How good a leader will Sourav Ganguly be as the BCCI’s captain?

B Baskar | Updated on October 17, 2019 Published on October 17, 2019

BCCI President-designate Sourav Ganguly seated in his chamber at Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) office, in Kolkata, on Wednesday, October 16, 2019. – PTI

The former Indian captain’s anointment as the cricket board’s chief has been lauded all around. His new innings, like his captaincy, begins during a time of turmoil. And that is why many think he’s the best person for the job, and expect him to have the same success

Former India captain Sourav Ganguly has been appointed the President of the powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Indian cricket administration has been going through a tumultuous period since the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) was put in charge of the apex cricket body and asked to implement the Lodha Committee’s reforms.

He was unanimously elected as BCCI President after last-minute parleys between the various factions avoided an election and by making Brijesh Patel withdraw his candidature. The stage is now set for the BCCI’s annual general meeting on October 23.

The two major factions – the N Srinivasan group and Anurag Thakur’s group – decided to join hands and anoint Ganguly, hoping to end the turmoil of the last few years.

Meanwhile, Ganguly’s meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah and the minister’s son Jay Shah becoming Secretary has raised more than a few eyebrows.

Best choice’

Nevertheless, the consensus is that Ganguly is the best choice under the circumstances. More than one commentator has alluded to the period when Ganguly took over as India captain, also at a time when Indian cricket was in turmoil.

It was the turn of the last century and the cricket world had exploded with the match-fixing scandal. There was a feeling of cynicism that pervaded the atmosphere among fans and players alike. The then BCCI selectors must be commended for reposing their faith in Ganguly to pull Indian cricket out of the morass it had sunk into. It turned out to be an inspired choice as the Indian cricket team started playing to its potential under the charismatic cricketer.

The team went on to become the top-ranked team by the end of the first decade of the century. Though this feat was achieved under MS Dhoni’s captaincy the seeds were no doubt sown by Ganguly.

Cricket administrator

The former Indian captain is no stranger to cricket administration. He was the late Jagmohan Dalmiya’s protégé and served under him at the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB). He entered the CAB in 2009 and went on to become its joint secretary in 2014. After Dalmiya’s demise, Ganguly led the CAB as its President with Bengal Chief Minister’s Mamata Banerjee’s blessings.

Ganguly has also served the BCCI in various capacities. He was a member of the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) along with VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar. He was also chairman of the BCCI technical committee and a member of the IPL governing council.

Ganguly’s focus areas

Ganguly has listed three areas as priority -- the state of domestic cricket, the vexatious ‘conflict of interest’ issue and getting the BCCI its fair share of revenue from the International Cricket Council.

Indian cricket, in recent times, has tied itself in knots over the ‘conflict of interest’ issue, which has scalded even Rahul Dravid, who was India’s under-19 coach and is now chief of the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. Interestingly, all the ‘conflict of interest’ complaints to the CoA have emanated from Sanjeev Gupta, life member of the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association.

Domestic cricket, the nursery from which international cricketers are picked, is in dire need of a makeover. Ranji Trophy matches played on lifeless pitches and to empty stadia have been the norm over the last couple of decades. Old-timers never tire of recalling days when a Bombay-Karnataka or Tamil Nadu-Hyderabad match was played in front of near-packed houses.

If Ganguly could get international cricketers to play at least a half-a-dozen Ranji matches every season that would inject a healthy dose of competition into the premier domestic tournament. It would also allow our talented youngsters to test their skills against the best of international cricketers.

Political innings next?

Ganguly’s closeness to Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is an open secret. His meeting Home Minister Amit Shah, too, set tongues wagging. Veteran journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, in his book ‘Democracy’s XI’, had speculated about Ganguly one day occupying the Bengal chief minister’s chair, though the former cricketer was dismissive of this possibility.

Still, many believe the ‘Dada’s’ stint with the BCCI may well be prelude to his walking out someday soon to play a political innings.

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Published on October 17, 2019
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