Prince of Kolkata takes throne in Mumbai
Ever since his cricket days came to an end, Sourav Ganguly has seldom worn his emotions on his sleeve in the public sphere. Wednesday morning, however, was one of those rare days. Understandable too, given that it was the day when Ganguly became the 39th president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Ganguly even went as far as taking a selfie from his hotel room overlooking Marine Drive, the stretch on which lies Wankhede Stadium -- his new office. His love affair with this particular ground dates back to his days of junior cricket in 1990, when he struck a hundred against Pakistan Under-19 in a Youth Test. Ganguly would later say that today he was reminded of that day, the first time he came to Wankhede Stadium.
On Wednesday, outside that same ground, Ganguly marked the completion of his cricketing journey from that ambitious junior cricketer to the most powerful man in Indian cricket; and perhaps across the sport.
The Wankhede old-timers remember a shy teenager first entering the ground’s dressing room for that Youth Test. Ganguly had his Walkman on, they say, and he sported a white T-shirt and grey trackpants. On Wednesday, he arrived at the ground’s Cricket Center in a SUV, dressed in formals. The colour combination, though, was the same from 29 years ago – white shirt and grey trousers.
But another piece of clothing came on just before Ganguly was declared BCCI’s first full-time president in nearly three years: his navy blue captain’s blazer. Beaming in front of the press, Ganguly said: “I got this (blazer) when I was captain of India and decided I will wear it (today) but did not realise that it was so loose.”
Drawing parallels to the day he wore the blazer for the first time, Ganguly spoke with admiration about the chair he will sit on for the length of his stint as BCCI president, which will last for the next 10 months. “It’s the first day I sat in this chair, and it was the same thing when I became the captain and I was given the blazer,” he said. “There were some great names who led the country before me and it’s the same thing here. I have a role to do and I will do it to the best of my ability.”
Clarity of mind coupled with a strong conviction were the keystones of Ganguly’s style of captaincy. He made it clear that he will lead the BCCI in a similar fashion. “I’ll do it the way I know, in the way I feel is best for BCCI, with no compromise on credibility and corruption free,” said Ganguly. “That’s the way I led India and that’s the way I will take forward this organisation in whatever time I have.”
Ganguly will be taking over the reins of the board at its most challenging hour -- a new constitution to abide to and a set of fresh and inexperienced office-bearers for a team. But it was a similarly turbulent situation on the field when Ganguly had taken over the captaincy reins; and back then he steered Indian cricket past that dark period of match-fixing with aplomb.
“It’s a new start for the BCCI. Coincidentally – fortunately or unfortunately – when I became captain it was a similar sort of a situation and I captained India for six years. And this is a similar sort of situation that now things need to be brought back in place, reforms need to be done, huge amounts of money needs to be paid to state associations. So it’s a completely new start,” he said. “From that point of view, I find myself in a position where I can make a change, and it’s a challenge.”
On the new top-brass of the board, Ganguly added: “It’s a pretty young group, Jay (Shah) is the secretary, Arun (Singh Dhumal) is the treasurer, Jayesh (George) is the joint-secretary. It’s a pretty young team so we will have to do a lot of hard work.”
On his very first day as BCCI president, Ganguly got down to business immediately and was locked in a meeting with the said office-bearers. Then, perhaps to demonstrate that change was already on its way, Ganguly and his new board members decided that the accounts will be passed in BCCI’s AGM and not in general body meetings, which the outgoing Committee of Administrators preferred.
“We sat with the staff, with the CEO, CFO and got updates on what happened in the last three years. So all these discussions have gone on -- financial issues of the board, expenses incurred -- and it will go ahead after this meeting,” said Ganguly. “ As I said, we are here to accommodate and make sure, most importantly, that the cricketers are at ease to play the game, whether it is first-class cricket, Test cricket, women’s cricket or the IPL. The biggest goal we have is to make their life lot more easier with our performance.”
The former India captain reiterated that the domestic cricket and cricketers will be his priority. “That will be the first thing we’ll do and we’ll get it done before the actual Ranji Trophy season starts,” he said. “We have to make sure the best tournament in the country is competitive, and it remains important to everyone. So it has to be the best, both structure-wise and financially, and that will happen.”
It is yet to be known if Ganguly will become BCCI’s representative at the ICC. With Shashank Manohar as the incumbent ICC chairman, a possible clash of egos and ideas could well be on the cards. The new BCCI chief, however, was adamant that one way or the other the BCCI will be given their monetary due.
“It has been decided (who will represent India at the ICC),” said Ganguly. “India is to get USD 372 million from the ICC in the five-year cycle... Till now we have got whatever it is and we will make sure we get our due. We will work with the ICC and take this forward.”
Once Ganguly and and BCCI secretary Shah call for the Annual General Meeting, the process of decision-making will begin. The first task in front of Ganguly will be to form a Cricket Advisory Committee. But getting cricketers of repute has become a challenge due to the stringent Conflict of Interest rules. “It (Conflict of Interest) has to change,” added Ganguly.
Minutes after the transfer of power from the CoA to Ganguly’s team, old guards like N Srinivasan, Niranjan Shah, Rajeev Shukla made an entry into the BCCI office even as the three-member CoA team of Vinod Rai, Diana Eduljee and Lt Gen (Rtd) Ravindra Thodge left the building.