‘Sourav Ganguly has come as a messiah to overturn this phase with uncertainty. Welcome to the age of Dadagiri’ - a former Indian international, who found himself out of favour in the current management, had sent me this message when Ganguly assumed the BCCI chair. The hope was real.
To understand the Ganguly aura in Indian cricket, you don’t have to look at the wins, measure the tangible and intangible success that he achieved as a player and captain. Rather, you just need to circle around Kolkata once in an Auto-Rickshaw. Dhoni might be huge in Ranchi and every single road might have traversed through his seven-acre farmhouse in Kailashpati but Ganguly is the King of Behala. Maharaja without any scion, the King who has the autonomy in every single soul’s heart. The massive impact he has had on Bengal has never been bypassed by any cultural icons coming from the city and his unfathomable power, to date, has been the single biggest case study of hero-worship in that part of the world.
However, with every bouquet you receive, you tend to ignore a thousand red-flags. It is plain sad that Sourav Ganguly, the man responsible for sweeping regionalism out of Indian cricket, fails to understand the simple hierarchy as his role closes on for its first anniversary. What Shreyas Iyer said on Delhi Capitals’ opening encounter against Kings XI Punjab in Dubai might have been taken out of context and Iyer, as he clarified, might have been talking about the past and expressing his gratitude, but it invoked some uncomfortable questions on many other chapters for which Ganguly possibly has no correct answer right now.
Last season, Ganguly, while heading CAB, donned the hat of mentor to ‘groom’ youngsters in Delhi Capitals. He easily traded the jersey with a suit and blazer to become a dapper-looking commentator in the subsequent World Cup. Everything was forgotten but once the BCCI presidency came to him, he said he was leaving his other roles to get himself out of the conflict riddle. It was a discourse Ganguly was taking but then I still find no answer on if his role with BCCI warrants him to leave all those past positions, then how was not the same argument a fair proposition for his role with CAB and DC. It beggared belief but now that’s past. So no point talking of it anymore.
However, one that has befuddled me is how come Sourav Ganguly, posing with Dream11 Trophy every single day on the IPL Balcony, still endorses a direct competitor during ad breaks. As Ganguly himself had given the clean-chit, with the Ethics Officer-cum-Ombudsman sitting idle on the issue, there is a factor that leaves me shell-shocked. So basically Ganguly is fine doing advertisements and asking people to follow and put their money - as writing gamble can put me in legal trouble - but he is not ready to allow the non-contracted cricketers to earn a few dollars and cents by plying their trade in those tournaments. Ganguly has done nothing to correct that but rather put up a stringent licensing policy to deprive a 48-year-old of playing cricket, quite literally. How can that be justified?
At the time of taking over the BCCI leadership in the unanimous proposition - that saw Anurag Thakur and N Srinivasan under the single tent - Ganguly announced that he would strive for the administration to be the best in the world along with “getting the house in order, the office in order and most importantly cricket.” It was a message loud and clear and as the said international cricketer expected, it was a hopeful scenario. But almost a year on, CEO Rahul Johri left, as have National Cricket Academy's Chief Operations Officer Toofan Ghosh and finance head Santosh Rangnekar. BCCI Head of Cricket Operations Saba Karim suddenly resigned when Indian cricket needed representation for clarity on domestic and women’s cricket but Ganguly was seeing it all from a distance.
Even though we are not sure if the above resignations were actually preempted and forced on the employees, the pattern tells us one simple story that it was not a white piece of the puzzle. As a matter of fact, after all these months, we have IPL Chief Operating Officer Hemang Amin being promoted as BCCI CEO on an interim basis and who cares about remaining positions? Even a badly-managed Pakistan Cricket Board and Cricket Australia have done better. The action regarding women’s cricket is so unclear that Mithali Raj revealed that the players were battling with bouts of anxiety over their future. There is no selection panel yet, no one knows what is happening with Women’s T20 Challenge, no clarity on their proposed international schedule on bio-secure environments, no decision on the contract structure which foots their bills for the entire year. No doubt, it is a challenging situation - one that requires thinking on the feet - but one would expect the man who ferociously defied Shoaib Akhtar, Shane Warne and Brett Lee at their prime to do better.
As the Indian Premier League has finally gone ahead in the UAE, the plans and efforts need to be applauded but so much has been left unsaid. What Iyer said is not the problem nor was he required to come up with an honest clarification but the Ganguly-sized problem in Indian Cricket is growing bigger. Can the southpaw go down on his knees and smash them over deep mid-wicket with that low back-lift pushing him to the pedestal? Sourav Ganguly, Please walk the talk.