New Delhi: His integrity might have been questioned several times ever since the IPL spot-fixing scandal broke out but BCCI president N Srinivasan says he is a "very honest" man, who was "unfairly attacked" at the peak of the controversy that shook Indian cricket.
Srinivasan, who was recently given the go ahead to take charge as BCCI president by the Supreme Court, insisted that he was targeted by the media for no good reason.
"I am honest, very honest. And, I think my character has been seen in the last few months," said the Tamil Nadu businessman in an interview to ESPNCricinfo.
Srinivasan's name was dragged into the scandal when his son-in-law and Chennai Super Kings team principal Gurunath Meiyappan was arrested for alleged betting in the IPL. Meiyappan has since been chargesheeted by the Mumbai police in the case.
Asked how he reacted when the Supreme Court allowed him to take charge, Srinivasan said, "I was pleased. People who have known me for a long time will believe what I say. In the sense that I am a person who has always focused on what to do next."
"I don't carry any grudges, I don't have any such feelings at all. That's how I am. People who have known me for years will attest to it. I will just move on. This happened, okay, fine, I dealt with it, I am glad, I am back, I go on," he added.
When questioned on the issue of propriety and the public opinion, Srinivasan remained defiant.
"See, I can't do anything about that (public opinion). It doesn't affect me. It doesn't affect me because when I am not in the BCCI I will not merit one line in any newspaper, so why must I worry about the 20 lines now?" he asked.
Srinivasan reiterated that he never interfered in the functioning of the BCCI probe panel, which was later deemed illegal by the Bombay High Court, to investigate the IPL scandal.
Despite being held responsible for everything that went wrong with the BCCI and the IPL, Srinivasan said he remained unfazed and used his time away from the Board to improve his golfing skills.
"Since I had stepped aside from cricket, I was able to play golf. Administering the BCCI and running my own business takes a lot of time. So my spare time got eaten into. So the truth is, during this period I could afford to try to get my swing back again," he said.
"I won't call it tough or difficult. I felt I had been unfairly attacked. It was a continuous attack on me. As I said somewhere, one particular paper had about 90 pieces written about me, 11-12 editorials, and I was occupying the entire front page for 10-11 days. This has never happened in independent India. Am I worth that much of coverage? I am not that big a businessman. BCCI is not that big," he added.
"I had not done anything wrong, and then I stepped aside. And then the BCCI working committee, at a meeting which I did not attend because I had stepped aside, appointed this probe commission. Somehow it got represented as if I (appointed it). I did not...So how am I to be blamed for that?" he asked.
Srinivasan said he has no issues with those who spoke against him during the turmoil.
"I am not an autocrat. I don't want to get into debates. I have a job to do, and I will do my job. I realise this is not a permanent job. This is not my bread and butter, it's an honorary job," he said.
From the IPL to the still-uncertain tour of South Africa, Srinivasan was asked why the BCCI was taking so long to finalise the much-anticipated trip.
"One of the reasons was we felt that we should be (playing) more international cricket in India during our season, and there should be a balance between inbound and outbound tours. And we felt that this year we had very little international cricket (in India), and therefore we needed to supplement it, so we invited the West Indies. This was the thought process," he explained.
"If you look at our calendar, we'll be hosting Australia, then the West Indies, then we are supposed to go to South Africa, then New Zealand, come back and play Asia Cup, play the World Twenty20, come for IPL, go to England. It was a very long, tough programme, so we also wanted to lessen the strain if possible", Srinivasan said.
"Unfortunately there was a lot of media speculation on whether the tour is on etc, and on news emanating from South Africa. We did not make any comment. We did not say anything about this. In fact, until now we have said nothing," he said.
Asked if it had anything to do with Cricket South Africa appointing Haroon Lorgat as its CEO given that the former ICC CEO did not have the best of relations with the BCCI, Srinivasan said, "We are not anyone to say who should or should not be the chief executive of another board. But there are some challenges."
"Maybe after discussions I might talk about it. I should not prejudice the discussions by talking about it now. So talk to me in a few days' time. I don't want to discuss it now," he added.