Sourav Ganguly has priorities chalked out as BCCI’s new president

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MUMBAI: Years after hanging his Team India blazer in the closet, Sourav Ganguly – the legendary India captain and now new president of the BCCI – took it out for his coronation at the board headquarters on Thursday.

The BCCI emblem on the chest was never so emphatically visible as it was this afternoon when he walked in to address the media after finishing with the day’s formalities.

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“I got it when I was the captain. So, I decided I would wear it today,” he said, setting the tone and order for what would follow. After all, here was a man who knew it long before many others did, how to remain in ‘control’.

Around 20 years ago, when Indian cricket had suffered its first big turmoil in the aftermath of the match-fixing saga, it was Ganguly who was handed over the reins of the Indian team and what followed next were a memorable five years under his captaincy. Twenty years later, he’s been handed over the reins again, albeit in a different role.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, when I took over as captain, it was a similar sort of situation. The same thing needs to happen now. A lot of work is waiting to be done,” he said.

The accounts for the last three years were not passed on Thursday, despite the matter being listed on the two-point agenda that had been floated by the Committee of Administrators. TOI understands that it was Ganguly who pointed out in the meeting that Thursday’s affair was a ‘general body meeting and not an AGM’.

“I’m very fortunate to be in a situation where I can make a change. It’s a challenge. I’ll do it the way I know. I’ll do it the way I feel is the best for BCCI,” Ganguly said. “There will be no compromise on credibility. The focus will be on a corruption-free environment and BCCI will be the same for all. That’s the way I led India and that’s the way I will take forward the organisation in the time I have”.

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Offering Virat Kohli all the help he needs as captain of the Indian team, leading India’s fight for revenues at the International Cricket Council, restructuring of domestic cricket, ensuring that the cricketer and cricket remain in focus at all times, bringing back the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) and revisiting the wrongs in recent past and correcting them will be Ganguly’s top-most priorities.

“The way I see it, the captain of the Indian team is the most important individual in the entire context. We are there to listen to him and support him at all times, in whatever he and Ravi need. The team has done excellently over the last three or four years. It’s been a great unit. They will have our complete support,” Ganguly said.

The former skipper is concerned about the state of domestic cricket in the country. “That’s where our Dhonis, Kohlis, Rohits and Rahanes come from. We need to make the domestic circuit better. That’s the first thing we’ll do. We’ll get it done before the Ranji starts this year,” he added.

Ganguly will be meeting Kohli and Shastri on Thursday in Mumbai. Then a short break for Diwali after which the BCCI’s new, young team of office-bearers will resume duties.

DAY ONE & THE ROAD AHEAD

SRINI MEETS RAI

N Srinivasan and Vinod Rai, protagonists of this three-year-old battle, met at the BCCI headquarters on Wednesday. Rai waved his hand out to Srinivasan and said, “Hello, I am Vinod Rai.” Srinivasan looked at him and said, “You did your best to destroy us but we survived.”

GENERAL BODY MEETING OR AGM?

Ganguly set the tone for the day’s proceedings with a simple question: “Is this a general body meeting or AGM”. Members reminded him it was a general body meeting, given the notice sent out by the COA. That was enough for the president to say: “Accounts will be passed at the AGM”.

COA CAUGHT OFF GUARD?

Hoping that accounts would be passed on Wednesday, the CoA, led by Vinod Rai, was present at the BCCI office in the morning. However, Ganguly’s assertion that it was a general body meeting and not AGM caught the CoA off-guard when they were shown a copy of their own constitution.

AGM AROUND NOV FIRST WEEK

Ganguly’s office will send out a 10-day notice for the AGM “in a day or two”. Other than the passing of accounts, the notice will seek to address multiple issues.

DOMESTIC CRICKET REVAMP

Bengal’s Ashish Bhowmick, the man responsible for the pitches in the three Tests against South Africa, will head the panel of curators. And that is only the beginning of a series of changes that the cricket circuit will witness soon. Reserve days for domestic knockouts, elaborately planned captain conclaves, restructured tournaments – a lot will be in order.

ICC ON MIND

Sourav Ganguly said, “The ICC matter is very important because India’s money, to the tune of US$372m, is pending. A lot of it is the backend money and we’ll make sure we get our due,” he explained.

CONFLICT, CRICKET, CAC

Ganguly confirmed that a new CAC will be formed soon. But that will happen only once the controversial Clause 38 in BCCI’s constitution is revised. The president said the present context in which conflict is defined will have to go. “It has to be changed,” he said.

MEETING VIRAT & RAVI

Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri will meet Ganguly in Mumbai on Thursday. Ganguly said “Kohli is the most important individual in Indian cricket” by virtue of being the Team India skipper and he will be given a keen hearing on all matters.

DHONI’S FUTURE?
Ganguly said he’ll meet MS Dhoni and try to get an idea. “He is one of the greats and what he’s achieved for the country is incomparable. I look forward to meeting him.”
BANGLADESH TOUR
Ganguly said: “I spoke with the Bangladesh PM, Sheikh Hasina, and invited her for the Test at Eden Gardens. She has accepted the invitation. So, if the PM is coming and the national team doesn’t come, that would look a bit odd. No?”

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