Sourav Ganguly, still batting with poise at 49

As the Indian team gears up for the five-match Test series against England, Sourav Ganguly is confident of its chances.

BCCI president Sourav Ganguly at a COVID-19 vaccination centre near his residence in Kolkata.   -  PTI

Sourav Ganguly turns 49 on Thursday.

Usually, on his birthday, the fans gather around his Behala residence in Kolkata to catch a glimpse of their beloved Maharaj and shower him with wishes. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has called for a muted celebration.

And it is likely to be a working day for the former India captain, who is now the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The administrative work will keep him busy. 

Ganguly has followed the World Test Championship (WTC) final closely. As the Indian team gears up for the Test series against England, he is confident of their chances. “India is a good side. They have won in Australia and have beaten England in the home series. They just lost one Test match (the final). It is still a strong side, and I am looking forward to them playing well in the five-Test series,” Ganguly told Sportstar.

After the WTC final loss to New Zealand, the Indian cricketers are currently on a 20-day break and will reassemble in Durham on July 14 to prepare for the series, which begins in Nottingham on August 4.  “They are playing a tour game ahead of the series,” Ganguly added.

The team is likely to play a game against the Selected County XI between July 20 and 22.

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The administrators will have a lot on their plate over the next few months. The women's team, currently touring in England, will be flying to Australia in August, followed by the Indian Premier League and the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

A section of the former cricketers feel that the Board should conduct a multi-day domestic tournament for the women cricketers so that the team gets used to the format before touring Down Under. However, that looks unlikely.

“They are going to Australia in August (the series starts from September 19). It's monsoon time here. Also they have to be inside a bubble, quarantined for 14 days - there are a lot of things that need to be considered,” Ganguly said. The team, however, is expected to have some game time after reaching Australia.

There is a buzz that spectators - who are fully vaccinated - can be allowed for the IPL. “As far as allowing the crowd is concerned, it will all depend on the UAE government and the local administration. We will have to abide by their guidelines. There is time so hopefully, they will come up with their guidelines soon and then we can take a call on that,” the BCCI chief said.

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The BCCI also plans to conduct a full-fledged domestic season this time, with a total of 2,127 matches to be played. The Board will have a bio-bubble for the tournaments to ensure the safety of the players and other stakeholders. “We will create bio-bubbles. We created bubbles for Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy last time. We will have to do the same. Without the bubble, cricket cannot happen even for this season," Ganguly said.

From left: Sunil Gavaskar, Arun Dhumal, Yuvraj Singh and Sourav Ganguly at the Sportstar Aces Awards in Mumbai in 2020.   -  VIJAY SONEJI


Due to the pandemic, it was a curtailed domestic season last year, and the Board has decided to financially compensate the players as the Ranji Trophy could not happen. A 10-member committee will be finalised to discuss the compensation package for the players.

As per the schedule released by the BCCI last week, the domestic season is scheduled to begin on September 21 with the Senior Women's One Day League. 

The Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy will begin on October 20, followed by Ranji Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy.

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