It was like an emergency in the last three years: Sourav Ganguly
Ever since he returned to the city on Tuesday evening after being elected the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president on Sunday, Kolkata’s favourite ‘Dada’ has been in the middle of a flurry of activity wherever he goes. The scene was similar when CT reached the sets of his TV show, Dadagiri Unlimited, for an interview with one of Indian cricket’s most successful former captains and CAB chiefs — Sourav Ganguly. The room he uses to rest in between shots was brimming with people. Despite that, his assistant comes back to us with the exact time for the interview, all thanks to Sourav’s sharp memory! Much later in the night, after wrapping up the shoot, he meets us with, “Sorry for the delay, but that’s how my life is!” and we quickly settle down for a chat with queries aplenty. Even while Sourav speaks about his new post, the state of Indian cricket, MS Dhoni’s retirement rumours, Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri, congratulatory calls and messages keep pouring in and he happily responds to each of them. Excerpts from the interview:
Will you place the moment of being announced as the BCCI president ahead of your cricketing glories?
My cricketing days cannot be compared with any other position or feeling. It is probably because of my cricketing glories that I got this opportunity to serve Indian cricket. Both have their own challenges and demand different ways of handling things.
What will be your 10-month plan of action?
Let me take over the position on October 23 first. Then there’s a lot of work to be done. I think 10 months is a lot of time. I will sit with the team — Jay (Shah), Arun (Dhumal) and Jayesh (George) — and take it forward. A lot of clean-up needs to be done and several things need to be understood, especially what has happened in the last three years. It was like an emergency in the last three years and we will have to get everything back in order. We will have to make all the team members stay together and take Indian cricket forward. The first three-four months will probably be spent doing damage control.
When we spoke to your brother, Snehasish, he said you will do a commendable job, even in 10 months. Do you think the time period is enough to bring about a big change and do some good work?
I am not thinking about the time period because that’s what I have. So, I must do whatever I can in that time. There’s no point thinking about ifs and buts. We will do our best in 10 months.
How big a role will Jagmohan Dalmiya’s inspiration play in your new role?
He is a legend and an inspiration, but I have actually not seen him being an administrator from close quarters because I was playing back then. I used to deal with him only on cricketing matters. I will do my work the way I know it. The effort will be a non-compromising one and we will see how it goes.
Will cricketers from Bengal get a better representation now that you will head BCCI?
Being the BCCI president, I am looking after the country and not only Bengal. It’s similar to the time I was made the captain of India. So, the best will be given the best opportunities.
When you were building the Men in Blue as their captain, there would be reports of how you would convince selectors to give them multiple chances to perform. Now that you are on the other side of the table, will you give that scope to Virat Kohli too?
I will not interfere much. But I think if you are giving responsibilities to the selectors and the captain, you got to let them do it their way. So, we will see how it goes.
What are the takeaways of being the CAB chief that you think will hold you in good stead as the BCCI president?
The administrative capabilities, organising abilities, getting things done, rules and regulations will come in handy for all of us — the entire team. It’s also an administrative set-up and that’s how you learn to take charge of situations.
MS Dhoni’s self-imposed break after the ICC WC 2019 has officially ended on September 21. As a selector, are you in favour of Dhoni continuing with the shorter forms/limited overs game? Do you think he still has more to offer to the game?
I have not been a part of the system for a long time. So, I really don’t know what has transpired. Let me and my team join on October 23 and then we will find out what it is, why he hasn’t played and what his future is from the selectors’ point of view. The selectors from the previous board were dealing with this. So, I probably don’t have an answer to this question at the moment.
You must have received so many congratulatory calls and messages from family, friends, colleagues and fans. Did Ravi Shastri call too?
(Smiles) Please don’t ask me these questions. I am not here for any personal agenda. I am here to serve Indian cricket. My formula is simple — whoever is the best will be given an opportunity. That’s all.
What needs to be done to prepare this extremely talented side of Indian cricket ready for the World Cup? Should there be a rejig in the team or coach/guidance?
No. They are a good side and have been playing well. Probably, the best side in the world at the moment. They have been pretty consistent. They may not have been able to win a major title for a while, but they have reached semi-finals and finals and played well in those tournaments. So, I really don’t see too much of a problem. Hopefully, Virat (Kohli) and the rest, once they get to the finals again, will take a relook at the team’s performance. We selectors, sitting in the boardroom, can’t do much.
Your wife, Dona, said you always have surprises in store for people. Is politics next on the cards?
(Laughs) Not at the moment.
You are known to be extremely patient. While holding such a power position, does it get difficult to keep your patience?
I am a very patient person. That’s my character and I have always been
How often do you look back on your lows now that you are on a high?
Well that’s life for everyone. Nobody will be on a high forever.
Did you get a call from Shah Rukh Khan or Aamir Khan, who had visited your home in 2009 in the guise of a fan?
Is it easy for you to forgive and forget?
Yes. I am someone who doesn’t hold on to grudges.
If you were a contestant on Dadagiri Unlimited, how well do you think you would fare?
I would try my best to give the right answers.
When you know a contestant is making a mistake, do you like to give hints for correction or prefer to be neutral?
I can’t give them hints.