India’s former captain and one of the best readers of the game, Sourav Ganguly was appointed as the president of the BCCI. This will be the first time in the history of the game in the country that a former cricketer will be a full time president of the Board. There have been interim presidents who have been cricketers, but it is not the same thing. Sourav has a lot of backing and his clout as a shrewd “go getter” will help him fix the image of the BCCI.
Sourav has always carried his heart on his sleeve and the same salient quality will help him refurbish the faltering image of the BCCI. Riddled with corruption and factionalism, the Board had become a cesspool of infighting and indecision. So much so that the Supreme Court had to formulate ways to run the affairs of the Board in a country that is obsessed with cricket. There is too much to fix there and Sourav’s task is cut out. But will it be easy to bring together a BCCI that is replete with egos larger than the planet Neptune? It will be a challenge.
But before anything else can be changed in the BCCI there is a pressing need to fix domestic cricket in the country. Ganguly was right in saying that it was time to stop picking players on the basis of their IPL performances and treat issues troubling domestic cricket first. From sub-standard payments to snubs in the national team, domestic cricketers have to fight tooth and nail to make an impact. And even when they do, their stay in the Indian team is short lived. We all remember Amol Majumdar and his contribution to Mumbai cricket and how despite being one of the most prolific run getters in the Ranji games, he was never picked by the Indian selectors, whereas players such as Amit Mishra, on the basis of just one five-wicket haul, was able to sustain his place in the Indian team for years. Sourav will have to fix this anomaly as it is not only an irritant for those who wish to do well in domestic cricket but also for those who want to see test cricket become a success once again.
Sourav’s aggression and his forthright style will specifically send feelers to captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri. The coach and the president have been at loggerheads in the past and Dada has sent a clear message to Shastri by doing the obvious—not mentioning him at all in any of his media briefings and interviews. This is also indicative of his plan not to allow a free run to Kohli and Shastri in the team. After all, it was Ganguly who wanted Kumble to remain the coach of the team, but fate had other plans.
All in all, Ganguly’s short stint of 10 months will check a lot of boxes that have been unaddressed in the past few years. Our poor run at ICC events is also one such thing that has irked the new president and his endeavour would be to make sure that the coach and the captain align with his vision.
The writing on the wall is definitive and vivid: perform or perish.
Vineet Malhotra is a Consulting Editor and Prime Time Anchor with NewsX.