Dubai: It was with great fanfare that Sourav Ganguly, the ‘dada’ of Indian cricket, had begun his innings as the President of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) last October. Now at the halfway mark of his 10-month tenure (not taking into account if the Supreme Court finally eases the cooling off period in his case), he is confronted with off-the-field challenges - which are not exactly in his circle of influence.
The possibility of hosting even a truncated Indian Premier League (IPL), which was initially postponed till April 15 with the coronavirus endemic making inroads in India, has not improved over the past two weeks. A conference call between the eight franchises and the BCCI to review the situation on Tuesday was cancelled - making the possibility of the first-ever cancellation of the glitzy league very much a reality now. The league has, over it’s 12-year journey, weathered many a storm but nothing could match up to this scare.
‘‘There is nothing new to add as the situation has not changed from where it was 10 days back,’’ said Ganguly, who has quarantined himself at home for now - with his daughter Sana who studies abroad having joined the family. “Yes, the Covid-19 pandemic has made life challenging for everyone. Every day is a challenge. But again, that’s what life is. The streets of Kolkata are deserted. There is not a soul on the roads. But that is the case everywhere,’’ he said in an interview.
While the pandemic has thrown the international sporting calendar for the year out of gear - including the Tokyo Olympics - cricket has been no exception with all the fixtures cancelled while England Cricket Board (ECB) has suspended all it’s activities till end-May. Even if cricket sees any resumption two months down the line, the choc-a-bloc calendar alongwith the World T20 - scheduled to be held Down Under in October-November - will make it a Herculean task to even create a smaller window for the IPL.
The other big question mark, however, hangs over the continuity of Ganguly as the president beyond August as the Supreme Court is yet to take up the board’s resolution - which included an appeal for relaxation of the cooling off period for both him and the BCCI secretary Jay Shah.
As per the new BCCI constitution based on justice R.M. Lodha committee’s reforms, any person who has been an officebearer in a state as well as BCCI for a consecutive period of six years, will have to go for a compulsory cooling-off period of three years. The rule applies both for Ganguly, who has served his state body Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) first as a joint secretary and later president for five years and Shah, who has been the secretary of Gujarat Cricket Association for five-plus years.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made life challenging for everyone. Every day is a challenge. But again, that’s what life is.
When Ganguly started his innings in the hot seat by hosting the first-ever pink ball Test in the country against Bangladesh last October, the buzz was that it could be matter of time before the apex court rules in favour of the amendments to the Lodha Committee recommendations. There has been no progress on the subject so far but Aditya Verma, a Bihar-based cricket official who was the whistleblower in the IPL scandal in 2013, now plans to file an ‘‘interlocutary appeal’’ to the Supreme Court for relaxation of the cooling off rules for the Ganguly-Shah pair.
Confirming this to Gulf News during a telephonic chat, Verma said: ‘‘It will be very unfortunate for Indian cricket if Ganguly does not get a chance to serve full term as it will be impossible to get someone of his stature for the job. Out of the 10 months available to him, at least two months will now be gone because of the virus attack and it will soon be time for him and Shah to go. The courts are also in lockdown now but I plan to file the appeal before it closes for the summer vacation.’’
There are a series of other plans that Ganguly had in mind apart from making pink balls Tests a reality - right from improving the lot for first class cricketers to looking for accountability from the Indian cricket team to end their string of semi-final exits in last three ICC tournaments.
All that will have to wait - at least for now...