When Sourav Ganguly walked inside the BCCI headquarters to file his nomination, accompanied by septuagenarians, ex BCCI strongmen N Srinivasan and Niranjan Shah, it was a moment that symbolized the change of guard in the game’s richest board.
It was also a show of strength that BCCI wanted to showcase after being caught up in three years of legal tussles under the Committee of Administrators (COA) reign. “The members had no say. I have never seen anything like this,” Sourav Ganguly told India Today in an interview after filing his nomination papers.
The former India skipper likened the present BCCI scenario to an ’emergency-like situation’. Excerpts from the interview…
Q. Sourav Ganguly, the new India captain in 2000 and now the new BCCI President in 2019. How different are the emotions personally?
A. That was playing the game and it was very close to my heart and something that I dreamt of. Being a captain was an unbelievable experience during that generation.
This will be very different. There have been tough times for the BCCI for the last three years. This is a similar sort of situation to take things forward. We are eight of us (Apex Council) and we can take the organization forward.
Q. You have even compared the present-day BCCI situation to an emergency. Why do you say that?
A. Because the organization belongs to the members and they had no say in the last three years. There were reforms. There were court cases, tussles going on and to be honest there was no connection. Nobody knew when things would get solved and how things would go forward. From that point of view, I have never seen anything like this. We will get the system back in order.
Q. You have had to forgo all other cricket responsibilities to take up the BCCI post. But other cricketers may find it tricky to do with other positions, under the conflict of interest guidelines…
A. Conflict of interest definitely needs to be looked at if you want good players, players who have played for a long period of time with experience. If they come to administration and do not get an opportunity to do anything else, I don’t think you will get many. That has to be sorted by the courts, by the BCCI top brass and a more realistic situation needs to be created. I am not saying completely take away conflict of interest. Deal with it the right way. Do not take anything and everything as a conflict. That’s the problem and hopefully, it will get sorted.
Q. Top cricketers not coming forward as selectors is a case in point…
A. This is one area. Also, first-class cricket needs to be looked at very sincerely. I am a big supporter of how first-class cricketers need to be looked after and that will be at top of my agenda.
Q. BCCI’s health at ICC is no longer what it used to be…
A. We will have to get BCCI at the ICC back where we belong. There have been a lot of issues for good four-five years. BCCI is so important to the ICC. It not only generates the funds; which is one part but the popularity of the game matters. India is unbelievable and has a huge role to play in ICC and we need to be respected which at the moment is not happening.
Q. On the field, are you happy with the way things have gone?
A. India has played well and come back strong after the World Cup which must have been disappointing. They have come back and done well against West Indies and South Africa. They have been superb and there is a lot of difference between India and other sides at the moment except for England and Australia.
Q. There is story doing that rounds that Sourav Ganguly is harbouring political ambitions and this is one step towards that…
A. Nobody has even made a request to me. Nobody has even asked me to do it. It’s just BCCI Presidentship at the moment.
Q. You are taking BCCI Presidentship up for nine months. But the cooling-off clause could ultimately go away..
A. We will see how life goes. We will see where it goes and how it is. Let’s not jump the gun yet.