Right words said, actions may reveal firmness
Trust Sourav Ganguly to choose his words aptly and be politically correct, most of the time. And whatever tone or style in which he makes a statement, you can also trust him to finally do what has to be done. That is how it was during his India captaincy.
After taking over as BCCI president on Wednesday, Ganguly spoke glowingly about the Indian team’s domination, Virat Kohli’s performances and the greatness of MS Dhoni.
While he meant every word at the media interaction, he will not shy away from taking steps that he believes are needed for the overall health of the team and Indian cricket. It’s why Kohli, coach Ravi Shastri and Dhoni will all wait to see how things unfold rather than go by Ganguly’s media statements.
There isn’t much to shake up in the Indian team’s set-up given the impressive recent results under Kohli and Shastri, but they may not get a free run to the extent they had under the Committee of Administrators. Under Ganguly, there is expectation that some procedure will be put in place to evaluate the team’s performances regularly. Ganguly said he will speak to Kohli on Thursday before the selection committee meets. He could also meet Shastri and some senior players.
After taking over as BCCI president though, Ganguly assured Kohli full support, like how he was backed as captain by the late Jagmohan Dalmiya. “When I was the captain and Jagmohan Dalmiya the president, I don’t remember a day when he said no to anything. Likewise, when N Srinivasan was the president and Dhoni was captain, you know how good the relation was.
“Virat is the captain now and his relation with me will be the same. Whatever he will require for the betterment of Indian cricket, he will get. He is a very big player… see his game in the last four to five years, he has taken Indian cricket to a different level. We are with him and we will remain with him. We will give him everything for his team to be the best.”
Under Kohli, there has been talk of a culture where the team has called the shots. Asked for his view on the captain and coach being all-powerful, Ganguly said performance will decide the future of Indian cricket. “I don’t know what transpired between CoA, Virat and Shastri, so I don’t know. A new body and new office-bearers have taken over; it will be a proper discussion and everything will be mutually discussed and taken forward. Rest assured we’re here to make their life easier and not make their life difficult; everything will be on the basis of performance and performance is the most important thing and that’s what will decide the future of Indian cricket.
“As I said Virat is the most important man in this entire context; we will be there to support him, we will listen to him because I have been a captain and understand from that position and we will deal with it. It will be mutual respect; opinions will be there and we will do whatever is best for the game.”
With the 2020 Twenty20 World Cup in Australia being India’s next big assignment, there is a thought Rohit Sharma could be considered for the T20 team’s captaincy. But Ganguly dismissed the spilt captaincy talk.
“This is the work of selectors, and when the issue will come up, we will decide. India is winning, there is no need for it. India is the best team in the world.”
After winning the series against South Africa, Kohli spoke about restricting Test venues in India to five, referring to the Test culture in old centres like Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata where Test cricket is still a big draw. In the last two decades, newer stadiums have come up all over the country, but attraction is mainly there for limited-overs cricket.
Ganguly said, “We have a lot of space and venues, so we’ll have to sit with him and see what he wants and take it forward. “I’ll speak to him tomorrow. He’s the captain of India, the most important man in Indian cricket. We’ll have a word with him and as I said we’ll support him in every possible way. He wants to make this team the best in the world. It’s been a great team to be honest, the way we have played cricket in the last three-four years. Yes, you can say they haven’t won the World Cup but you don’t win World Cups every time. We’ll support him for whatever he wants and make sure Indian cricket goes ahead smoothly.”
Dhoni hasn’t played since the World Cup semi-final loss, but hasn’t announced his retirement. The double World Cup-winning skipper had made his India debut under Ganguly.
“It depends on him (comeback). Even when I was left out and when the entire world said ‘he will never make it’, I believed in myself and came back and played for four years. Champions don’t finish quickly. I don’t know what is in his mind, what he thinks about his career. We will leave at that. He is one of the greats of the game. Over a period of time, his achievements, when you sit down and take note, you say wow. So, when I am around, everybody will be respected.”
Next month’s Bangladesh tour of India is under a cloud following a players’ strike. Ganguly said with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina having given her consent to attend the second Test at Eden Gardens, he didn’t see the players not turning up.
“Two days before, I spoke to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and she has agreed to come for the Test on November 22. When the Prime Minister has given consent, I don’t see the players not turning up. At the end of the day, it’s their internal matter...”