CHENNAI: Before announcing class in his first Test innings in 1996, Sourav Ganguly was low key on international debut, in an ODI in 1992. His foray into administration has followed a similar trajectory.
Quiet after being drafted into the post of the Cricket Association of Bengal’s joint-secretary under the late Jagmohan Dalmiya in 2014, Ganguly started making his presence felt following elevation to the association’s top post last September. Still to win an election, he has created ripples in BCCI too, as chairman of its technical committee. In six months of being made head of the committee that regulates playing conditions in domestic cricket, Ganguly has proposed Ranji Trophy games at neutral venues. Aimed at eradication of the growing tendency to doctor pitches in home games, it is also a call to discard a practice BCCI units have got used to.
While implementation of the idea is subject to approval of the board’s working committee amid voices for and against, the former captain’s attitude has drawn the attention of members, who are by and large against the Lodha panel recommendation to involve more players in administration.
“His thoughts are different. When he talks about betterment of cricket, you can make out that the words are of a person who has excelled as player at the highest level. It’s not easy to propose changes in something everybody is accustomed to. What the committee has said about neutral venues is based on truth,” said a unit head, who is part of the working committee.
Handpicked by the chief minister to head CAB after Dalmiya’s demise, Ganguly was prompt in showing at the regional level that he doesn’t treat conventions as sacrosanct. Other than addressing the long-standing problem of the Eden outfield, he ordered green wickets in local matches to help Ranji preparations and is about to conduct day-night matches with pink balls.
“Ganguly comes to meetings prepared. You can see he has done homework and knows what he’s talking about. There’s an effort on his part to take things to the next level. He’s communicative and seeks the opinion of other committee members. Whether these plans will be approved is up to the working committee, but you can’t overlook the fact that Ganguly is trying to make things happen,” someone who attended BCCI meetings with him told Express.
Election test remains
If there’s something board members think Ganguly has to prove, it’s in the game of winning elections. A section of CAB members were not happy that the chief minister had the last word in choosing the president rather than going by constitution, which specifies election. There is discontent in CAB over this, although following the TMC’s resounding success in recent assembly polls, chances of change at the top are minimal.
“It’s okay if someone becomes the state government’s choice, as long as nobody else contests. The real test of efficiency for a cricket administrator is in winning elections. For all his good thoughts, Ganguly has to do that when the time comes. Unless your position in the association you represent is solid, you can’t be sure of securing your position in BCCI,” said another unit head. The CAB’s annual general meeting takes place in the last week of July. Till Tuesday, there was no talk of Ganguly facing opposition.