Sourav Ganguly, the captain for crises
On Monday, soon after he emerged as a runaway favourite to take over the highest post in the Indian cricket board, the former India captain Sourav Ganguly faced the media with his blueprint for change.Updated: Oct 15, 2019 08:39 IST
Less than two decades after he was handed the reins on the field to take Indian cricket past the era of match-fixing, Sourav Ganguly finds himself tasked with an equally great challenge—that of giving the administrative end of Indian cricket a face-lift as the new president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). On Monday, soon after he emerged as a runaway favourite to take over the highest post in the Indian cricket board, the former India captain faced the media with his blueprint for change, touching upon various topics including conflict of interest and how he plans to secure the financial health of India’s first-class cricketers.
Ganguly was accompanied by BCCI’s old hands, N Srinivasan, Rajeev Shukla and Niranjan Shah, when he filed his nomination for the board president’s job here; he claimed he was surprised by the turn of events (Brijesh Patel was favourite for the role until Sunday night) when he said: “Till 10.30 pm last night, I was not even aware of this till I was told.”
Former India cricketer Patel, whose candidature was backed by Srinivasan, will now be the new IPL Chairman. Ganguly will now be the first president of the BCCI since the Lodha Committee reforms were implemented.
And because he was in one administrative role or the other for the last five years in the Cricket Association of Bengal—including CAB’s president—Ganguly will have to relinquish the board president’s chair by August 2020, as he would have completed six years as an administrator. On Monday, he highlighted his vision for Indian cricket before he enters a cooling off period from administration.
“It is a great responsibility. Even when I became captain (of the Indian cricket team) in 2000, there were issues to deal with (match-fixing), so it is great to be looked at as someone who can do things in a difficult situation,” said Ganguly.
Ganguly has in the past been outspoken on the subject of conflict of interest, stemming perhaps from the fact that he too was questioned for his dual role as CAB president and mentor of the IPL team, Delhi Capitals.
But like in the past, Ganguly maintained that the conflict of interest clause does little more than keep the best minds away from the game. “Conflict of Interest is an issue,” he said.
“And I am not sure whether we will get the services of the best cricketers in the system, because they will have other options to avail.”
Apart from Ganguly, his former cricketing colleagues Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman have also been questioned for their dual roles in the past and charged with being in conflict of interest. On the topic, Ganguly added: “Because if they come into the system and do not get to do what is their livelihood (as well), it is very difficult for them to be part of this system and make a difference.”
While Ganguly has already quit as mentor of the Capitals, he will now give up his role in the CAB after being officially unveiled as the president on October 23.
Meanwhile, Jay Shah, son of Home Minister Amit Shah, filed his nomination to become BCCI secretary and Arun Dhumal, the brother of former BCCI president Anurag Thakur, did the same to become the next board treasurer.
Asked what his first agenda as BCCI president would be, Ganguly said that his first priority is to provide financial security to India’s domestic cricketers. “I have been requesting that to the Committee of Administrators (CoA) for three years,” he said.
“So, that’s the first thing I will do. Their (domestic cricketers) remuneration needs to be increased manifold to set our first-class cricket in order.”
The bigger challenge, of course, is to change the how the BCCI is perceived by the general public and put the house in order. “In the next few months, we can put everything in place and bring normalcy back to Indian cricket again,” Ganguly said. “My colleagues, the eight people who are members of the Apex Council, we will all work together to regain the old glory of BCCI.”
“There is a lot of work to do, especially in administration. The last three years was like an emergency situation and hopefully normalcy returns,” he added. “As a team we have lot of things to do to get the house and office in order. And above all our cricket.”
It won’t be an easy job, but Ganguly, who has worked against the odds to help Indian cricket recover from the ghosts of match-fixing, could just be the man to do the impossible again—that of giving the Indian cricket board a makeover.