MUMBAI: Former captain Sourav Ganguly on Wednesday vowed to clean up Indian cricket as he was elected president of the sport’s rich and powerful but troubled national board.
Cricket’s massive popularity in India has made the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) by far the wealthiest of all the national boards, netting massive sums from sponsorship and TV deals.
But it has also been embroiled in a series of scandals, including accusations of corruption and match-fixing that tarnished the Indian Premier League (IPL) — the country’s lucrative Twenty20 extravaganza.
The appointment of the 47-year-old Ganguly — for an initial 10 months only — at a meeting in Mumbai on Wednesday ends more than two years of a committee appointed by India’s top court overseeing the board’s affairs.
“It’s an honour that I have been asked to take this role by the members when it’s a new start for the BCCI,” Ganguly, wearing his India captain’s blazer, said in his first address as BCCI chief.
“Things need to be brought back in place, reforms need to be done, huge amounts of money to be paid to state associations.
“It’s a challenge and I’ll do it the way I know. The way which I feel is best for BCCI with no compromise on credibility, corruption-free and same-for-all BCCI. That’s the way I led India and that’s the way I will take forward this organisation with whatever time I have.”
‘Kohli, most important man for INDIA’
A corruption and match-fixing scandal in the sixth edition of the IPL in 2013 brought about the downfall of the board’s then-president Narayanaswami Srinivasan after his son-in-law was accused of betting on matches.
The appointment of his successor Anurag Thakur and his number two Ajay Shirke was seen as representing a break with the past.
But in January 2017 Thakur and Shirke were axed by the Supreme Court over their inability to enact a series of recommended reforms.
The order came after judges slapped restrictions on the BCCI’s accounts in 2016 over its failure to implement changes put forward by a panel headed by a former top judge, Rajendra Mal Lodha.
The court then appointed a top anti-corruption troubleshooter, Vinod Rai, as head of a team to oversee the running of board.
But the board’s reluctance to implement Lodha’s recommendations, which included age limits and term limits on office-bearers, had triggered a number of legal battles.
Ganguly promised to listen to national skipper Virat Kohli, the “most important man in Indian cricket”, and said he would speak to the star player on Thursday.
“Virat Kohli is the most important man in Indian cricket, we will listen to him. Mutual respect will be there, opinions will be there,” Ganguly said.
“We will support him in every possible way, whatever he wants.”
Ganguly, a left-handed opener, retired from Test cricket in 2008 having accumulated 7,212 runs including 16 centuries — his first made at Lord’s on debut. — AFP