It is not a secret anymore in international cricket how powerful the BCCI (Board of Cricket Control in India) is owing to its astronomical revenue generation and the systemic setup over decades. With great powers, come greater responsibilities! With the enormous clout BCCI had generated globally, it has had its fair share of controversies in the past. Adding to that list is the latest ouster of the former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly as the Board President.
Former elegant left-handed batsman Sourav reached the zenith of the Indian Cricket administration in October 2019. His appointment at that time created a lot of noise and now that, Roger Binny, another former Indian player from the South-Indian state of Karnataka has replaced him in the post, BCCI and the worm of conspiracy theories around it is very much in the news.
A Timeline Of Events
Sourav Ganguly was appointed as the Indian Cricket Board President in October 2019 after a two-year impasse over the recommendations made by the Lodha Panel, a committee appointed by the Supreme Court of India to overlook the scope of improvements in the functioning of BCCI. With so many nicknames, e.g ‘Dada’, ‘Prince Of Kolkata’, ‘God Of Offside’, Sourav Ganguly is a household name not just in India but any cricket-loving nation. Be it his iconic celebration from the Lord’s balcony or his fallout with the former Indian coach Greg Chappell, Sourav has been a poster boy of Indian Cricket through the 2000s.
He was already heading the Cricket Association of Bengal since 2015 and he came in with a lot of promise as an administrator. But very soon, the deadly coronavirus took the world by surprise, and most of Sourav’s tenure as the BCCI President was jarred by the virus and its implications. Last month, the BCCI went to the Supreme Court Of India for the approval of an amendment in the BCCI Constitution that would pave the way for the BCCI office-bearers to hold their offices for consecutive terms. The Supreme Court ruled in the favor of BCCI and it was then speculated that Sourav Ganguly and Jay Shah, BCCI President and BCCI Secretary respectively will continue their terms.
The issue was far from settling down and after a series of speculations ranging from Jay Shah becoming the new BCCI head to Sourav Ganguly going for the ICC Chairman post, the picture got clear only last week when the new BCCI team comprising of former Indian fast bowler Roger Binny as the President and Mr. Jay Shah continuing as the Secretary, was revealed.
Conjunction of Indian Politics and BCCI
BCCI has always been dominated by national politicians, be it the former BCCI and ICC President Sharad Pawar who is a heavyweight politician coming from the state of Maharashtra, or Rajiv Shukla, a senior leader of the Indian National Congress who has been the IPL chairman for many years. If we closely look at the current structure of the BCCI apex committee, everyone apart from Roger Binny has a close political affiliation.
Jay Shah who is often seen in the stadiums is the son of the present Home Minister of India and a senior leader of the ruling party BJP – Amit Shah. Two new entrants to the council are Ashish Shelar as the treasurer, another senior BJP leader from the Indian state of Maharashtra, and Arun Kumar Dhumal as the new IPL Chairman, who is the brother of a senior BJP leader and currently, the Cabinet Minister of Sports, Youth Affairs and Information & Broadcasting – Anurag Thakur ( who himself was a BCCI President in the past). The Council has representation even from the Indian National Congress, which is the primary Opposition party in Indian politics, in the face of Rajiv Shukla as the BCCI Vice-President. Not just the central body, many state cricket associations in India are currently led by senior politicians.
It is widely speculated that Sourav Ganguly was installed as the BCCI President by the current ruling party so that he could become a face for them in the state of West Bengal, where he hails from. Rumors have it that after Ganguly refused to do the job for them, he was dismissed as the BCCI chief. Another set of speculations is around the role of N. Srinivasan, once a BCCI President himself, who leads the South Indian lobby within the BCCI and therefore, pushed for the name of Roger Binny (who comes from the Southern state of Karnataka). Srinivasan has been a very powerful name in the Indian cricket administration and has very recently publicly criticized the outgoing BCCI President Sourav Ganguly for his tenure.
An Opportunity missed for ‘Dada’?
Ganguly is seen as the epitome of a leader in the Indian cricketing circles for his captaincy. His fans expected the same from him in the role of an administrator but there are not many high points from his three-year-long tenure as the BCCI head. Ganguly remained in controversy for the conflicts of interest in his role as the mentor of an IPL franchise Delhi Capitals and as the brand ambassador of a fantasy cricket platform. To be fair to him, he should be applauded for conducting the IPL and T-20 World Cup during the challenging face of the Covid-19 outbreak. But a lot of that success is accredited to Jay Shah who has more or less been the public face of BCCI off late. The former Indian captain also came into the limelight earlier this year for his differences with the star Indian batsman Virat Kohli when the latter was removed as the ODI captain of team India.
Not getting a lot of support from his peers, Ganguly is said to return to his home state West Bengal as the head of the Cricket Association of Bengal.
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