Sourav Ganguly: First-class cricket is going to be my first priority

Mid Day

Mid Day

Author 2019-10-15 07:12:51

Why is a cricketer not at the helm of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), is an often-asked question. The last few decades have seen either a politician or businessman as the BCCI president.

However, as fresh elections beckon on October 23, the BCCI members were faced with an 'extraordinary' scenario where the choice had to be made between two cricketers for the BCCI top post.

Eventually, Sourav Ganguly pipped Brijesh Patel to take the coveted post after the former India captain emerged as the unanimous choice on Sunday night.

Nomination filed

Yesterday, Ganguly, in the presence of BCCI bigwigs like N Srinivasan, Rajeev Shukla and Niranjan Shah filed his nomination for the BCCI president's post. The nomination papers were handed over to the BCCI's legal team since electoral officer N Gopalaswami was not present.

The Bengal stalwart is set to be elected unopposed on October 23 and will become only the second international cricketer to be elected as BCCI president after Maharajah of Vizianagram (1954 to 1956).

The elections will put an end to the three-year rule of Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA).

Ganguly likened the situation of helming the BCCI to the time when he was handed the India captaincy in 2000 — a crown of thorns which hardly anybody wanted to accept due to the match fixing scandal.

"It is a great responsibility. Even when I became the captain in 2000, there were issues going around [match fixing]. So, it is great to be looked at as someone who can do things in a difficult situation. Hopefully, I can do this," a calm Ganguly said yesterday.

Under Ganguly's captaincy, India began producing results overseas. Something similar is expected from the new BCCI boss.

Ganguly, who has just 10 months as BCCI president before going into cooling off period, has limited time to set the Indian cricket board's "house in order".

Being a cricketer at heart, Ganguly's first priority is to strengthen first-class cricket. "I have been very vocal about first-class cricket. It's our base and our strength. In the past three years, I have written many times [to CoA] that their remuneration has to increase manifold. It is going to be my first priority. I will also look at the cricket structure and see how governance happens at the official and office level and ensure smooth functioning," he said.

Much has changed in the last three years as far as functioning of the BCCI is concerned. The Apex Council will have to work under new rules and stringent guidelines of the BCCI constitution. The BCCI is not a dominant force that it was in the International Cricket Council (ICC). "That's one area that we will look into," said Ganguly when asked about India's representation at the ICC. "We haven't received any money from ICC in the last few years. Money in the sense…what we deserve.

"India generates 70 to 80 per cent of the revenue. So that's going to on the agenda. Talks and discussions need to happen and we have to find a solution to this as this is not leading anywhere," he said.

Conflict issue needs re-look

Ganguly, who has been a victim of conflict of interest, said the stringent rules need to be looked at again. "Conflict of interest is an issue and I am not sure whether we will get the best cricketers [to serve]. It really needs to be looked at. The appointment of CAC, NCA coaches...there has been an issue with everything. I am not saying that conflict of interest rule shouldn't be there, but it needs to be re-looked where we can make use of our best cricketers," he said.

In Dada they trust!

Sourav Ganguly is in the big seat again and he is known to accept responsibility well. mid-day spoke to current and former players on what they expect from the Prince of Kolkata, as England's ex-captain and current commentator Geoff Boycott refers to him as.

Voices

Shishir Hattangadi, Former Mumbai captain

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What one can expect from a cricketer in the chair is that he looks at the interest of cricketers — current, past and future. He looks at their welfare and at the general health of the BCCI. He should make sure the game, which is not looked at so well at the grassroots level, does not miss any talented player who is unseen through the sea of talent. Administration will take its own course; the cutting edge will be creating a structure which will be free from zonal biases and state preferences.

Wasim Jaffer, Ex-India opener and current Vidarbha cricketer

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He has already said that his priority is first-class cricket. He understands that there is a massive difference between the earnings of a first-class cricketer and an India player. Since I am also involved with a lot of first-class cricketers, a lot of hard work goes into first-class cricket. Ranji Trophy is no more the benchmark for selection. He will do a good job without a doubt.

Farokh Engineer, Former India stumper

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It is terrific that a cricketer, an ex-India captain will now head the BCCI. I wish Sourav well. I am more than confident that he will lead even better than he did for India; he is more than capable. Cricket, of course, will be back as the main focus. Cricketing issues will take more priority than ever before in the BCCI.

Sudhir Naik, Ex-India Test batsman and veteran curator

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Being a cricketer of great repute, I am sure he will understand the needs and issues faced by players — current and past. When cricketers approach him with any issue, he will be more sympathetic towards their problems. For example, the medical scheme of Rs 5 lakh once a year, is just not sufficient especially if you live in a metro city. I am sure he will look into this aspect when he takes charge.

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