Ganguly's election as chief fuses together worlds of cricket & administration
Ever since the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) rose to prominence as the richest cricket body in the world at the turn of the century, it has hardly ever been seen as a cornerstone of integrity. The BCCI has always been an entity seen with suspicion with Indian fans. They may love cricket, the Indian team and its star players but one would hardly find fans taking the name of the likes of N. Srinivasan and Sharad Pawar in the same breath as those of M.S. Dhoni or Tendulkar.
The election of Ganguly to the helm has, for the first time, given BCCI a different shade. All of a sudden, the board is headed by someone who is unconditionally loved by cricket fans across generations. He is also one that elicits a sense of nostalgia among those that grew up watching him in Indian colours, many of whom would be in their late 20's or early 30's and would form the crux of the demographic that buys tickets to go to the stadium or watch matches on television and streaming platforms.
Ganguly's election has thus fused together two very different worlds that formed the cricketing landscape in the country.
On one side is the team, which has consistently improved over the decades and are one of the dominant forces in world cricket. The star power of the players that constitute the team and their endorsement deals mean that it is always visible to the average Indian in one way or the other. The financial stability that comes with all this has seeped into the domestic system too and this means that an increasing number of children have taken to cricket as a profession. This has led to a conveyor belt of talent for the national team and thus produced a period of sustained dominance for India in world cricket.
On the other is the BCCI, which sits at the head of a system that is dogged by corruption of varying degrees across the country. The popularity of the sport and the attraction of the riches that it brings means that these associations have consistently churned out good players over the years but without something to stem the rot, this conveyor belt of talent could be affected.
Ganguly belongs to both worlds. He has spent four years as President of the Cricket Association of Bengal and as BCCI President, he has a chance at ensuring that, for the time that he is in office, the focus be on the cricket.
At the same time, however, Ganguly's star power does not give the BCCI the licence to stay above criticism. Athletes who have stayed honest to their sport in their playing days don't have to be the same to their office once they get into administration. The disgraced former UEFA president Michel Platini, considered one of the greatest French football players of all time, is just one of many examples of great athletes who tarnished their images with their deeds once they assumed positions of power.
Unlike Platini however, Ganguly does not have an extended window at the helm. He can be in office for only nine months before the cooling off period clause of the BCCI constitution kicks in. He himself has spoken of the pitfalls of taking up any role in the board in the current environment.
"The way the current constitution is framed, a lot of people are tentative to even decide on positions because if it is not good enough and if they can't make a difference, they don't want to be a part of it because they lost their position in the state association," he had said on October 14 after filing his nomination.
It can be inferred that Ganguly intends to leave a lasting impression in his brief tenure. He has got started with giving the prospect of India playing a day-night Test a big push and he has also spoken repeatedly of his thoughts on improving the lives of those that play domestic first class cricket.
Ganguly's election to the post by itself is one that leaves an impact. The former Indian captain will also now be remembered in the future as Sourav Ganguly, the former BCCI President and the latter post has the chance to affect his image more than the former simply due to it being more recent.
It now remains to be seen whether he can do to the BCCI what he is credited to have done for the Indian team -- infuse stability and set it on the path for future success.