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Sourav Ganguly as ICC Chairman - Yay or Nay?

Sourav Ganguly as ICC Chairman – Yay or Nay?

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“From our perspective, it would be great to see a cricket man like Sourav Ganguly may be getting into the President’s role of the ICC,” said Graeme Smith – Director of Cricket at Cricket South Africa – earlier this week. The former South Africa captain felt that Ganguly’s appointment would be good for the modern game as well.

Last week, David Gower, the eloquent former left-hand batsman from England, said that Ganguly could well become the next ICC Chairman given the way he has administered BCCI so far.

“He is a very, very good man and has those political skills. And, if you do a good job as BCCI chief, in the future, who knows,” he said in a chat show for fans presented by GloFans.

These comments come at a fascinating period. Ganguly’s tenure as the president of Board of Control for Cricket in India ends in July. Post which, he has to serve a three-year cooling-off period before taking up any job at the BCCI or state associations. It is one of those many Lodha committee reforms against which the board has moved to the Supreme Court.

Shashank Manohar, who has been the independent chairman of ICC since June 2016, had said last year that he would not run for a third two-year posting in 2020. With the elections for International Cricket Council’s chairman slated in July, one could not help but wonder whether Ganguly is eyeing the top position in ICC. However, Ganguly has maintained a low profile for a while now. The last one heard from Ganguly was in the ‘100 Hours 100 Stars’, an initiative started by Fever Network at the start of May when he compared the current pandemic situation to a Test match.

Known for his aggressive attitude and leadership skills on the field, Ganguly has earned respect in world cricket. More importantly, he has managed to keep it intact even after a decade since he retired. Administering the sport is not the same as captaining a team. For cricket, especially in India, is more politics than just skill and efficiency in the thought process.

If there is any cricketer who was up for that kind of a job, it was Ganguly. In fact, his administrative skills were applauded for the work he did with the Cricket Association of Bengal. With BCCI though, he has had only nine months at the office. It is hard to judge someone’s efficacy in just nine months, especially, when the last quarter of the tenure was put to halt by the pandemic.

Sourav Ganguly has always been clear about the things that he wanted to accomplish both as a captain and an administrator. Like Gower said, “He has listened, given his own opinion and has pulled strings gently.” It is an opinion echoed by Naresh Ojha, who was the CAB vice-president when Ganguly held the office.

In short, Ganguly knows how to get a job done. It is a very critical credential for someone who’s heading an organisation like the ICC or the BCCI.

For example, the BCCI scheduled their first-ever day-night Test match against Bangladesh in last November at Kolkata. Prior to that series, Bangladesh players went on a strike due to low pay and a few other reasons. They were threatening to boycott the series. Unfazed by all of this, an uber-cool Sourav Ganguly said, “It’s an internal matter, they will sort it out. No, no, they’ll come.”

He went on to say that he had spoken to the Bangladesh Prime Minister, who will be attending the event, “Bangladesh PM has confirmed her presence for the Test between India and Bangladesh at Kolkata. If she has given her consent for the tour, I do not see any reason as to why their national players won’t.”

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While these are the kind of political acumen that would come in handy for an ICC chairman, what really matters more for a global administrator is the vision and intention towards the job. For, ICC’s primary job would be promoting cricket as a global sport, while making sure that all the cricket associations are financially steady. Here is where one needs to look at Ganguly, for what he has said and done as the president of BCCI.

In his first press conference as the BCCI president, he spoke about working with the ICC to get the revenue share that India deserved. He followed it up with the idea of ‘Super Series’ where India, Australia and England would get to play more matches amongst themselves. When ICC proposed an extra global event, BCCI was the first to jump in and object. One might argue that Ganguly was doing his job as the BCCI president. But, wasn’t he supposed to bring in the revolution and change as he himself said on multiple occasions that he took up the job when the BCCI was under a crisis.

The BCCI was administered by the Committee of Administrators before him. Soon after he became president, the board went to court to dilute the reforms made by the Lodha committee to bring in reforms in the way the body was run. The case is still in court. Ganguly hasn’t spoken much about women’s cricket so far. While there was nothing on his first day, earlier this year, he announced that there would be a four-team Women’s T20 Challenge. If someone is to hold the top post in the ICC, they ought to do better.

The BCCI, as the richest cricket body, have to be leading the way in making the sport popular with Sourav Ganguly at the helm. It would have given a different look to the board from that of the past. The fiasco of the ‘Big Three’ and the allegations on the former ICC president N Srinivasan had left the global cricketing community with a sour taste when it comes to the BCCI. Despite the controversies, BCCI has managed to hold firm control with the financial power that it has over the sport. If Ganguly is to take over the ICC, his vision should be different.

Ganguly is known for his aggressive approach and personality as a player. When things did not go his way, he found his own way of turning the tide around by doing what it takes. One can’t help but remember the time when he went against Jagmohan Dalmiya, who played a crucial role in developing his career.

As Ganguly became the BCCI president, it was the junior Dalmiya – Avishek – who took over the proceedings at the CAB. It has been reported that the meeting Ganguly had with Home Minister Amit Shah, who is also the father of BCCI secretary Jay Shah, played a pivotal role in declaring him as the unanimous candidate for BCCI President.

For someone who takes over the ICC to have the kind of ego (If one may call it so) like Ganguly, it might not be the best of decisions for the boards who are struggling with their finances and the associate nations. With the ICC’s Nominations committee set to meet on May 26 to formalise the election procedure, BCCI Treasurer Arun Dhumal has said that they would prefer an Indian at the helm. It is also to be noted that Ganguly was the BCCI representative in the last ICC board meeting.

It is still unclear whether Sourav Ganguly would become the ICC Chairman. However, from what has happened in the last decade or so with the ICC and BCCI, one can say rather assuredly that things might not change from the way it has been so far.

Like Gower said, “Being head of ICC is an honour… But look at where the power is. BCCI is definitely the bigger job.”