Sourav Ganguly’s innings as the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will come to an end after the powers-thatbe decided that 1983 World Cup-winning star Roger Binny will replace him at its annual general meeting in Mumbai on October 18.
Binny, 67, will thus become the third Test cricketer to head the BCCI. Besides Sourav, the Maharajkumar of Vizianagaram is the only other Test captain to be at its helm.
Sourav, according to sources, was unceremoniously told to vacate office on Tuesday morning after being kept in the dark for several days. The reason cited officially to him is that there’s no precedent of a president continuing for two consecutive terms.
The former captain was offered the chairmanship of the Indian Premier League (IPL) as compensation but he refused. Taking up the IPL role would have meant a sort of demotion.
Sources told The Telegraph that an influential Union minister, who has been calling the shots, didn’t want Sourav in the hot seat. Hectic parleys and back-room discussions have been on since the BCCI mandarins met the influential central minister and Union sports minister Anurag Thakur in New Delhi on Friday.
It is no secret that Sourav assumed the chair with the blessings of the ruling BJP in October 2019 and his removal has left several unanswered questions in its wake. His decision not to show any allegiance to the political party is also believed to have not gone down well with the hierarchy.
So is Sourav paying the price for not co-operating with the BJP during the last Bengal Assembly elections? Was he told to toe the BJP line in exchange for the president’s chair in the BCCI? Does Jay Shah get to continue as secretary for a second term because he is the son of Union home minister Amit Shah? These are the questions that have been cropping up ever since it became clear that Sourav’s role is over.
Political intervention in the BCCI’s elections is nothing new and has been common since the 1970s. But the manner in which a certain section of the Union government has been wielding the axe and wiping out any opposition in the corridors of power of Indian cricket is something that has raised eyebrows.
The elevation of Binny, the Karnataka State Cricket Association president, to the Board’s top chair has come as a surprise but the BCCI didn’t have a choice when it was decided that Sourav wouldn’t continue. The establishment needed a cricketer of repute at the top and Binny was the only one available in the setup besides former captain Mohammed Azharuddin, who is the Hyderabad Cricket Association chief. However, Azhar’s Congress affiliation and alleged links during the match-fixing scandal proved to be an impediment.
Binny, who filed his nomination on Tuesday, enjoys the backing of former BCCI supremo N. Srinivasan and outgoing IPL chairman Brijesh Patel. Srinivasan reportedly accused Sourav of non-performance and ambushing BCCI’s brands during the meeting in New Delhi.
Going by the developments, there’s a veil of uncertainty over whether Sourav’s name will be proposed by the BCCI for the election to the International Cricket Council’s chair, which is due in November.
While Jay Shah continues for a second term as the secretary, Maharashtra’s BJP heavyweight, Ashish Shelar, will be the new treasurer. Both filed their nominations for their respective positions in the presence of Sourav at the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai on Tuesday afternoon.
Shelar will thus have to pull out from the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) elections. On Monday, Shelar filed his nomination papers for the president’s post at the MCA, elections for which are due on October 20. It’s still unclear whether Binny’s former teammate Sandeep Patil will be elected unopposed as MCA president.
Arun Dhumal, the incumbent treasurer and a sibling of sports minister Thakur, is set to be the chairman of IPL. Rajeev Shukla, who had been aspiring for the high-profile IPL job, will have to continue as the BCCI vice-president. Brijesh Patel will be ineligible as he turns 70 in November and will be forced to vacate the seat. That is the maximum age limit for an office-bearer or administrator as per the BCCI’s constitution.
Assam’s Devajit Saikia, a first-timer in the Board, has filed his nomination papers for the joint secretary’s post, coming in place of Jayesh George of Kerala. The state’s advocate-general, Saikia is believed to be close to chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
There is unlikely to be a contest for any of the office-bearer’s positions.
Dalmiya for GC
There was some cheer for the Cricket Association of Bengal as Avishek Dalmiya is likely to be included in the IPL governing council. Mamon Majumdar, who was in the governing council last time, has been inducted into the apex council.