Last week, the curtain came down on the tenure of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), which ran the world’s most powerful cricket administrative body – BCCI – for over two years.
The board will now be helmed by one of India’s biggest cricketing greats, Sourav Chandidas Ganguly, widely revered for steering Indian cricket to new heights of glory, pulling it back from the abyss of a fixing scandal in the late 90s.
On Wednesday, Ganguly took charge of his new role donning a navy blue blazer with a BCCI logo, one that he earned nearly 20 years back as the captain of Team India.
Was India’s most influential captain sending out a message? The next nine months promise to be an exhilarating ride for the followers of Indian cricket and many are banking on Dada, as Ganguly is popularly called, to set the house of BCCI in order.
Former BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah, who believes that India has lost its influence in the ICC and domestic cricket is down in the dumps, is one of them.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Shah analyses the tenure of CoA and talks about his faith in the newly appointed Ganguly-led dispensation.
Q. How do you see Sourav Ganguly in his new role as BCCI president?
A. Yes, we have complete faith in him. He was a great cricketer. He had good leadership quality in sports. Sourav has already worked as President in the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) which is a very important experience to have to get into the BCCI. I don’t think we have any problem. He will surely have a successful tenure, whatever time he has got.
Q. How would you describe the 33-month long tenure of CoA, led by Vinod Rai?
A. I don’t know what to say…what he has achieved in the tenure…but cricket has gone to lower level. BCCI is run by their sub-committee. By taking away the sub-committee, the whole decision on cricketing matters was taken by one or two individuals. Associations were not given a single pie. Still, because of their involvement and love for cricket, they carried on all cricketing activities and successfully ran domestic cricket, which is the most important aspect of the game. He has forgotten that real cricket is handled by the association. They work right from the smallest place to Ranji trophy level. We are spreading the game at lower level. We produce cricketers. He has forgotten that.
Q. Sourav too stressed on improving conditions at first class level…
A.That’s what is important. We produce cricketers who go on to play international cricket. We have small tournaments like inter-district and club tournaments. These are the basics of cricket which he (Rai) forgot and did not understand.
Q. Do you agree that BCCI’s position has degraded in the ICC? Will that be a priority for the new team?
A. We have lost everything in ICC. CoA has not done anything after what we had left. They have not done anything with regards to our position in ICC. They have not paid our dues. We have not taken any strong action in ICC. From being the most powerful member in ICC, we have come down to zero.
Q. Back in Saurashtra, your son Jaydev Shah is the new President now. What can we expect from him?
A. For fifteen years, Jaydev was the captain of Saurashtra. He knows in and out of Saurashtra cricket. He will need some administrative experience like Sourav Ganguly. I think, under his leadership, Saurashtra will do well.
Q. What do you feel about the ongoing tussle between BCCI and Shashank Manohar?
A. What he has done to the BCCI and India’s position…I have nothing to say more. Everybody knows that he is anti-BCCI .
Q. Your views on Virat Kohli suggesting five venues for Test cricket…
A. See, India is a huge country. You can’t popularise the game with five Test venues. You have to go for smaller places as well. I think cricket has to be spread across the country. If the infrastructure is there, why not play Test cricket on those venues? Just because people are not coming to the ground doesn’t necessarily mean that they are uninterested in Test cricket. There is a huge TV viewership. They are not turning to the ground, maybe, because of financial reasons or they may not have much time. I think they follow cricket on television. Cricket has to be spread and it must be played wherever the infrastructure is present.