MUMBAI: Newly-elected BCCI president Sourav Ganguly reacts during a press conference on Wednesday.—Reuters
Published in Dawn on Oct 24th, 2019,
MUMBAI: Former captain Sourav Ganguly on Wednesday vowed to clean up Indian cricket as he was elected president of the sport’s rich and powerful but troubled national board.
Cricket’s massive popularity in India has made the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) by far the wealthiest of all the national boards, netting massive sums from sponsorship and TV deals.
But it has also been embroiled in a series of scandals, including accusations of corruption and match-fixing that tarnished the Indian Premier League (IPL) — the country’s lucrative Twenty20 extravaganza.
The appointment of the 47-year-old Ganguly — for an initial 10 months only — at a meeting in Mumbai on Wednesday ends more than two years of a committee appointed by India’s top court overseeing the board’s affairs.
“It’s an honour that I have been asked to take this role by the members when it’s a new start for the BCCI,” Ganguly, wearing his India captain’s blazer, said in his first address as BCCI chief. “Things need to be brought back in place, reforms need to done, huge amounts of money to be paid to state associations.
“It’s a challenge and I’ll do it the way I know. The way which I feel is best for BCCI with no compromise on credibility, corruption-free and same-for-all BCCI. That’s the way I led India and that’s the way I will take forward this organisation with whatever time I have.”
A corruption and match-fixing scandal in the sixth edition of the IPL in 2013 brought about the downfall of the board’s then-president Narayanaswami Srinivasan after his son-in-law was accused of betting on matches.
The appointment of his successor Anurag Thakur and his number two Ajay Shirke was seen as representing a break with the past.
But in January 2017 Thakur and Shirke were axed by the Supreme Court over their inability to enact a series of recommended reforms.
The order came after judges slapped restrictions on the BCCI’s accounts in 2016 over its failure to implement changes put forward by a panel headed by a former top judge, Rajendra Mal Lodha.
The court then appointed a top anti-corruption troubleshooter, Vinod Rai, as head of a team to oversee the running of board.
But the board’s reluctance to implement Lodha’s recommendations, which included age limits and term limits on office-bearers, had triggered a number of legal battles.
As a captain of India and as head of the Cricket Association of Bengal, Ganguly has been known for his hands-on approach.
The 47-year-old, however, described Test captain Virat Kohli as ‘the most important man in Indian cricket’ and promised all support to make India the best team in the world.
“He’s the captain of India and he’s the most important man in Indian cricket. We will support him in every possible way he wants to make this team the best in the world,” Ganguly said.
“It’s been a great team to be honest, the way they have played cricket in the last three-four years. They have been a fantastic side. Yes, they haven’t won a World Cup, but you don’t win a World Cup every time.”
The board will take care of first-class players and strengthen domestic cricket, added Ganguly, who played 113 Tests and 311 One-day Internationals and led India to 21 Test wins.
Jay Shah, son of India’s Home Minister Amit Shah, was also elected unopposed to the post of BCCI secretary.
Ganguly, meanwhile, is hopeful that Bangladesh will go ahead with their planned tour of the country for a bilateral series despite an ongoing strike by its players.
Bangladesh’s cricketers are on an indefinite strike until a list of demands are met by the country’s cricket board (BCB), skipper Shakib Al Hasan said on Monday, putting next month’s tour of India in doubt.
The tour, which starts on Nov 3, includes three Twenty20 Internationals and two Tests. Bangladesh announced a 15-man T20 squad last week with Shakib set to lead the side.
Ganguly, who hails from the Indian state of West Bengal, said Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has confirmed her presence at Eden Gardens in Kolkata for the second Test next month.
“I hope so because two days before, I spoke to the honourable Prime Minister of Bangladesh and she has agreed to come and visit for the test match when India play Bangladesh on Nov 22,” Ganguly said. “I’m sure when the Prime Minister has given consent, I don’t see the national team not turning up.
“But at the end of the day it’s their decision, it’s their internal matter where we do not have any say or we should not have any say.”
Published in Dawn, October 24th, 2019