Dubai: The election of next chairman of International Cricket Council (ICC) is gradually boiling down to a million dollar question: will Sourav Ganguly, former India captain and president of Indian board, be ready to throw his hat in the ring? The ICC is expected to announce the procedure within this week as Shashank Manohar, the current chairman, will be completing his term on June 30.
It was more than a week ago that Ehsan Mani, a former ICC president and the current chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), admitted categorically that he would not be contesting the elections. This leaves Ganguly with a chance of being nominated without an election but if he decides to keep such plans for a later date - then it may not be a free ride for Colin Graves - the chairman of the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) who had been a frontrunner for the position even two months back.
“It is true that I will not be contesting the election. I have announced it in the media also. I was never interested. The news actually came from India. I was approached by a few to contest and I have said I am not interested.” said Mani, who was an ICC president between 2003 and 2006. It’s at the behest of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan that Mani had agreed to take over the PCB and it’s clear that he wants to remain committed to the agenda.
This brings back to the subject of Ganguly agreeing to leave the hot seat of the presidency of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which he had taken up only last October. While he has kept the cards very close to his chest on the subject, those in core group of the BCCI supremo emphatically say that his first priority is to finish his promised agenda with the Indian board - and the lockdown over last three months due to the coronavirus pandemic has not made his life any any easier - with the fate of IPL 2020 still in a limbo.
It’s felt that Ganguly, now 47 years of age, will have enough time left at his disposal to pursue the ICC position in future after completing his tenure with the BCCI. However, there is a big ‘if’ in his plans to serve the BCCI as per his plans as the Supreme Court is yet to schedule a date to take up the appeal of Indian board - tabled quite sometime back - to relax the ‘cooling off’ period of both Ganguly and BCCI secretary Jay Shah. Ganguly’s cooling off period, as mandated by the Justice R.M.Lodha’s recommendations, gets under way after July 31 while Shah’s period has already started from May.
It will be interesting to see if Ganguly is ready for the ICC job if the apex court eventually does not react favourably to the BCCI appeal. The election to the ICC chair is likely to become a completely different ballgame though if he is not in the fray - wherein Graves may have to face a contest.
The ICC, meanwhile, had another board meeting last Thursday (June 25) to discuss the election process of the chairman and will finalise it by this week. It's learnt that an effort is on within the ICC to include all 104 member nations as part of the election process of the chairman in future, though it's not clear when such a regulation can be in place in time for the selection of Manohar's successor.
During his two terms over four years, Manohar had stonewalled the efforts of consolidation by the ‘Big Three’ (India, England & Australia) at the ICC - at the cost of generating bad blood with the Indian board - which he headed not so long ago. He is expected to play a crucial role again in setting the right backdrop for his successor.
As of now, Imran Khawaja, vice chairman of the ICC and chairman of associate member committee, will officiate once Manohar’s tenure completes on Tuesday and execute the election process.