BENGALURU: If you want a glimpse into the simple life Roger Michael Humphrey Within lei, all you have to do is take a mid-afternoon metro ride on the purple line to MG Road in Bengaluru. Until last week, it was a common sight to find the 67-year-old among passengers getting off at Cubbon Park tube station.
From there, it used to be a short walk to the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, from where he performed his duties as the president of the Karnataka State Cricket Association.
Once asked about using public transport, the newly appointed president of the BCCI remarked, “It is not a question of luxury or status but a question of convenience for me.”
That’s Binny in a nutshell – practical, friendly and modest. A domestic warhorse who plied his trade for Karnataka and later Goa for nearly 16 seasons in a career spanning 136 First-Class and 113 List A matches, is better known as the 1983 World Cup hero, finishing as the highest wicket-taker (18) wickets). But there is more to the all-rounder than just his exploits on the field.
He is a player, coach, mentor, selector and seasoned administrator, who has often flown under the radar. Decorated but not celebrated.
Born into an Anglo-Indian family with six brothers, Binny grew up in the cantonment area of Benson Town, also known as the champion town for being home to many sports stalwarts of the city. A champion athlete specializing in javelin, discus, high jump and long jump, Binny took up competitive cricket in September 1973 and in January of the following year he played South Zone schools against North Zone schools in the Cooch Behar Trophy represent.
He made his Ranji Trophy debuted for Karnataka against Kerala in the 1975-76 season and was the architect of many a victory with both bat and ball. His consistent performances earned him the India Test cap in 1979, when he made his debut against Pakistan on home soil. After 27 Tests and 72 ODIs, he said adieu to international cricket after the World Cup in 1987.
Binny, only the third person in ODI history to open the batting and bowling afterwards Frasat Ali (East Africa) and Majid Khan (Pakistan), went on to play domestic cricket for Karnataka and then bowled for Goa in the 1989-90 season. A few years later he returned to his home state as the manager of the senior team.
Elaborating on his leadership qualities, former India speedster Javagal Srinath, who made his debut under Binny in the 1989-90 season, said, “Anil (Kumble) and I were blessed to play under Roger. He was a very non-interfering captain, who would just put his hand on your shoulder and say, ‘Do your best.’ As captain his expectations of us were reasonable and that helped us build our careers. His best quality as a leader was that he was quite ambitious and didn’t put pressure on the players. He made it easy for all of us to careers and that is one of the main reasons why so many of us excelled under his captaincy.”
Binny’s moment of glory as a coach came in 2000, when India won their first ever Under-19 World Cup. The tournament saw the rise of players like Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif and Reetinder Sodhi.
Binny also served as a national selector for three years and was known to withdraw when his son Stuart’s name came up.
The first Anglo-Indian player to earn the India cap, Binny had a brief foray into politics when he was the Anglo-Indian nominated member of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly.
Ravi Shastri on Roger Binny as BCCI President
Binny’s foray into administration was in 1997, when he was elected the vice-president of KSCA, and then again in 2010. He relinquished the post in 2012 when he was named a national selector. He returned in 2019 and won the presidential election by a good margin. He came to power at the height of the Karnataka Premier League match-fixing scandal and handled the situation with maturity, allowing the law to take its course.
Srinath, who was the secretary of KSCA with Binny as the vice president, pointed out, “He was hands-on as an administrator. He was instrumental in shaping the KSCA Academy. He spent a lot of time with young talent. The one Characteristically as an administrator, which is the key, is that he has the interests of cricket at heart. He thinks clearly and his decisions are measured and thoroughly thought through.”
Off the cricket radar, Binny is a wildlife enthusiast and an animal lover. Away from the hustle and bustle of city life, Binny likes to spend time surrounded by nature at his farmhouse in Bandipur with his dogs Tinkerbell, Elf, Marbles and Angel.