By Debayan Mukherjee
Kolkata, Oct 29 (IANS) For Sourav Ganguly, it was an opportunity to wear his India blazer once again as he officially took over as the President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in Mumbai last week. For virtually everybody else inside and outside the game, it was February 26, 2000 all over again.
Ganguly took over as the captain of the Indian cricket team at a time the sport in the country was mired in the infamous fixing crisis which consumed Mohammad Azharuddin and a few others.
He was given a young team and was handed the responsibility to get the house in order after Sachin Tendulkar stood down from captaining the side post a 2-0 drubbing in the Tests against South Africa.
What happened from then on and in the next five years is well documented as Ganguly, nicknamed “Maharaj (king)” at home, moulded a bunch of talented youngsters into world beaters and took them to the 2003 World Cup final and also made India the No.1 Test side, playing a fearless brand of cricket which was previously unheard of.
Cut to 2019, and he is taking over as the chief of a board which went through a tumultuous 33-month reign of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA).
The onus of resurrecting the ship is once again on him after the image of Indian cricket took a beating following the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal.
“One thing I’m absolutely sure is that whatever time I’m here I will try and make a difference. I’m not going to sit and spend my time for people to say that “I was the BCCI president”. I want to be a ‘BCCI President who made a difference’, so I’ll try and do that,” Ganguly said at the felicitation programme organised by the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) of which he was the president for four years from 2015-2019.
He had been part of the Working Committee for three years before taking over as Joint Secretary in 2014.
Ganguly, on whom leadership sits softly, knows the weight of expectations on him from every nook and corner.
And as he has himself said time and again after assuming the role and even before he formally took over, that he is happy to be the Man Friday of Indian cricket be in on or off the field.
Standing next to him at the felicitation programme, Azhar — Ganguly’s first captain — said he wants Ganguly to reach greater heights as BCCI President than what he had achieved as the skipper of the Indian team. Tendulkar, more or less, echoed similar sentiments going by his short tweet when Ganguly was President-elect.
Ditto Virender Sehwag, who, after the famous Cape Town Test in 2006 where Ganguly, on a comeback trail, had cracked a defiant unbeaten 51, had said: “Dada will one day become the BCCI president and also the Chief Minister of Bengal.”
V.V.S Laxman, whose 281, Ganguly says saved his captaincy and Indian cricket, urged him to “revive” the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru which, for the past few years, has become a rehabilitation centre and not a feeder line of Indian cricket.
India head coach Ravi Shastri feels the sport is in the right direction with Ganguly at the wheel, and there won’t be many who would say otherwise as the ‘Prince of Kolkata’ begins his reign. Ganguly is already making the right kind of noises with the Day-Night Tests as a starter, but challenges are many ahead of him and his every move would be scrutinised like during his playing days.
For now, he has nine months to do an encore, this time in the boardroom by at least setting the wheels in motion before he has to go into the mandatory cooling-off period. All eyes, that of his long time team-mates, the wider cricketing world and beyond, will be on him. Like it always was.