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Buzz over Sourav's role in ICC

The organisation is yet to finalise its nomination process which is likely to dominate the board meeting on May 28

By Indranil Majumdar in Calcutta

  • Published 23.05.20, 3:47 AM
  • Updated 23.05.20, 3:47 AM
Sourav Ganguly
Sourav Ganguly Telegraph picture

Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith may have prematurely backed Sourav Ganguly as International Cricket Council (ICC) chairman but there’s no doubt that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president will emerge as a strong candidate in the run-up to choosing Shashank Manohar’s successor.

Manohar has declared that he will not seek a third term as chairman despite being eligible for it. However, many in cricketing circles prefer to take the statement with a pinch of salt since he has made U-turns on similar declarations during his stints as BCCI president and ICC chairman.

There’s also a strong belief within ICC circles that Manohar may be persuaded to carry on as world cricket grapples with the pandemic and its devastating consequences.

India’s financial stronghold in world cricket and the financial mess that most cricket bodies find themselves in have forced some to ponder over Sourav as chairman.

Manohar will be allowed to continue for a few more months if the ICC decides to postpone its annual conference from July to September. The ICC is yet to finalise its nomination process which is likely to dominate the board meeting on May 28.

Manohar became the first independent chairman of the ICC in 2016 and was re-elected unanimously in 2018.

Sourav hasn’t attended an ICC board meeting in person but did so via video-conference in late March. An ICC spokesman confirmed to this newspaper that by doing so, the former India captain is eligible to throw his hat in the ring for the chairman’s post. He would have attended two board meetings of the world body by May 28.

Candidates need to have attended a board meeting or been a past director to qualify for the chairman’s post.

The 15 directors (12 Test playing nations and three Associates) on the board then nominate one candidate and nominees with two or more votes can contest for the chairman’s post.

To be elected as an independent chairman, one needs a two-third majority on the board. England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Colin Graves, the favourite to take charge from Manohar, though has been pushing for a simple majority.

Sourav wasn’t available for his comments but someone close to him said that the former India captain is keeping his fingers crossed.

“Sourav wants to concentrate on the BCCI president’s job for now. The BCCI has already filed a petition in the Supreme Court requesting the apex court to take up the case on extension of their tenures. As of now, if that materialises he will continue for three years.

“Indian cricket is his top priority and he’s not thinking of anything else. He will think about it if the opportunity arises but he is not keen at the moment. To him the BCCI president’s post is certainly more prestigious,” the source told The Telegraph on Friday.

But does Sourav have the votes to get through? It’s still early days but the buzz is that he has a good chance.

“BCCI will have a leadership role to play in these tough times. Be it financially by organising bilateral series or through lucrative TV deals, BCCI’s role can’t be discounted with,” someone in the know of things said.

“Cricket Australia is banking heavily on India’s tour this summer. Cricket South Africa (CSA) is also optimistic of hosting India for three lucrative T20Is in late August. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are most likely to go with India,” the source remarked.

“The Associates will go with the one who promises financial benefits. So the numbers won’t be a problem for Sourav and BCCI.”

But what will be the Pakistan Cricket Board’s stand? When contacted, chairman Ehsan Mani was non-committal.

“Sourav Ganguly is not a candidate yet. If he is, we will consider it then,” said Mani.

CSA on Thursday backtracked hours after its director and former captain Smith supported Sourav for the chairman’s post.

“We have the highest regard for the opinions of our director of cricket, Graeme Smith, who is a well-respected figure in world cricket and has already made an immense contribution in fulfilling his mandate to make our cricket teams world leaders again,” CSA president Chris Nenzani said in a statement.

“At the moment we don’t want to anticipate any candidates who may be nominated for this important position to lead the game we all love. There have been no candidates nominated as yet and once such nominations have been made the board of CSA will take its decision in terms of its own protocol and give the chairman the mandate to exercise his vote as an ICC board director accordingly.”

It wouldn’t be prudent to rule out Sourav’s credentials though. Remember the way he pulled off a coup of sorts to take the BCCI president’s chair last October.

But who will take charge of BCCI if Sourav is elevated to the ICC? Jay Shah is being tipped as president then while Arun Singh Dhumal will be the secretary. The apex court’s nod will prove to be vital for Shah.

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