Sourav Ganguly, often referred to as the Prince of Kolkata, wears a new crown and would be aware of the great expectations from him.
For a man who has taken on leadership roles several times in his career with aplomb, on and off the field, to be president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India is indeed a big honour.
Ganguly knows along with the huge hype come the big questions for which he has to provide the answers. He has made the right noises to start with, talking about how first class cricket’s glory needs to be restored and how skipper Virat Kohli needs to be treated with utmost respect.
One would imagine, for a man who led on the field with swagger and inspired teammates to keep raising the bar, Ganguly will definitely get his colleagues in the BCCI to provide the necessary impetus. There are many who feel Ganguly is taking over at a time when the BCCI needs to get its lustre back.
To simply put the blame on the now defunct CoA (Committee of Administrators) is futile. In sport, as in life, one has to keep looking ahead and not get bogged down by what went wrong in the past. Agreed, the CoA, which was left with just two survivors — Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji, had reduced cricket administration to a comic status.
With the Prince of Kolkata slipping into his old India blazer and sitting in the plush BCCI office in Mumbai, he has conveyed a strong message. And that is, how he wants to be seen as a leader in charge of cricketing matters just the way he led Team India. There are people complimenting Ganguly for being trim as he is again fitting into a blazer which he wore with great pride.
One looks forward to that same pride when he steers the rudder for Indian cricket beyond the boundary. Just to jog the readers’ memory, Ganguly is not new to the crisis. When he took over as India captain after the infamous fixing crisis in 2000 which consumed Mohammad Azharuddin and a few more players, Ganguly handled the leadership role well. The team produced results and it was there for all to see.
To be sure, BCCI’s position in world cricket, viewed purely from the administrative setup, has changed drastically in the post-N.Srinivasan era. Whatever negative things one may say about Srinivasan, he had done a lot for the Indian cricketers, be it the playing ones or those who were past their prime.
In the International Cricket Council (ICC), the role played by NS, as he is popularly known, was huge. England, Australia and a few more countries may have seen him as a bully but Srinivasan had no qualms about the Big Three revenue model where a country like India was to get a larger share from the pie.
His logic was very simple, as India was providing maximum money to world cricket, there was nothing wrong if the country got more revenue share. This is in sharp contrast to the philosophy adopted by current ICC boss Shashank Manohar.
There have been some jokes doing the rounds as to how coach Ravi Shastri may be feeling insecure after the rise of Ganguly. Frankly speaking, Ganguly has a lot more to deal with right now and in the coming days. His interaction with skipper Virat Kohli was much anticipated and for the two leaders — on and off the field — to meet and discuss would have been fruitful.
On MS Dhoni and the selection committee tenure, again Ganguly has said the right things. Taking over at a time when he has just a 10-month tenure as BCCI president, it could be a race against time for Ganguly. Yet, for all those who have followed the Indian system at large, one should not be surprised if the BCCI constitution is amended and it later gets ratified by the Supreme Court of India so that Ganguly can have a longer, free run.
There is one big issue which Ganguly needs to address on a priority basis, the mushrooming of T20 leagues in many states. One has seen in recent times how the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) and the Karnataka Premier League (KPL) have hit the headlines for wrong reasons.
To be reading about betting/fixing and so on in these leagues with the direct involvement of players and coaches is very worrying. What is more damning is how the dirt in these leagues have an off-shore link. Definitely, this rocks the foundation of cricket at home even if it is a league that may appear small in nature but gets televised.
Ganguly will do well to ensure he takes the advice of the BCCI’s anti-corruption chief as well. Not only does the new BCCI boss need to stop the mushrooming of such leagues, but he also has to bat for laws to tackle the menace of cheats at large. If Dada manages to do that, he will acquire an image rather than life.