The war of words between former skippers Sourav Ganguly and Ravi Shastri has come at the worst possible time for the BCCI.
Already under pressure from Justice (retd) RM Lodha panel for failing to adhere to transparency rules in deciding matters and other transgressions, this tiff over the appointment of Anil Kumble, which was again shrouded in mystery, will hurt the cricket body’s image.
The BCCI didn’t help its cause when it announced Kumble’s name by providing few details about the process, leading contenders and what influenced it to pick Kumble over Shastri, or for that matter any other contender as Australian Tom Moody was also in the race.
This public spat between Shastri and Ganguly, unless it is brought to an end quickly, will hurt the cricket body. The Greg Chappell saga is something which is still spoken about, and conspiracy theories will abound unless the BCCI intervenes quickly.
Kumble’s appointment last week made him the first national cricket coach from home since the Indian board began appointing foreigners in 2000, starting with New Zealand’s John Wright.
However, instead of attention turning to what India’s greatest bowler brings to the table, especially in a young Test squad led by Virat Kohli, the spat between two big names have dominated discussion.
Shastri’s comments that Ganguly, a key member of the cricket advisory committee that shortlisted the names of coaches before the BCCI announced Kumble’s name, was absent when he made his presentation came as a big surprise.
As team director, he especially teamed up well with Test skipper Kohli after Duncan Fletcher’s tenure ended with the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, Shastri was a frontrunner. That is until Kumble came into the picture after the initial list had been pruned to 21.
Question mark over selection process
Shastri saying that former skipper Ganguly, president of the Cricket Association of Bengal, was disrespectful to the process as he chose to attend an association meeting instead of sitting in on the interview raises questions whether there was something amiss about the process.
However, Ganguly ticking off Shastri that he was “living in a fool’s paradise” if he thought he alone decided on the appointment, while being a typically blunt response, is not going to lay the issue to rest. Instead, it can only show Indian cricket in a bad light.
Both Shastri and Ganguly have played admirable roles as players. While the former has always been a part of BCCI in one role or another, Ganguly is expected to go a long away as administrator.
There is no guarantee other Indian cricket stalwarts may not take positions on this issue, which can only hurt the image of BCCI just when it seeks goodwill to win a perception battle it has consistently lost in the wake of the conflict of interest and IPL spot-fixing cases.