‘If anybody has to treat players, they will have to come to NCA’: Sourav Ganguly
Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Sourav Ganguly set the record straight on the National Cricket Academy (NCA), asserting that all senior players must go through the process put in place at the NCA for post-injury rehabilitation. He also defended the idea of a four-nation Super Series involving Australia, England and one more nation, saying it makes for quality cricket in what could be a niche tournament for the future.
In a chat with Hindustan Times, Ganguly spoke on the proposed four-nation Super Series, revamping the National Cricket Academy, why he gives a thumbs up to the “Yo-Yo test” and how he plans to bring the crowds back to Test matches.
There is some apprehension among India bowlers about using National Cricket Academy (NCA) facilities. Could you shed some light?
I met Rahul Dravid yesterday, and we have put a system in place. The bowlers will have to go to the NCA. If anybody (else) has to treat them, they will have to come to NCA.
Do players have issues with the NCA training personnel or facilities?
Whatever may be the reason, we will accommodate everything. We will also make sure the players are comfortable and they don’t feel left out or out of place. So, we will do it that way.
A lot needs to be done at the NCA. How do you plan to go about it?
We are going full throttle with the NCA. Construction work will start (at the new land) and it will be a state-of-the-art unit. In 18 months time, if we are still there, you will see an NCA that will be spick and span.
The idea of a four-nation, limited-overs Super Series—involving India, Australia, England and another nation—how far do you plan to go to make it a reality?
It’s a proposal. Let’s see where it goes. The reason behind it is only to have a good, competitive tournament. So, that’s where it stands. We will have to get clearances from the broadcasters and ICC for a four-nation tournament. Then, there are the Future Tours Programme (FTP) areas to look at, as to where do we fit it within the FTP. But it’s just a way to create a niche tournament. We are looking for quality cricket. What we see today, is only bilaterals happening. People want to see a high class tournament and we are attempting to do it. Look at the crowds in the Boxing Day Test between Australia and New Zealand. So, that’s also one of the reasons. Pink Ball Test was one such effort to generate crowd interest.
Have you thought of the fourth nation?
It depends upon availability. We will try and pick the strongest team. The basic intention is that the standard of cricket should be very high.
How do you react to those who say only the three big Boards want to make more money?
How? There will be a fourth team as well. We have to just fit this tournament in the gap, which is the biggest challenge. The agenda just is a high class tournament with very powerful teams put together. Very rarely do you get to see India, Australia, England and South Africa or a New Zealand play a quadrangular tournament.
Many believe the BCCI doesn’t do enough to support smaller boards.
We do, when we go to their countries and the amount of money they generate (from that tour). We played the Pink Ball Test with Bangladesh, spending the amount of money.
Test cricket no longer has the sort of competition that it had, when you were playing. Your thoughts?
It (competition) is not there. It would have been great to have a Test series among the three (India, Australia and England). But that would require a lot of time, because they are all booked with the FTP and ICC Test Championship. (Then) We have the IPL, the Big Bash. There is not enough time.
But don’t you agree other teams are weak because their boards are weak?
I don’t think so. The West Indies team of earlier times—of Viv Richards, (Curtly) Amrose and (Courtney) Walsh—I am sure they did not have more money than they have now. It is never linked with money.
Are you saying one can always raise the bar with performance?
Yes, of course. Look, this Super Series is with the pure intention of good quality cricket.
When you look at the crowd the Boxing day Test generated in Australia, would you agree it is time India has its own showcase annual Test match, a day-night Test probably?
We will have to work towards that. It just gets people interested to come. If New Zealand was playing Australia somewhere else, on some other day, it would not have got the same attention. But Boxing Day gets people together. That’s why it is about trying to create events. The Pink Ball Test was an event. It will happen all around the country. It happened in Kolkata; it will happen in Mumbai, Bangalore, Gujarat and it will bring people back to Test cricket.
But to make it a regular feature, will you need to factor in a lot of other things?
One will have to look at playing conditions. Maybe, have one day-night Test match in a series.
Did the India team take it (day-night Test) well?
The team took it well. They were taken in by the people who came to watch. There were 60,000 people for Test cricket. It was like when we played and there were a lakh watching that (2001, Eden Gardens) Test against Australia. But at that time there was no T20. Kolkata had one game a year. Now it has nine games—seven IPL matches, one ODI and one Test match; so people have started choosing. Earlier there was no choice. It was party time for people and they would look forward to going to Eden Gardens with families in the winter. They would long to see (Sachin) Tendulkar bat, (Rahul) Dravid bat, (Anil) Kumble bowl. Now they get to see them (India cricketers) every day. So, it’s about making events.
The Pink Ball Test was your first big statement as president...
I didn’t think there would be so many people. I thought we would get good crowds, but not so many. We sold 15 tickets every minute. When our ticket-booking partners put up tickets online, they were sold out in two hours. That’s when we realised, this is big.
What’s your stance on the mandatory Yo-Yo fitness test for selection?
Every team management should have freedom to make its own decisions. If Virat Kohli, Ravi Shastri and the trainers feel that’s the way, so be it. We don’t need to poke our noses all the time. If they demand, the captain of the India team and trainers demand that we need to be at this (fitness) level, so be it.
Should this not be extended to the U-19 team as well?
Yes, why not? If you want to do it with the senior team, might as well do it when you are young. It makes it a lot easier.
We have a World Cup year coming. It’s an opportunity for the India team to set right their ICC world events record with the T20 World Cup...
I am sure Virat is putting all his efforts towards that. Ultimately, the players have to play. We are putting good systems in place. The players have to win and they have the team to win. But T20 cricket demands freedom to play freely without worrying about your place in the side. We as people, who are working behind the scenes, will try and create systems so that they can play without having to worry about anything else.