First priority will be to look after first-class cricketers, says BCCI presidential candidate Sourav Ganguly

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When the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) goes back to being a democracy from October 23rd onwards after three years of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), Indian cricket’s most celebrated captain – Sourav Ganguly – will in all likelihood take over as the next president.

For now, it will only be a short stint at the top post for Ganguly as he will have to go in for a cooling-off period from July 2020 under the new rules. He has been holding posts in the Cricket Association of Bengal for the past five years where he currently serves as president and an administrator can only serve six years at a trot.

“That’s the rule. So we will have to deal with it. My priority will be to look after first-class cricketers. I had requested to the CoA and they have not listened. Ranji Trophy cricket will be the focus. To take care of cricketers’ financial interest,” he said after his name was finalized in an informal meeting of BCCI state units.

When Ganguly took over as India captain in 2000, Indian cricket was in muddy waters, picking up pieces after the match-fixing scandal. He drove Indian cricket to safety and instilled belief that India could win overseas. Now with BCCI’s clout significantly reduced at the ICC, the former skipper’s board-room tact will be a test.

“I am happy with the appointment because this is the time when BCCI’s image has got hampered and it’s a great opportunity for me to do something.

“Whether you are elected unopposed or otherwise, it’s a big responsibility because it is the biggest organization in the world of cricket. India is a powerhouse. It will be a challenge,” he said.

When India Today asked him to compare his emotions now and when he had become India captain, he said, “Nothing can beat being India captain.”

“I never thought I would be President,” was his response when asked if he had been thinking. But India Today has reliably learned, it was only the top post-Ganguly was ready to take up when negotiations were on.

After Ganguly refused other posts being offered, former India cricketer Brijesh Patel looked set to take over.

Subsequently, with Patel’s name not finding complete backing and BJP brass in BCCI in favor of handing reigns to Ganguly, the tide turned.

There has also been talk of ruling BJP striking a deal with the cricket star for being the face of their next political battleground – Bengal elections against rival Mamata Banerjee or at least being a star campaigner.

Ganguly denied the same. “Nothing of that sort. Nobody has told me,” he said. Ganguly will be filing his nomination papers in person, Monday morning at BCCI headquarters.

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