Finally, the suspense is over. Saurav Ganguly or Dada is the new BCCI President.
On his unanimous selection, the response from the public has also been unanimous thus far. In fact, the overwhelming response from the cricket-mad public reminds me of the old Pepsi advertisement line: ‘Yeh hi hai right choice, baby’. Irrespective of whether cricket is in politics or politics is in cricket.
For many cricket lovers, the time is to rejoice this moment of having Saurav Ganguly at the helm of cricketing affairs in the country. The time is also to wish him the very best from the bottom of our hearts for whatever steps he would take for the betterment of the game and for improving the prospects of its primary, secondary, and tertiary stakeholders.
The level of trust in Dada is undoubtedly high for he has proved himself earlier as the leader of the Indian Cricket Team and also as the head of the West Bengal Cricket Association soon after retiring from the game. Never mind the fact that he has only 10 months to serve in this position.
Dada, born to lead
Dada’s elevation is significant on many counts, of which I list down just three. First, in a democratic country like India, there will be opposition to virtually anything and everything that comes on board. Particularly from leftists and liberals considering the political environment that exists today. In Dada’s case, even they are on the same page. That is a good sign, whatsoever.
A right man has been put at the right place. That’s what matters at end of the day.
Second, when cricket itself is in trouble, all stakeholders of the game, including the politicians associated with the game,will come around and be on the same platform to pull the game out of danger. We had seen it earlier also when the match-fixing saga was consuming the game from its roots. To that extent, we should give due credit to the heads of the cricket associations from the district level to the state level for setting aside their internal differences and standing unitedly for the cause of cricket. Even in such a scenario, Dada becoming the unanimous choice speaks volumes about the credibility that the man enjoys across the broad political and cricketing spectra.
Third, Dada is born to lead. The world saw his leadership skills only after he was given the responsibility to lead the national cricket team at the peak of match-fixing allegations and people were looking at everything related to cricket with suspicion. By bringing in talented young cricketers into the national scene irrespective of their ‘regional or state origin’, standing up for them and backing them during their difficult times, and sacrificing his own opening batting position, Dada brought in a sense of new vision to Indian cricket. In the process, he also brought the whole of India together on a common platform. He has several achievements to his credit as the captain of the Indian cricket team, which need not be stated here.
To make any meaningful impact, he is surely on a ‘familiar’ territory today.
As mentioned earlier, Indian cricket is going through difficult times with several challenges. Be it the erosion of BCCI’s standing in the ICC, BCCI’s handling of its financial resources, raising the status of women’s cricket in the country, financial security of thousands of talented cricketers who could not make it to the highest level, and so on. In the 10 months that he has, even if he lays a clear roadmap to finding solutions for some of the above, it will be a great contribution. I honestly wish he goes beyond just laying the foundation and achieve much more that. Because nobody doubts his intentions, capabilities, and, specially, his resolve to pursue what he wants in a ‘relentless’ manner. A little bit of Dadagiri is also welcome if it can set things straight.
Politics in cricket or cricket in politics what matters is important
Politics as a social science touches every aspect of a society. And its intrusion in any aspect of societal activities will have both positive and negative consequences. In a democratic country like India, the consequences of political intrusion are even more visible with a free media.
Cricket is very much a part of our society and not something beyond it. So, as long as cricket is alive and part of our society, we can’t possibly separate cricket and politics. And we can weed out one from the other because of the common factors running through both. If politics is about people, cricket is also about people. If politics is about power, cricket is also about power. If politics is about money, cricket is also about the same. If politics is about remaining in the public sphere, cricket offers the same to politicians and vice versa.
A lot ‘reading between the lines’ is still going on after Dada’s meeting with Amit Shah and also on the alleged role played by Himanta Biswa Sharma. The speculation of Dada joining the BJP before the West Bengal Assembly elections in 2021 as a ‘quid pro quo’ deal is also floating around in the social and mainstream media. Such things do not merit any attention for the simple reason that a right man has been put at the right place.
That’s what matters at end of the day.
A lot of journalists and cricketers have expressed their joy and a few articles that I have read on his elevation caution Dada on the challenges ahead. Some opined that he won’t be able make any meaningful impact considering the short period (10 months) he has at his disposal. To make any meaningful impact talked about doubt his new role, coming to think of it, for all that we know of Dada, as Saurav is known in the country, he is surely on a ‘familiar’ territory today.