radhakrishnan, unleashed a shocking, expletive-laden verbal attack on Muthiah, who was not present at the meeting. Radhakrishnan's comments were vehemently opposed by the members of the Muthiah group but Srinivasan turned a deaf ear to this attack on his former benefactor.
"It was pre-planned drama. The script was written by a ghost writer called Srinivasan. Radhakrishnan was instructed to do what he did. We couldn't believe our ears when we heard the kind of language used while attacking a person of Muthiah's stature. We all protested but Srinivasan only said, 'Everybody has a right to speak and I can't stop him, '" said a club official who attended the meeting.
India Cements, which has three teams - Vijay CC, Grand Slam and UFCC, T Nagar - in the TNCA first-division league, owns 14 teams in Tamil Nadu and sponsors 40 teams. People in the know say the TNCA leagues are largely controlled by India Cements since the other teams are not as financially strong.
"The TNCA first-division is a very well-organized league but if you look at the lower divisions, you can find a lot dubious activities. Most of the match officials are directly or indirectly connected to India Cements or Chennai Super Kings, " a former league-level cricketer said while admitting that Srinivasan also provides kits to the clubs and spends Rs 3000 per day for their food during the league.
"Everyone knows what is happening here but no one can protest. This will go on unless someone stronger than him can uproot him. Now, with so many direct allegations against him, we can only hope that the time has come for him to go, " a source said.
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