Ganguly taking over as BCCI President - A 360 Degree View
Fondly called Dada, Ganguly was always a players' captain during his tenure at the top for India and in his upcoming tenure, is expected to be equally diplomatic.
Last week, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) website underwent a major overhaul. From match images to trajectory viewer, pitch maps, beehive charts and bowling speed maps, the website has a slick, new-age look and feel, a far cry from the drab old website.
The revamp is perhaps part of the larger cleansing process that the BCCI is set to undergo on the administrative front. Sourav Ganguly, the unabashed former Indian skipper, is set to take over as BCCI President with the governing body looking to redeem its tarnished public image. His appointment comes on the back of a complex political setup that helped him edge Brijesh Patel to the post by gaining unanimous backing.
A number of factors worked in Ganguly's favour on that fateful day when the meeting, that began in the morning, stretched late into the night. From the vehement backing of former BCCI President Anurag Thakur to the considerable influence of Himanta Biswa Sarma, a BJP leader from Assam, the former Indian skipper sure had a dreamy night. But what possibly turned the tables entirely was his meeting with Home Minister, Amit Shah.
The larger political angle to Ganguly's appointment is that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is aiming to bring home the former Indian skipper to win over Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress in West Bengal. Ganguly is as popular a name in Bengal as any and with the West Bengal Assembly Polls scheduled for 2021, BJP could possibly want Ganguly, who carries brand value and a clean image, as it's face in the state. While the attempt to bring Ganguly on board was met with rejection in 2016, this time around the indications are that the cricketer is swayed, although he has categorically denied such link-ups.
It needed powerful forces for Ganguly to emerge triumphant over Brijesh Patel, strongly backed by former BCCI chief, N Srinivasan. The power battle quickly turned Ganguly's way primarily because the power thirsty Srinivasan and the Thakur clan had a common goal - oust the Committe of Administrators headed by Vinod Rai, who had staunchly stood against the BCCI forces despite constant attempts to silence him.
It's been three years since Thakur was sidelined from his role as President and the Supreme Court, which held de facto control of the Board, formed a Committe of Administrators to control operations. The CoA's term is coming to a close and BCCI will gain back authority under Ganguly now.
It is no secret that Srinivasan and Thakur don't see eye to eye in many matters. But the internal politics took a back seat as a common enemy stood against them. With Srinivasan changing allegiance, Ganguly's rise to power was a no-brainer. However, questions remain as to whether Ganguly's interest lies in just the cricketing side of things or if a larger political future with the BJP is in his sights.
Jay Shah (son of Amit Shah), who will be secretary, and Arun Singh Dhamal (brother of BJP MP Anurag Thakur), who will be treasurer, have evident BJP connections. Ganguly, on the other hand, has a mandatory cooling-off period after 10 months because he held the post of President of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) for the last five years, and an administrator can serve for only six successive years under the Lodha Committee rules.
So, why was Ganguly interested to contest in the first place? A possible political allegiance cannot be ruled out with the 2021 Assembly Polls. But being the adamant, reformative captain he was, Ganguly might not have a political future in mind at all.
Ganguly, on his part, has denied a political angle to it. His interest in Indian cricket is well known and even after his role in the BCCI office was finalised, Ganguly's first talk surrounded cricket, his first major meeting will involve a discussion with the selectors about MS Dhoni's future.
"My first priority will be to look after first class cricketers. I had requested to the CoA and they have not listened. Ranji Trophy cricket will be the focus. To take care of cricketers' financial interest," Ganguly said after he was unanimously backed to be the President. "Look at the cricket structure, look how governance happens—there is no smooth functioning.”
The clean image Ganguly has in the eyes of the public is a huge selling point for BCCI, which is returning to power. Fondly called Dada, Ganguly was always a players' captain during his tenure at the top for India and in his upcoming tenure, is expected to be equally diplomatic, a quality he possibly imbibed from his mentor, former BCCI President, late Jagmohan Dalmiya.
Dalmiya played a massive role in making the BCCI what it is today on the world map. From backing players ardently to bringing postive changes to the organisation, Dalmiya was an influential President and he also shared great camaraderie with Ganguly.
If the former Indian skipper's tenure as CAB President is anything to go by, he will be as exceptional as Dalmiya in this role. Given his cricket-first approach, Ganguly could well end up focusing more on junior and senior cricket too, a role that the secretary and joint secretary now fulfill.
Innovation was a big part of Ganguly's captaincy tenure and it could well continue in his role as BCCI President. At CAB, he organised a pink-ball match under lights, a first in Indian cricket and a concept the BCCI has stood against so far. But now we could see India playing a pink-ball Test with Ganguly at the helm of BCCI.
India's inability to bring home an ICC tournament since 2011 despite being the best all-round team in this period, will be another area Ganguly might focus on. The T20 World Cup in 2020 falls just outside his expected 10-month stint, but the building blocks to win that tournament could be laid in his regime.
While the future of Ravi Shastri appears secure, it is known that the Indian coach and Ganguly aren't exactly fond of each other. An indirect dig at Shastri was also taken by Ganguly in a recent presser. When asked if he had spoken to Ravi Shastri, Ganguly replied, saying, “Why? What has he done now?” while chuckling.
The short innings he has in sight could mean it is difficult to bring about wholesale changes. But his interests are strongly vested, at least from his words, in just cricket at the moment. For a supposedly corrupt organisation like the BCCI, that is a huge bonus. However, if Ganguly's reign does end in 10 months - a slight possibility does exist that it may not, if a proposed bill is passed - there might be no stopping BCCI from going downhill yet again.