Ganguly to helm BCCI under a cloud of political undertones

Source :SIFY
Author :SIFY
Last Updated: Wed, Oct 16th, 2019, 21:22:14hrs
Ganguly to helm BCCI under a cloud of political undertones
The richest and most powerful cricketing body in the world, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will soon be under new leadership. The new President, Sourav Ganguly, Jay Shah will serve as Secretary, Mahim Verma of the Cricket Association of Uttarakhand will serve as Vice-President and Jayesh George of the Kerala Cricket Association will be the Joint Secretary.

Currently, all those mentioned above have filed their nominations and the BCCI will consider the names, though there aren’t expected to be any changes given they are running unopposed. The posts are likely to be confirmed at the BCCI’s AGM on October 23. Given Ganguly’s role as current President of the Cricket Association of Bengal, he can serve as the head of the BCCI only for 10 months.

Politicking and manoeuvring

As with any decision of leadership in the BCCI, politics and backroom manoeuvring were present. As the BCCI has gone through a fairly tumultuous period over the past few years with scandals, the mix of politics in the leadership structure can yield a sense of no change in the status quo. Jay Shah, the son of BJP Chief Amit Shah being in the mix is interesting and Ganguly’s own political ambitions might play a factor considering it’s a 10-month tenure and him returning to Bengal for a possible run with the BJP. The Livemint editorial speaks to this possibility – 

West Bengal’s assembly polls are scheduled for 2021. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress has been under pressure, with an aggressive BJP gaining support across the state. For both Banerjee and the BJP, Ganguly would be a prize catch. The BJP had reportedly approached the former captain to contest an election in 2016. Perhaps that offer still stands”.

There are some conflicts of interest issues that will be ironed out; considering Ganguly is a mentor to the Delhi Capitals and will have to give up his role as commentator for matches. While a petitioner raised these concerns, the Ethics Office of the BCCI, Retired Justice D.K. Jain waived them off and gave Ganguly the benefit of doubt.

The election of Ganguly as its leader is in keeping with the Lodha Committee recommendation of cricketers in leadership roles of the administrative body. The political manoeuvring involved him having to choose between Vice President or head of the IPL governing council; both of which he declined according to reports. N Srinivasan, the former head of the board and an ever-present member of cricket politicking was present alongside Ganguly filing his nomination.

The BCCI has always had an old guard – Rajiv Shukla, former head of the IPL, Niranjan Shah and Srinivasan. These three were once the most powerful people in Indian cricket. However, as the BCCI and the IPL were marred in scandal, their respective reigns came to an end. The Lalit Modi-Srinivasan saga and the match fixing scandal overshadowed and was a dark period for Indian cricket. Ayush Puthran, in a column for Cricbuzz, writes on Ganguly’s position now –

In whatever manner the political dynamics have worked, for Ganguly, the turn of events has put him in a position of power. He earns trust well, understands the requirements of the game. He has often been a man of his own mind, and has changed allegiance for convenience in the past - within cricket and even politically”.

Challenges ahead for the new team

Ganguly comes in at a time when the cricket team on the field is performing well; even though the team hasn’t won a world tournament since 2013. The problem seems to be administrative. Ganguly became the captain after the Hanse Cronje match fixing scandal that and led a very successful tenure as leader. He is credited with streamlining the cricket team at the time in terms of fitness and coaching with John Wright.

Now, one of the main challenges that the new BCCI administrators will face is the quality of first-class cricketers and another is its relationship with the ICC. Over the past few years, the standing of the BCCI in the world has reduced. The Indian cricket market generates more revenue as more Indian companies are invested in cricket than ever before. The Indian Express editorial outlines the BCCI’s standing –

Over the past few years, India has significantly lost clout at the ICC. A cricket board that contributes over 70 per cent of the global body’s revenue, its money has been taken away on the pretext of creating a more equitable revenue distribution system”.

There could be a tussle between Ganguly and a former foe, the current head of the ICC Shashank Manohar. Manohar in past had been in Ganguly’s shoes as the head of the BCCI, but left to join the ICC. Ganguly has made it clear that he feels the BCCI hasn’t been treated fairly in terms of renumeration. He said in part, “We haven’t received any money from ICC in the last few years. Money in the sense what we deserve.”

Overall, as the BCCI enters into a new phase, could this be a case of status quo or will be there be genuine change. The Lodha committee was put in place in an effort to clean up the administrative body and the Supreme Court had to get involved. Many of the recommendations put forward were towards state cricket associations as well as the central body. Politicisation of cricket isn’t new in India, and the among the latest office bearers waiting to take control, a couple of them are sons of union ministers. As the Free Press Journal editorial states, this could be a case of old wine in a new bottle –

Despite the central objective of the Lahoti Committee being to professionalize the management of cricket, the effort has yielded a poor outcome. The same old vested interests rule the roast in various state bodies, if not directly through close relatives”.

It’s clear, Ganguly and his team have challenges to face at home and abroad with the ICC. The men in blue do a good job of not getting caught up in the day-to-day of the BCCI’s functioning. Domestic cricket will need to be a focus if the cricket team, which should be central to the BCCI’s efforts, is to grow and improve and pave the way for future stars.

More columns by Varun Sukumar