Sourav Ganguly is a busy man these days. Much busier than when he was leading the Indian cricket team.
The 47-year-old dons multiple hats — he is the president of the Cricket Association of Bengal, an advisor with Delhi Capitals, a commentator and also a popular television game show host. “You are blessed to have so many opportunities and you should do what comes your way…” he says, sporting a broad smile.
In Mumbai, on Friday, as the brand ambassador of fantasy cricket league, My11 Circle , Ganguly interacted with the winners of the league and shared his experience with them. As his fans got busy clicking selfies with their favourite ‘Dada’ , the former India skipper spoke to Sportstar on a range of issues…
It’s been a couple of years since the Committee of Administrators has been running the affairs of Indian cricket. Time and again, there have been controversies over the CoA’s functioning. Keeping all that in mind, how do you see the state of Indian cricket at the moment?
It’s hard to say. It’s a bit of a transition phase at this stage with new rules, new system. It will take a little bit of time to settle down. So, it is hard to say where it is going. The cricket part is fine. I don’t see any issues there. As far as the administrative part is concerned, we will only find out where it is going in the next three or four months once the elections happen.
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The elections are scheduled to be held on October 22, but till now there is not much clarity about the process. Do you think that a smooth transition is indeed possible?
Will have to see. It’s too early to comment on what exactly will happen. We will have to wait till it happens. It’s been a while, so we will have to wait a bit before passing a judgment.
From being the president of the Cricket Association of Bengal to a commentator — you don multiple hats. At a time, when 'conflict of interest' seems to have become the buzzword in Indian cricket, where do you see yourself in the future?
I do a whole lot of things. Television, cricket, IPL, I am president of the CAB at the moment — so I really don’t know what’s next for me. Let's see how this administrative part settles down and then we will take a call. It’s very hard to say right now. I look at it the other way — you are blessed to have so many other opportunities, and do what comes your way.
What’s your take on the Conflict of Interest issue? The legends of Indian cricket — you, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid — have all, time and again, been dragged into the conflict of interest controversies. How do you see it?
The conflict of interest needs to be defined properly, otherwise everybody will be in the ambit of conflict of interest. There was a meeting (in Mumbai last week, where some of the former cricketers were asked by the CoA to give their suggestions on the issue) where all the opinions were heard, let’s see how it goes.
So, what’s the way forward? Should there be an exception to the rule?
I wouldn’t say an exception should be made to the rule. But it has to be practical. It has to be defined, what is conflict of interest? Today Rahul Dravid is appointed NCA head and there are issues about his conflict of interest of his job with India Cements, so you got to be practical on that, you never know whether you would become NCA head or not, three years later you may not remain NCA head, but these jobs are permanent. So it’s got to be practically solved — even when you do commentary or coaching — I don’t see it as a conflict of interest.
Let’s talk a bit about Team India. Ever since the team was knocked out of the semifinals in the World Cup, there have been discussions over Mahendra Singh Dhoni's future. Do you think that the time is up for Dhoni?
To be honest, I don’t know. It depends on the way the team management thinks, the way the selectors think. Obviously, Dhoni is not young anymore, so this decision comes in everybody’s life at some stage or the other. So, we will have to wait and see for another three or four months to understand where it goes. Obviously, Rishabh (Pant) is in. He plays well. (But in the end), it all depends on the mindset of the selectors and what they think. It’s about whether they want to look at the future. Only time will tell.
What are your thoughts on Ravi Shastri being retained as the head of Indian team?
I wish him good luck.
Despite success in bilateral series, India has failed to win any ICC tournament since 2016. So, keeping that in mind, do you think that it was necessary to look beyond Shastri?
No, I think they have done well by giving Ravi a couple of years extension and I hope he does well. Hopefully now India can now go all the way in the two tournaments that are coming up (the T20 World Cups in 2020 and 2021).
While selecting the support staff, the national selection panel went in for Indian coaches. Despite being in the fray, someone like Jonty Rhodes missed out. How do you see it?
I am a big supporter of Indian coaches. The communication is good. They understand the mindset. I am not saying that overseas coaches are different. At one stage during the transition in 2000s we needed overseas coaches to guide young players and take a way forward. But I am extremely happy that our own home bred coaches are given priority which is good because they have put in a lot of effort.
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This country has produced some great players. The sport in this country is amazingly competitive. You go to first-class level, you see how competitive Ranji Trophy is. The sport is at its healthiest in India. There is England and Australia, but India is right up the ladder — the number one cricketing country in the world. I am not saying just in terms of the money it generates, but also that a number of people play the sport and players are attached to the game. So I am very happy that the likes of Ravi, before Ravi it was Anil (Kumble), R. Sridhar, Vikram (Rathour) and Bharat Arun have got the opportunity to take Indian cricket forward because they have as much ability as anybody else in the world.
Last season, you were an advisor with Delhi Capitals and worked closely with Prithvi Shaw. Now that the youngster is facing a suspension for a doping violation, how do you see it? Will there be a word of advice from you?
I like Prithvi because I feel he has got a lot of talent. He is someone who scored a hundred on Test debut (against the West Indies in Rajkot last year). He is a special talent. I will speak to him when I meet him.
Did you get a chance to speak to him after the incident? Also, do you think that being an international cricketer, Shaw should have been more careful?
No. I haven’t even met him since… I really don’t know what exactly happened and what’s the right story. What I read in media reports is that he took cough syrup. I really don’t know the facts, so it’s not fair commenting on the matter. But he is an exceptional talent. He has done well in whatever opportunities he has got. He missed the Australia tour due to injury. Now, he has missed the series against the West Indies. But, he will be around. He is a good kid and I have enjoyed working with him last season.
There are reports that Delhi Capitals will rope in Ravichandran Ashwin and Ajinkya Rahane in the coming IPL season...
Nothing has been finalised yet on Ashwin and Rahane.
You entered the coaching arena in the last IPL season as the advisor of Delhi Capitals. This time around, do we see you at a bigger role?
(Smiles) Let’s see what happens and how things go. Also, let’s see how this conflict of interest issue gets sorted…
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