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Indian Cricket and the Times of BCCI Chief Sourav Ganguly

Has Sourav Ganguly delivered on his promises in his time as BCCI President?

Published
Cricket
4 min read
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Sourav Ganguly has been and is an undisputed legend of Indian cricket, the man who taught the team to fight back and started a generational change in how Indian cricketers were seen and how they behaved.

But the change he managed to bring about inside cricket’s dressing rooms, Dada hasn’t really managed, in his second stint in the sport – as an administrator.

14 October 2019 heralded the start of what was expected to be something special – finally a cricketer in the Indian cricket administration. Sourav Ganguly was named the BCCI president.

One of his first statements after taking over was, "My biggest priority will be to look after first-class cricketers. I had requested that to the CoA for three years and they didn’t listen. That’s the first thing I will do, look after the financial health of our first-class cricketers."

Almost 3 years have passed since that comment as well, and the contracts for domestic cricketers is nowhere in sight.

In fact, when the pandemic forced most of the 2019-20 domestic season to be curtailed, and cricketers were left without a means of income, the board took more than a year to announce compensations! Meaning, more than a year without a single rupee coming into their bank accounts of the same domestic players Ganguly had said were his priority.

The Ranji Trophy, India’s premier domestic tournament, was cancelled for the first time in 2020-21, even though an IPL was organised. The Ranji this year too almost got cancelled, but then was forced to fit on two sides of the IPL after the board was criticised about their priorities.

That is the state domestic cricket is in.

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Just going back to the earlier Ganguly comment after his appointment and the mention he made of the three years spent by the CoA running the BCCI.

Ganguly and Jay Shah too have now spent nearly three years at their posts and there are some stark similarities to why the CoA was placed by the Supreme Court in the first place, and how it's pretty much back to normal business since the new board took over.

The CoA was appointed in January of 2017 because the then BCCI President Anurag Thakur was seen as incapable by the Supreme Court to implement the Lodha Committee reforms. Ganguly and Jay Shah took over in October of 2019 with an understanding that they would implement the Lodha reforms, one among which was was the tenure clause. All officials can serve the board for a total of 6 years, before they go into a mandatory cooling off period.

Ganguly and Shah’s 'cooling off period' started in July of 2020. Two years later, they are still in power, unlike what the Lodha Committee recommended. And much like the reason Anurag Thakur was evicted.

The Lodha Committee also recommended three selectors for the men’s national team, the board got it changed to five, but they don’t even have five for the last four months with one selector stepping down in February. The Cricket Advisory Committee that chooses the selectors is also one member short with Madan Lal's tenure ending in October 2021.

Replacements for the two posts? No, there’s been no time for that apparently.

So what was the whole point of the Lodha Committee, their recommendations, the time spent by the Supreme Court in their many hearings and the CoA, if things were going to go back to square one at the end of it all?

Yes, the board is making more money than ever before. The sponsorship of the IPL, the broadcast rights of the IPL and India matches – there are thousands of crores coming in every single year.

But where is the money going?

Certainly not in the pockets of India’s women cricketers.

The 2017 ODI World Cup runners-up and 2020 T20 World Cup finalists have shown tremendous improvement in the last few years – and definitely reached more ICC finals than the men’s team – but when it comes to getting back from the board, the efforts were almost comical.

The team’s prize money from the 2020 T20 World Cup wasn’t even handed to them for an entire year – the pandemic year when they played no International or domestic cricket.

When the board was busy organising an IPL during a pandemic and a men’s tour of Australia and home series as well, the Indian women’s cricket team felt the real pain of the pandemic when they were not given a single assignment for 12 whole months. Simply forgotten by the board, with a former captain as president.

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Just this past week, the New Zealand cricket board has taken massive strides in the right direction, announcing equal match fee for their male and female cricketers. Not just international players but domestic too.

And the BCCI?

The highest paid international female cricketer makes Rs 50 lakh a year from her central contract while the lowest grid in the men’s contract earns a male player Rs 1 crore.

This glaring gap existed from before Ganguly's tenure started, and has been left untouched ever since.

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