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It's a new start for the BCCI: Sourav Ganguly


The significance of the day was not lost on new BCCI President Sourav Ganguly. The former India captain took charge as the 39th board president donning the same navy blue blazer he'd been given when he was named the full-time captain of the Indian Test team. Ganguly likened the challenges of his new role to his elevation as India captain in the aftermath of the match-fixing scandal, stating that he had to set things in order once again after 33 months of administration by the Committee of Administrators.
"It's an honour that I've been asked to take this role by the members. It's a new start for the BCCI," Ganguly said on Wednesday (October 23). "Coincidentally - fortunately, or unfortunately - when I became captain, it was a similar sort of a situation and I captained India for six years. And this is a similar sort of situation that now things need to be brought back in place, reforms need to be done, huge amounts of money needs to be paid to state associations. So it's a completely new start. From that point of view, I find myself in a position where I can make a change, and it's a challenge.
He has become the first BCCI president to take over charge after the 33-month tenure of the Committee of Administrators, during which the Lodha recommendations were implemented. Speaking about his role, he said, "I'll do it the way I know, in the way I feel is best for BCCI, with no compromise on credibility and corruption-free. That's the way I led India and that's the way I will take forward this organisation in whatever time I have. It's a pretty young group, Jay [Shah] is the secretary, Arun [Singh Dhumal] is the treasurer, Jayesh is the joint-secretary. It's a pretty young team so we will have to do a lot of hard work.
"We don't know what's happened in the last three years, there was no AGM or working committee meeting, there were no committee meetings so we have no idea how it has happened. So we'll take note of everything and then do what is required for BCCI and Indian cricket. We all must understand that we're here to work for Indian cricket, that's what's the job of the BCCI. The game on the field - international cricket, domestic cricket, IPL cricket, and we will do that to the best of our abilities," he added.
'Will give everything for Kohli's team to be the best'
Ganguly stressed on establishing a strong working relationship with India captain Virat Kohli, calling the latter "the most important man in Indian cricket".
"I'll speak to him tomorrow. He's the captain of India, he is the most important man in Indian cricket. We'll have a word with him and as I said we'll support him in every possible way," Ganguly said. "He wants to make this team the best in the world. It's been a great team to be honest with you, the way we have played cricket in the last three-four years. It's a fantastic side, yes, you can say they haven't won the World Cup but you don't win World Cups every time. We'll support him for whatever he wants and make sure that Indian cricket goes ahead smoothly."
Noting that it doesn't make much of a difference in the relations between players and the President if the administrator is a cricketer or not, he said, "When I was the captain and Jagmohan Dalmiya was the president, I don't remember a day when he said no to anything. Likewise, when [N] Srinivasan was the president and [MS] Dhoni was the captain, you know how the relation was good. Virat is the captain now and his relation with me will be the same. Whatever he will require for the betterment of Indian cricket, he will get. He is a very big player... see his game in the last four to five years, he has taken Indian cricket to a different level. We are with him and we will remain with him. We will give him everything for his team to be the best."
During CoA's tenure, it was also reported that the Indian men's team management was able to flex its muscles beyond its ambit. Responding to whether they will continue with the same power under the new BCCI regime, he said, "I don't know what transpired between CoA, Virat [Kohli] and Ravi [Shastri]. A new body and new office bearers have taken over, it will be a proper discussion and everything will be mutually discussed and taken forward. Be rest assured that we are here to make their life easier and not make their life difficult and everything will be on the basis of performance and performance is the most important thing and that's what will decide the future of Indian cricket. And as I said, Virat Kohli is the most important man in this entire context, we will be there to support him, we will listen to him because I have been a captain myself and understand from that position and we will deal with it. It will be mutual respect. Opinions will be there and we will do whatever is best for the game."
Make Ranji Trophy great again
Top of Ganguly's to-do list in his new role of power is to ensure the pink health of India's premier domestic competition - the Ranji Trophy, whose quality, it is argued, has diluted somewhat after the inclusion of new states and union territories as per the Lodha recommendation. Ganguly said he was willing to overcome the logistical challenges of hosting more than 2000 domestic games in a season to ensure that the supply line to the national team is not compromised.
"That will be the first thing we'll do and we'll get it done before the actual Ranji Trophy season starts," he said. "The structures are there, the tournaments are there. In the last three years, the [no.of] matches have doubled actually. When I played for Bengal and some of my colleagues played for the other states there were about 1000 games to be played at.
"Now there are 2000 games between states and the affiliates. So we have to account for it. We have to make sure the best tournament in the country is competitive, and it remains important to everyone now because that's where you get the Kohlis and MS Dhonis, Ajinkya Rahanes and Rohit Sharmas of Indian cricket. So that structure has to be the best and both structure-wise and financially and that will happen. That will be the first thing that will be done by the apex council. As I said, we are here to accommodate and make sure most importantly the cricketers are at ease to play the game, whether it is first-class cricket, Test cricket, women's cricket or the IPL. The biggest goal we have is to make their life lot more easier with performance."
With Mumbai and Punjab getting eliminated in the recent Vijay Hazare Trophy quarterfinals due to a rain rule which took into account the results of the league phase, Ganguly emphasised on the need to consider a reserve day for knockout games, but added, "I don't want DL method because none of us understood it. These are rules and at the end of the day, when the Vijay Hazare Trophy started, the rules were put down and the rules were sent to all the state associations. A similar thing happened at the World Cup final when New Zealand lost everybody started jumping up and down with the rules, but New Zealand was aware of it. It is just unfortunate that they were on the wrong side of the rules.
"So, we will assess it and try and make it more simpler. The rule was whoever won most number of matches (in the league stage, will go through). Which is also a way of saying that you give value to your performance in the group stages. So, it is not something that is entirely wrong. Yes, the pertinent point is whether a reserve day is to be kept for knockouts as quarterfinal and semifinal are important. It (having a reserve day) is a practical thing, but you remember whatever happened it was on the basis of the rule which was given at the start of the tournament.
"When I was the technical committee chairman, I have been part of those coaches and captains conclaves. There are changes. Too many changes for the game is not good. At times, it gets difficult for people to understand what exactly is going on and what are the rules and regulations. Most important aspect is the quality of the game, whether you play at the international level, which is a challenge at the moment with teams like South Africa, Pakistan, West Indies, Sri Lanka going down the ladder a bit. The important thing is the quality of cricket which is played. I don't think tweaking the format this way or that way will make that sort of a difference and neither there should be too much of tweaking every year. That's the way it is. You need to hold the game together and what is important is the standard of the game."
He also said that more needs to be done for the differently-abled cricketers, who now come under the ambit of the BCCI. "We will try and organise it (differently-abled cricket). It is a part of the constitution. Just like women's cricket has got organised over the years, I am sure this will also get organised in coming years. We will speak to General Manager Cricket Operations to see how it has been so far and we will see how we can do it better."
'Don't know what's on Dhoni's mind but champions don't finish quickly'
Ganguly revealed he was yet to have a conversation with MS Dhoni about the latter's future in international cricket but called the stumper a "champion", invoking a callback to the second-wind of his own career after he was dropped in 2006 during the tenure of erstwhile India coach Greg Chappell.
"I have taken over today and hopefully we will have a word with one of the greats of Indian cricket [Dhoni]," Ganguly said. "It depends on him. Even when I was left out and when the entire world said he will never make it, I believed in myself and came back and played for four years. Champions don't finish quickly. I don't know what is in his mind, what he thinks about his career. We will leave at that. He is one of the greats of the game. Over a period of time, his achievements, when you sit down and take note, you say wow. So, when I am around, everybody will be respected.
'When Bangladesh's prime minister has given consent, I don't see the players not turning up'
With the Bangladesh players protesting against its board and stating, their tour of India is still unconfirmed. However, Ganguly is positive of the series going as planned. "I spoke to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and she has agreed to come and visit for the Test match on November 22," he said. "When Prime Minister has given consent, I don't see the players not turning up. At the end of the day, it's their decision, their internal matter when they do not have any say."
Commentators can speak their mind
One being asked if the Indian commentators will be given diktats by the board like they were reportedly in the previous BCCI regimes, Ganguly said, "When I was a commentator, nobody called me up and said 'you can't say this and you can't say that'. So, I don't have that experience, but I have heard it. Such sort of issues and diktats were there but I have never been asked to do that during my tenure as a commentator. I have not been commentating a lot because of the time it takes. So, from that point of view, I don't see it as an issue."

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