Before the famous Test victory against Australia in Calcutta (now Kolkata), before he waved his T-shirt from the balcony of Lord’s in front of millions of viewers across the world, before he led India to a victory against Pakistan in the World Cup of 2003, before Greg Chappel disrupted his career with his coaching shenanigans, and before his final test at Nagpur against Australia, Sourav Ganguly, the man next to god on the off-side, accomplished something far more unthinkable.
He got millions of Indians to believe in cricket again.
This was in the early 2000s when the match-fixing scandal had rocked the foundations of Indian cricket.
Ganguly took over the leadership from Sachin Tendulkar, a reluctant captain, and thus followed years of success for the Indian team at home and often, as a visiting team. One of the most memorable success stories being the Border-Gavaskar trophy in Australia in 2003-2004 which India retained.
More than 18-years later, Ganguly finds himself in similar, but bigger, shoes again, this time not as the captain of the Indian cricket team, but of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
BCCI’s tryst with the law happened in the aftermath of the 2013 Indian Premier League (IPL) betting scandal. The Lodha committee was established to improve the functioning and to usher transparency in the working of the BCCI.
Thus, Ganguly will be the first president of the BCCI later this month since the setting up of the Lodha committee, succeeding C K Khanna who finishes his tenure as the interim president. He will be assisted by Jay Shah, son of Amit Shah, who is the new BCCI secretary, and Arun Singh Dhumal, brother of BJP leader and Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur.
The challenges before Ganguly are many.
Firstly, there is the issue of conflict of interest. The magnitude of this issue can be gauged by the fact that Rahul Dravid, of all people, had to testify before a committee for the allegations made against him, given he was chosen as the head of the National Cricket Academy and is also the vice-president of India Cements, co-owners of IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings.
The problem of conflict has been in the appointments of batting coaches, fielding coaches, and if former players need to be made a part of the system, they must also be free to opt for positions of commentary or coaching at the state level. Ganguly, after filing his nomination, expressed his desire to solve this intricate issue as the president.
Two, Ganguly wants to take up the issue of remuneration for first-class cricketers. Speaking to the media, Ganguly stated how important it was to ensure the financial security of our first-class cricketers. Since his playing days, Ganguly has stressed on the importance of domestic cricket and the critical role it plays in readying players for the national team.
Three, there is also the issue of revenue distribution with the ICC. Under the new laws, the share of revenue BCCI receives from the ICC has decreased over the last few years. Given the amount of cricketing audience India has and also its role as the major revenue generator, Ganguly would be expected to work out a favourable deal with the ICC on this front.
However, Ganguly also faces the challenge of time given his tenure will not last for more than 10-months.
As per the regulations framed by the Lodha Committee, Ganguly’s 10-month tenure as the BCCI president along with his tenure as the president of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) for more than five years amount to six years in the administration.
Under the new rules, for any administrator, a six-year serving period must be followed by a three-year cooling-off period. However, his experience with the CAB would be instrumental when he takes over the presidency of the BCCI.
While Ganguly may not be able to chair wide-ranging reforms in his short tenure, he may well address some critical issues that today plague the BCCI and set a firm foundation for the next president in 2020.
In the 2000s, Ganguly made cricket in India great again. In 2019, he is trusted to do the same for the BCCI. He is the cricketing mind India needs right now.
Tushar is a senior-sub-editor at Swarajya. He tweets at @Tushar15_
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