Sourav Ganguly is the president-elect of BCCI. He will officially take over on October 23, although he has already spoken on his priorities and how he is going to address important aspects of Indian cricket.
Ganguly, who insists he did not think he would become the BCCI president so soon, showed all traits of a good politician and a cricket czar. He smartly diverted all questions on the shenanigans that paved the way for his election, articulately covering all his flanks and answering inconvenient questions with a straight face.
Why did he choose a 10-month term instead of waiting for his turn three years down the road? There is a catch. He must have got an assurance from powerful people in the government that the new sports code will have suitable changes to make politicians and above-age cricket administrators happy. The buzz is that the age limit is likely to be raised to 75.
In any case, both Justice Lodha and Justice Mudgal, who went into the case of corruption in IPL, must be feeling cheated today as all their effort has almost come to nought on key issues and it is back to business as usual. So much of money and time was spent on framing the recommendations. Come to think of it, the BCCI was still the best-administered body when the Supreme Court-appointed the Lodha Committee to overhaul its administration.
Ganguly chose all the right points to talk on, for instance the much-maligned cricket administration, calling it an emergency situation. He said he’s happy to be at the right place at the right time and hoped to turn it around. He sent out a conciliatory message to N Srinivasan after checkmating his candidate Brijesh Patel from becoming president. Srinivasan would have been pleased to hear Ganguly say that India should get the respect it deserves as the powerhouse in world cricket.
His comments will also make Virat Kohli’s team, which he termed “probably the best in the world at the moment,” happy. On the resumption of Indo-Pakistan cricket ties, he followed the template of his predecessors, saying it is for Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Imran Khan to jointly approve bilateral series between the two countries.
He was the second last India captain to take the side to Pakistan in 2004, though the neighbours visited India for a short tour of two T20Is and three ODIs in 2012. As suspected, he said he would speak to the new national selection committee on Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s future as international cricketer and also the former India captain.
Surprisingly, no one asked him about the future of Ravi Shastri as India coach, knowing what the two think about the other. Shastri, whose term as India coach ends with the 2021 T20 World Cup in India, will outlast Ganguly’s 10-month reign as board president provided the board chief’s term goes by the rule book.
Before that, India’s fate in the World Test Championship will be known in the 2021 English summer. If India win the first-ever Test championship, there will be no stopping Shastri getting an extension, unless he himself decides against continuing. Soon after getting elected unopposed in the typical cricket board style of arriving at consensus over key office-bearers and their “unanimous” election, Ganguly said his topmost priority as president would be to make first-class cricket worthwhile for the state-level players.
More than anything, he is sure to get rid of the vexed “conflict of interest” issue which he successfully circumvented over the years. He is right, if Indian cricket needs the best people to serve it, you can’t tell a player to give up his livelihood for a fixed-term job in the board. In a give-and-take bonhomie, the other office-bearers have been elected, all with a pedigree. No one talks of dynasty rule any more as most state associations have again become family limited companies.
(The writer is a veteran commentator. Views expressed are personal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org).