For those who have a clue or two about the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), it’s not really a secret that the richest cricket board in the world does not have a president or a secretary at this moment ‘on paper.’ Yes, you have heard me right as the tenure of Sourav Ganguly, the former Indian captain and ‘Dada’ to his fans, has ended officially on July 27 while secretary Jay Shah’s cooling off period had begun much earlier in May.
When Ganguly and Shah were elected in their respective positions in October last year, it was common knowledge that they would have to go on a mandatory ‘cooling off’ period around this time as per the recommendation of Justice R.M. Lodha Commission. The cooling off, incidentally, was a major plank of the slew of reforms approved by the apex court - whereby any administrator completing six years (can be a cumulative one at the state level and national body) has to cool his heels on the sidelines.
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Frequently asked by the media if a ridiculously short 10-month window would be enough for him to execute his vision, Ganguly had been quite cool about it – saying that this is all he has at his disposal and rules are well, rules. However, the BCCI got into action in right earnest from December to ensure that the top duo can complete their tenure with a plea to ‘relax’ the cooling off period – along with a number of other proposed amendments.
They followed this up with another appeal in April – by which time the India lockdown was in place to combat the coronavirus pandemic and the courts were also closed. It was finally on July 22 that the Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao, announced that they will take up the appeal in another two weeks – though a date is yet to be finalised.
This certainly allowed a breathing space for both Ganguly and Shah – who had been maintaining a low profile in the day-to-day operations of the board in recent weeks. All the major announcements on the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) shifting to the UAE, the tentative window for the league, had been pitched around Birjesh Patel – the former Indian star and the IPL chairman.
This is surely not the style of leadership that Ganguly enjoys, who had been always his own man and most vocal on different issues till the other day – from day-night Test matches to wanting his men to win abroad. While informed sources feel that it’s matter of time before the Supreme Court finally plays ball – but there is a school of thought that the top court may be loathe to change it’s stance on the reforms which it had ratified only a few years back.
It’s a bit of an unfamiliar situation for the ‘Prince of Kolkata,’ who also has the option of throwing his hat in the ring for the ICC top job. An array of former stars like Kumar Sangakkara, Graeme Smith and David Gower have gone on record saying that Ganguly has all the makings for the next ICC chairman’s role while a number of stakeholders feel it would be much easier to achieve consensus if Ganguly agrees to take the plunge.
However, Ganguly – on his part – clearly feels that the BCCI needs him more at this point. There were several action points he had laid out – including introducing a contract system for the domestic players and laying out a healthy blueprint for first class cricket.
All that will be left undone – not to speak of the fact that the board may be left rudderless - if the judgement does not go in the duo’s favour!