Torchbearers are often guided by the saying, "Go for it now. The future is promised to no one." That is probably what Sourav Chandidas Ganguly, affectionately called ‘Dada’, thought while making the tough choice of captaining India in the wake of the match-fixing scandal.
It won’t be wrong to say that the role of the Indian cricket captain is probably the second most scrutinized position in the country after that of the Prime Minister.
In the aftermath of the match-fixing scandal it looked like Indians were going to lose interest in the game. Cricket, apart from being a religion in India, is also a major driver of the economy, so the decline in attention for it was hugely worrisome.
To revive a dying game and that too with a team of highly demoralized players needed incredible guts and motivation. That’s when Dada emerged as the torchbearer of hope and reassured the Board and more importantly the people of India that cricket was in safe hands.
After taking up the captaincy in 2000, what Ganguly went on to achieve will always form one of the most glorious chapters of Indian cricket.
When his era ended, a young turk in the form of MS Dhoni took up the task of captaining the India side. Dhoni managed to win every major ICC tournament, and statistically eclipsed Ganguly in almost every aspect.
Today, when a comparison arises between the two stalwarts of the game, it is said that Ganguly was the best captain of the Indian team while Dhoni was the captain to lead the best Indian side. The foundation for the best Indian side was laid by none other than the 'Prince of Kolkata.'
19 years later, history seems set to repeat itself. Ganguly has been appointed as the President of the BCCI, a position earlier held by some big names like Jagmohan Dalmiya and N Srinivasan.
Surprisingly, such a lofty position comes with a maximum term length of 9 months. By the end of July a new BCCI president will be elected, and Ganguly will bow down after a hopefully successful period at the helm.
What can we expect from the former Indian captain in his all-new avatar? Before his appointment, Ganguly had made it very clear that his number one priority as BCCI President would be to fine-tune the health of first-class cricket. In the coming nine months, we may get to see some long-term investments made in domestic cricket.
When Ganguly captained the side he always backed some of his existing players. MSK Prasad, currently serving as the Chief Selector, has introduced several players in a short window of time. It remains to be seen if there will be any difference of opinion between the Chief Selector and the President.
If Prasad plans to exit, Ganguly may consider VVS Laxman or Anil Kumble for the coveted role. That may also see Ajinkya Rahane and Manish Pandey coming back to the ODI side.
When he was in his prime, Ganguly never hesitated from lofting Pakistani bowlers out of the park. And over the last couple of years, cricketing ties between India and Pakistan have gone from bad to worse.
As long as the issue remains politically motivated, there is little that Ganguly can do to fix it. But Ganguly is unpredictable; just like his knack of picking wickets, he may well pull out something extraordinary to defuse the situation.
First-class cricket may witness a new era altogether. It won’t be surprising if Ganguly establishes a new league for honing the talent pool of the young players.
One thing is for sure - nine months later when Dada walks out, his Midas touch and strategic moves will dearly benefit Indian cricket in the long run.
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