Cricket

Sourav Ganguly oversteps the fold and the rules to attend selection meetings

Hussain Ahmad, Kohli fan

WHEN WRIDDHIMAN Saha expressed his shock at being left out of the Test squad despite assurances from Sourav Ganguly, the Bengal wicket-keeper unwittingly drew attention to a new practice that flouts board governance standards of cricket: the former Indian captain and current president of the BCCI was not cleared. say when it comes to selection.

The constitution of the BCCI prohibits its president from playing a role in the selection of the national team in order to maintain the independence and autonomy of the selection committee. “The president is deprived of a say in the selections,” says the constitution approved by the Supreme Court. The only member of the BCCI office authorized to be present is the secretary, who acts as convener without having a say in the selection.

However, The Indian Express spoke to three past and present selectors under Ganguly’s tenure, who confirmed he regularly attends selection meetings. A senior BCCI official went so far as to claim that Ganguly has attended all selection meetings since he took office as BCCI president in October 2019.

Raising the issue of ownership, two selectors said Ganguly would log on to online selection meetings and “due to his stature and position, no one could object”. One of them revealed that they often felt “intimidated” by his presence. “It made many committee members uncomfortable and hesitant to speak their minds,” the coach said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

With Ganguly as BCCI chief, the selection committee made key decisions including the ousting of Virat Kohli as ODI skipper and the captaincy of Rohit Sharma in all formats.

Several sources within the Indian Council have confirmed Ganguly’s attendance at the selection meetings. They said given the former captain’s stature – he played 113 Tests and 311 One-Day Internationals – less experienced managers were ‘reluctant to voice their opinion’. This undermined the power of Indian cricket’s all-important decision-making committee, they said.

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Current selectors chairman Chetan Sharma has appeared in 23 Tests and 65 One-Day Internationals and his predecessor MSK Prasad in six Tests and 17 ODIs.

The combined experience of the current group of selectors, which also includes Debashish Mohanty, Sunil Joshi and Harvinder Singh, is 43 Tests and 195 ODIs. The previous panel had played nine Tests and 28 ODIs between them.

Last month, Saha spoke about the message he received from Ganguly after scoring half a century against New Zealand despite a neck injury.

“After scoring 61 against New Zealand in Kanpur, Grandma (Ganguly) congratulated me on WhatsApp and mentioned, ‘As long as I’m here (head of BCCI) you’ll be in the team “Such a message from the BCCI chairman really boosted my confidence. What I find hard to understand is how things have changed so fast,” Saha had told the Sunday Express, referring to his omission. of the team for the Sri Lanka series.

Ganguly’s closeness to the selection committee was first revealed on October 24, 2019, a day after his election as president of BCCI, when the board tweeted a photo with a caption: “All smiles at the Senior Selection Committee meeting earlier this afternoon as the squads for the upcoming T20I & Test series against Bangladesh were announced.

The image showed Ganguly seated between then-chief selector Prasad and BCCI secretary Jay Shah and with then-skipper Kohli, Rohit Sharma and other selectors.

Recently, when the photo started making the rounds on social media again, Ganguly denied that the frame was from a selection meeting. In an interview with PTI, he said: “I want to clarify that the photo was not from a selection committee meeting.”

On the allegations that he influenced the selection of the team, he told the news agency: “I don’t think I need to respond to anyone (about this) and pay tribute to these baseless accusations. I am the president of BCCI and I do the work of what the president of BCCI should do. (I played) 424 international matches for India. It’s not a bad idea sometimes to remind people of that, is it? »

When The Indian Express sent a detailed questionnaire to Ganguly on the matter, he did not respond.