The baton of Bengal cricket administration is poised for a generational shift on Thursday, with former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly all set to take over as president of the Cricket Association of Bengal — a week after a rained out T20 International at the Eden Gardens has seemingly taken some shine off the big change.
While Ganguly replaces the departed Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president Jagmohan Dalmiya, the Special General Meeting on the morrow would also see the formal entry of the late cricket czar’s son Avishek into cricket administration, completing the change of guard.
Dalmiya junior would be the association’s new joint secretary, a post held by Ganguly since July last year. Subir Ganguly is likely to continue as the other joint secretary and Biswarup Dey as the treasurer.
While the talismanic ex-player would be the first Test cricketer to head the cash-rich CAB, Dalmiya’s stint is also likely to be watched with keen interest – with sporting circles likely to draw constant parallelis with his famous father.
But it is Ganguly who would be under constant scrutiny. During the twilight of his playing career, Ganguly was told by a journalist that he was under the scanner. He promptly replied: “I’m always under the scanner, mate”. There are indications that the coming days would be no exception.
The cancellation of the October 8 T20 game between India and South Africa without a ball being bowled has not only come in as a reality check for Ganguly, but also provided him an inkling about the challenges he could be up against, particularly in the wake of allegations of “sabotage”, “inefficiency and “negligence” that has been levelled against a section of the CAB for the fiasco.
On Thursday last, even eight hours were not enough to dry the ground after less than 30 minutes of rains measuring 14.2 millimetre. The consequence was an abandonment, which left heartbroken a 25,0000 crowd that assembled despite the dead rubber.
Realising that cancellation or heavy curtailment of the match could set tongues wagging, a desperate Ganguly himself ventured into the ground, soon after the rains stopped, barefoot, his trousers rolled up to the knees and spoke to the the groundsmen on ways to get rid of the water on the playing surface.
As the clock ticked on and everyone became edgy, with the two umpires ruling the ground unsuitable for play after their first and second inspection, Ganguly again entered the ground with CAB trustee board chairman Gautam Dasgupta. He was seen speaking to the ground’s octogenarian curator Prabir Mukherjee and Indian skipper M.S. Dhoni, as three super soppers worked fervently while the groundsman used their traditional mop and bucket method.
But all this proved futile, and the umpires abandoned the game on their third inspection at 9.30 p.m..
A section in the CAB feel Ganguly, being new to cricket administration, should not have jumped into the forefront in tackling the situation.
“He should have let the more experienced members to take charge. This would also have shielded him from any adverse criticism in case of no-play,” a key member of the CAB told IANS on condition of anonymity.
“But because of his stature, when he took the lead in full public view, a large part of the blame fell on him, with his detractors getting the chance to say they were ignored not consulted. He needs to be more careful in future in taking along his team.”
It is a known fact that an influential section of CAB has not liked the way West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced and purportedly influenced Ganguly’s ascendancy to the throne. Not in a position to go against CM’s wishes, some important CAB personalities are now biding their time to strike back.
The allegations of “negligence” and “conspiracy” followed reports that a major part of the ground was kept uncovered on October 8, despite a rain forecast. In fact, for quite some time even after the skies opened up, the ground remained in the same state. Some television channels have also claimed that the groundsmen and those in charge of the pitch preparation continued to relish their lunch as the rains poured.
But the match fiasco notwithstanding, Ganguly has earned plaudits for the sincerity and sense of purpose he has shown after his unanimous election as the joint secretary last year. Within months, he laid out the vision 2020 — a project to develop Bengal cricket — roping in legends like Muttiah Muralitharan, Waqar Younis and V.V.S Laxman to nurture talents from the state.
Laxman was all praise for Ganguly — the cricket administrator.
“Sourav is taking his role seriously and I believe he has lot to contribute. He has got immense respect in the cricketing fraternity and has got a great understanding of the game. It’s a perfect mix for him as an administrator,” the Hyderabadi said.