Does Sourav Ganguly Need A Rehabilitation Package?

It is a historical fact that cricketers from the Eastern and the North Eastern regions of the country rarely make it as big as Sourav Ganguly and get to represent Team India at the international level. We’re yet to have a cricketer from the states of North East India who’s made it to Team India. Therefore, when some player achieves this feat people of that particular state or region get ecstatic and their euphoria normally gets translated into a range of sentiments and emotions—positive most of the times, but can be darker at moments of adversity that, according to their perceptions, seem to affect their loved cricketer. I remember quite a few instances while I had been to Kolkata and happened to listen to the radio commentary of India’s test or one-day matches out on the streets. Invariably a person would come up to me and ask what the score was. I would reply India was batting and the score was this or that. On almost a reflex emotion the person would want to know, “Is Ganguly still batting?” If informed that Ganguly was out with a poor score s/he would grimace bitterly. Well, emotions or sentiments are produced among the most powerful people of the concerned state or region too, with the exception that most of such people of the political orientation would use those to score brownie points for their party or for self.


Now, Sourav Ganguly, one of the finest opening batsmen of world cricket and arguably the very first genuinely aggressive India captain, remains a living legend of Indian cricket irrespective of what the BCCI or anybody has done to him. What happened exactly? The BCCI had ‘denied’ him a second term as President of the Board. Why use ‘deny’? He had been the first cricketer to be appointed or elected as the BCCI President for a full three-year term and we all hailed his appointment as the most welcome step as far as the game of cricket was concerned. BCCI being the richest cricket box office of the world that jingles constantly politics had been a part and parcel of its elections with political bigwigs always craving positions therein and to have their followers in the important posts. In its eventful and often turbulent history over the decades the BCCI had never had a President for consecutive two terms. Therefore, it should be gracefully accepted by all that to be able to serve the BCCI for full three years is more than enough honor for any individual of any level of celebrity.


Did Ganguly deserve a second term on merit by way of his outstanding achievements in the preceding three years? There’s not enough clinching evidence here. Of course, he had taken a lot initiatives in promoting the domestic cricket arena and started the first ever day-n-night Pink Tests in India in 2019; he’d brought in legendary veterans, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, into active cricket roles; and he’d clinched the never-before business deal for the IPL recently. On the dubious side, if we can call it so, the huge Virat-captaincy controversy could’ve been handled much better, and in our view, he allowed the endless policy of experimentation in Team India cum mindless changes in the Indian batting order go on under the very nose of Rahul Dravid who was appointed Team India coach by him only. The pandemic did prove to be a big obstacle for Sourav no doubt, but the IPL promotion almost overshadowing international cricket that has been always the policy of the BCCI went on unhindered though and Ganguly just fell or had to fall in line.


As per media reports Sourav Ganguly did expect a second term and on being not given he looked irritated and discontented. However, it’d be puerile to think that Ganguly was not aware of the underbelly of politics in the BCCI elections, particularly in view of the fact that his own appointment in 2019 was a last-minute decision, and if it was not so he should’ve been proactive enough to fulfill the desires of the powers-that-be, particularly in the arena of West Bengal politics. Apparently, he lost the BCCI votes, but won the conscience vote which should’ve made him happy. Besides, he was offered the Chairman post of the IPL that he turned down as a demotion, again justifying his principles.  


As a natural outcome of the region-specific sentiments we mentioned earlier the ruling party of West Bengal, Trinamool Congress (TMC), has been raising a hue and cry over the underplay of politics in ‘denying’ Ganguly a second term. Now in recent days, TMC head and Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee had appealed to none other than the Prime Minister of India to consider Ganguly for the post of the Chairman of the ICC which was also reportedly denied to Ganguly by the Board. This is hardly better than begging for alms and I think it’s pathetic considering the stature of this brilliant and upright ex-cricketer. If you ask for alms you should do so for scores of ex-sportspersons who are languishing across nooks and corners of the whole country and are in extreme penury due to the lack of means to earn a living. And anyway, what’s so sacrosanct about the ICC Chairman’s post because everybody knows that it’s the BCCI who calls the shots in international cricket nowadays?


As we mentioned earlier Sourav Ganguly remains a living legend of Indian cricket and there’s absolutely no dearth of options for him in what to do next. In fact, days after the ‘denial’ Ganguly said in Kolkata that he’d been lucky to have served cricket admins in West Bengal and in India, and that such roles could not go on for eternity. It was reported recently that he was considering contesting the elections of Cricket Board of Bengal (CAB) again. Over the years Sourav Ganguly has been actively engaged in every possible sphere of activity in West Bengal or in India, both commercial and otherwise, and it’d be only matter of time before he decides what best to do next. Meanwhile, we must welcome the appointment of Roger Binny, another genuine cricketing gem and part of the 1983 World Cup winning Team India squad, as the President of the BCCI for the next three years and wish him all the luck for good work irrespective of the political pulls and triggers that just cannot be wished away.