Sourav Ganguly: The new BCCI president set to deal with people's expectations
If backroom conversations are to be believed, the ICC is also more than amenable in extending a hand of support to Ganguly and win back the trust of the BCCI.
The day started really early for Sourav Ganguly. By 8 am he was ready and meeting associates from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Carrying his laptop in a backpack, he was every bit not what the traditional notion of a BCCI president has been. He is a cricketer first and administrator thereafter and that was the message he was conveying while obliging fans for autographs.
“This is a body that is meant for cricketers and fans. They are the two most important constituents of Indian cricket,” Ganguly, who wore the same BCCI blazer that he had used in the 2003 World Cup final in South Africa, said.
“There is no need to complicate things. Indian cricket is what it is because of the cricketers and the fans. The players play for the fans to watch and it is our duty to empower them both.
“All this money is for who? To benefit who and support who all? It is to make sure that India continues to be the powerhouse that it is and the talent that we have at every level is harnessed to full effect. That’s where the money will come of real use. Make the first-class cricketer proud of what he is doing, make the fan feel delighted to come out and support his team, be it the national side or the state side or his favoured IPL team. As long as we are able to do that, Indian cricket will be in fine fettle,” he argued.
A lot is being said about Ganguly wanting to relook at certain decisions taken during the tenure of the Committee of Administrators (CoA). While the Supreme Court has already indemnified all actions taken in the last 33 months, as understood having spoken to Ganguly on a couple of occasions, ‘witch-hunt’ or ‘vendetta’ isn’t part of his vision for Indian cricket.
“All that matters is performance,” he told this writer. “Nothing else matters. All I want as BCCI president is that my team delivers on the field and if that happens, which is what is happening at the moment, nothing else is of any consequence to me.”
The other issue doing the rounds is what is going to happen between the BCCI and the International Cricket Council (ICC). While Ganguly is clear that the BCCI needs to win back the respect and credibility it deserves at the ICC, there is very little chance he will adopt a path of open confrontation.
If backroom conversations are to be believed, the ICC is also more than amenable in extending a hand of support to Ganguly and win back the trust of the BCCI. That the ICC and the BCCI need to work together is something that is known to both Sourav and ICC chairman Shashank Manohar and it appears both will try to mend bridges at the earliest.
More than firefighting, what are the steps Sourav can take to make this brief tenure worthwhile? How does he plan to double the match fee for the first-class players and make cricket the most lucrative career option in the country?
Can he just dig into the BCCI’s coffers or will he try and add to the existing revenue stream to give himself the ammunition to pass on the benefits to the first-class cricketers?
India, for the record, was slow in taking to T20 cricket. It was all a catch-up game and the IPL is what turned the fortunes of the BCCI around. T20, for the record, began in England before the BCCI managed to take control. Now England are already doing The Hundred.
Can the BCCI, for example, take the lead in T10, a format that is now being played but not yet appropriated by the ICC? Can the existing IPL teams play a T10 competition in September every year, a window of 2 weeks that was earlier reserved for the Champions League?
Will such a tournament appeal to the board’s broadcasters and will the franchises be keen to accept such a proposition? Most importantly, will Ganguly want to take the radical plunge thinking this is the route world cricket will take to make it to the Olympics in some years?
The next 10 months will be closely monitored by the global cricket media. Ganguly has come as a beacon of hope and now it’s on him and his team to satisfy the humongous expectations that people have of them.
To go back to what Ganguly said earlier: ‘the game is for the cricketers and the fans. Everything else comes later.’ As long as Ganguly is true to his basic mantra, you would want to bank on him and his team.