Sourav Ganguly takes guard for a fresh innings
A successful Test captain in his time, one of the best in fact to serve Indian cricket, Sourav Ganguly has now stepped in for another important innings aiming to give the sport a shot in the arm and of course add glitter to his already sterling career.
The new President of the BCCI, Ganguly has revealed that touch of confidence and straightness which had catapulted him as one of country's foremost batsman, the left-hander whose brilliant off side play is a folklore in cricketing circles. At 47 years Ganguly is relatively young as compared to the officials around him that he has overtaken, but rich in experience for he was already serving as the President of the Cricket Association of Bengal and become aware of what administrative responsibilities and challenges are.
Like the flamboyance he was famous for as a captain and batsman and also the chutzpah he displayed, Indian cricket is bound to witness a new era and that is what experts watching him believe.
One of the common clichés heard in sports is for sportspersons of excellence saying, “I wish to give back to the sport that has made me what I am.” We have seen how P.T. Usha has begun an Academy in a bid to fulfill that one big dream that eluded her, a medal in the Olympics. She believed it was possible and coming from someone who had the field experience and also watching what facilities there are world over to help achieve high goals, Usha wanted to put her thought process into play and that is what happened.
The famous examples of even more success in this line are Prakash Padukone and P. Gopichand in badminton. What all they have done and in particular Gopichand, to make badminton the most happening sport in the country need no extra elaboration for it is already there. Suffice to state India today has a World champion and Olympic medallists and the lookout is for that big prize, the Olympic gold next. Suddenly everything seem in the zone of possibility for such is the positive impact that quality sportspersons of yore could give to the sport.
Similar is the elevation of Ganguly now in what unquestionably is the most visible sport in the country. The BCCI is one of the richest Association that the world of sports has seen. We have had officials who have guided the sport thus far with a touch of efficiency, but the betting scandal and the controversy that surrounded it virtually marred the functioning and the good name of the Board.
The Supreme Court's entry, the Lodha committee and the Committee of Administrators followed to prop up the cricket body. Time now is for a fresh start by an elected body and could it have been better than seeing a cricketer himself rise to the helm? The Prince of Kolkata may have the experience of being the President of the CAB but what cricketers in general see in him is his ability to face the odds.
He did it as a player, the Test debut century in Lords in 1996 was an apt reply to critics who had doubted his credibility. As a captain too he proved different but effective and what is more several players benefited from his clarity of thoughts. Perhaps this is what is the need of the hour for BCCI and even if it is 10 months that he will serve (before he goes into the mandatory cooling off period), there is belief in cricket circles he will leave a mark to give it a greater shape at a later date.
What is also noteworthy about Ganguly's rise is that it sends out a clear signal to all sportspersons who had served the nation in their chosen field that they have an opportunity to think again of doing so in another capacity. Often sports federations in India are mired by groupism and ego-play of officials that sadly in the end impacts adversely the people who matter, the sportspersons themselves.
We have seen this happen in volleyball, basketball, boxing and there could be more. More recently we were given an insight of how the Gymnastics Federation functioned with none other than the IOA President Narinder Batra lashing out at the GFI President Sudhakar Shetty for the way the Federation functioned.
Batra had claimed in a letter to the World Body (FIG) that Mr Shetty had no interest in the sport that he was not aware that his signatures were being forged by other officials! Whatever be the politics in administration of this sport, imagine the plight of fellow gymnasts. What wrong did they do to deserve this?
Change as they say is the essence of growth. Time is now for change in the outlook of sports administration. With so much funding happening and Government too coming with scheme that opened up facilities in tune with modern times, it is essential there should be accountability.
No longer is participation alone a be all and end all of major sporting programmes like Olympics and Asian Games. The call for results has to rise. It is here that officialdom can do a difference, particularly people who have a strong ground experience, former sportspersons themselves.
Ganguly may or may not have his way totally. That has to be seen but surely every move of his will be keenly followed. But ths iconic cricketer has shown the way for sporting greats in other disciplines to take the cue.