Sourav Ganguly formally assumed charge of the BCCI on Wednesday, becoming the 39th BCCI president. After his election was formalised, the former India captain held forth on a variety of topics, and outlined his vision forward for Indian cricket. Excerpts:
It must be a big challenge to take over after these 33 months when the Supreme Court had to intervene.
It's an honour that I've been asked to take this role by the members. It's a new start for the BCCI. Coincidentally - fortunately or unfortunately - when I became captain it was a similar sort of a situation and I captained India for six years. And this is a similar sort of situation. Things need to be brought back in place, reforms need to be done, huge amounts of money needs to be paid to state associations. So it's a completely new start. From that point of view, I find myself in a position where I can make a change, and it's a challenge. I'll do it the way I know, in the way I feel is best for BCCI, with no compromise on credibility, and corruption free. That's the way I led India and that's the way I will take forward this organisation in whatever time I have. It's a pretty young group, Jay [Shah] is the secretary, Arun [Singh Dhumal] is the treasurer, Jayesh [George] is the joint-secretary. It's a pretty young team so we will have to do a lot of hard work. We don't know what's happened in the last three years, there was no AGM or working committee meeting, there were no committee meetings so we have no idea how it has happened. So we'll take note of everything and then do what is required for BCCI and Indian cricket. We all must understand that we're here to work for Indian cricket, that's what the job of the BCCI is. The game on the field - international cricket, domestic cricket, IPL cricket, and we will do that to the best of our abilities.
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I'll speak to him tomorrow. He's the captain of India, he is the most important man in Indian cricket. We'll have a word with him, and as I said, we'll support him in every possible way. He wants to make this team the best in the world. It's been a great team to be honest with you, the way we have played cricket in the last three-four years. It's a fantastic side, yes, you can say they haven't won the World Cup but you don't win World Cups every time. We'll support him for whatever he wants and make sure that Indian cricket goes ahead smoothly. In terms of the Test venues, we have a lot of space and venues so we'll have to sit with him and see what he wants and take it forward.
Due to a lack of institutional check, there's a sense that the Indian team management was becoming very powerful and there was nobody to check that. How do you look at that?
I really don't know what had transpired with the CoA and Virat and Ravi (Shastri). But the new body has taken over, the new office bearers have taken over, so it will be a proper discussion and everything would be mutually discussed. But be rest assured that we are here to make their life easier, not make their life difficult. And everything will be on the basis of performance. Performance is the most important thing and that's what will decide the future of Indian cricket.
As I said Virat Kohli is the most important man in this entire context. We will be there to support him. We will listen to him, because I have been a captain myself and I understand (what is needed) from that position, and we will deal with it. It is a mutual respect which will be there, so discussions will be there and we will do what is best for the game.
Will there be greater connectivity between you and the team since you've been a player?
I don't think there was a gap in connectivity earlier. When I was the captain, (Jagmohan) Dalmiya ji was the Board President. I don't remember a day when we asked for something and it was refused to us. When (N) Srinivasan ji was the president, MS Dhoni was India's captain, and you know how good their relation has been. Now Virat is captain, and I will have the type of relation with him where he will get whatever he needs for India to play well. And he is a very big player. Just see his game from the last four-five years, he's just taken Indian cricket to a different level. We have been with him, and we will remain with him and give him everything that his team needs to be the best.
Have you given any thought to whether split captaincy is needed for India?
That is the job of the selectors. And when that issue comes up we'll decide. Right now, India is winning. So there is no need for that question. Right now, perhaps India is the best team in the world, so I don't think that question is needed.
Have you spoken to MS Dhoni yet?
No, I haven't spoken with him yet. I have just taken over today so hopefully we will meet soon and have a word with one of the greats of Indian cricket.
You have had a lot of comebacks, so are you rooting for a comeback for Dhoni as well?
It depends on him. I've always said - even when I was left out and when the entire world said that, 'he'll never make it' - I believed in myself and came back and played for four years. You know champions don't finish very quickly. I don't know what's in his mind, what he thinks about his career, so we'll deal with that. He's one of the greats of the game. India is very proud to have MS Dhoni. His achievements, when you sit down and take note of what he's done, you say, 'Wow, MS Dhoni!' So, till I'm around, everybody will be respected. That doesn't change.
"It depends on him. When I was left out, I believed in myself and came back and played for four years. You know champions don't finish very quickly." Sourav Ganguly on MS Dhoni's future
Has it been decided who will represent India at the ICC?
No, it has not been decided. We'll take a call. But I think the ICC matter, it's important for everyone to know. Don't just go on hearsay. India is supposed to get 372 million (USD) from the ICC in the five-year cycle, which very heavy at the back end, because there are two world tournaments. There is a 2021  World Cup in Australia, and then they come to India for the Champions Trophy, which is a T20 in any case [2021 T20 World Cup], and then the World Cup. So a lot of the ICC money is the back-end money. Till now we've got whatever it is, but we'll make sure that we get our due. We will work with the ICC and take this forward.
Have the BCCI's accounts been passed?
No, the accounts haven't been passed. This was a general body meeting, not the annual general meeting so accounts need to be passed at the AGM. We'll call an AGM in three weeks' time and pass it. We also need to go through it because we are new so we don't have an idea of what expenses have happened in the three years. We'll call an AGM and then pass it. We'll send a notice for the AGM soon.
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Domestic cricket has suffered on many counts in the last few years. Would that be your priority?
That will be the first thing we'll do and we'll get it done before the actual Ranji Trophy season starts. The structures are there, the tournaments are there. In the last three years the matches have doubled actually. When I played for Bengal and some of my colleagues played for the other states, there were about 1000 games to be played. Now there are 2000 games between states and the affiliates. So we have to account for it. We have to make sure the best tournament in the country is competitive, and it remains important to everyone now because that's where you get the Kohlis and MS Dhonis, Ajinkya Rahanes and Rohit Sharmas of Indian cricket. So that structure has to be the best, both structure-wise and financially, and that will happen. That will be the first thing that will be done by the Apex Council.
The way Mumbai, Punjab were knocked out of the Vijay Hazare Trophy, wasn't that wrong?
See these are rules. At the end of the day, when the Vijay Hazare started, the rules were put down and sent to all state associations. It's a similar thing to what happened in the World Cup final. When New Zealand lost, everyone started jumping up and down with the rules, but New Zealand were aware of the rules. It's just unfortunate that they were on the wrong side of the rules. So we will assess it, try and make it simpler.
The rule was that whoever won more matches went through, which is also a way of saying you give value to your performances in the group stages. So it's not something which is completely wrong. Yes, the pertinent point is whether a reserve day could be kept for the knockouts. The quarter-finals, semi-finals are very important, which is a practical thing. So yes, that could be an option which could be taken. But you must remember, whatever happened, it was as per the basis of rules that were there form the start of the tournament.
There have been complaints about the fan experience in the South Africa Test series.
Yes but the same fans turn up for IPL isn't it? Where it's choc-a-block in the same stadium. So it's a bit more than just stadiums. Test cricket needs a revisit of how it can be popularised. Eden Gardens will host Bangladesh on November 22, and we don't know what's going to happen in that Test match. But you see an IPL game - and I was involved with the Delhi Capitals last year - you just couldn't keep people happy by giving tickets. Same stadium, same toilet, same ground, and people come in and turn up in huge numbers. I think the problem is somewhere else. But at the same time, infrastructure has to be done properly. But if you look at some of the new stadiums, they are remarkable. You go to Hyderabad, you go to Nagpur, the new stadium in Mumbai, Ranchi - it's fantastic. As much as you say that part needs to be looked at, and rightly so that part needs to be looked at.
"I was involved with the Delhi Capitals last year - you just couldn't keep people happy by giving tickets. Same stadium, same toilet, same ground, and people come in and turn up in huge numbers." Sourav Ganguly on fans' experience in Indian stadiums
Has the Apex Council replaced the working committee? Have the powers of secretary and joint-secretary been curtailed?
No, it's not correct, the Apex Council can give any powers to the office-bearers. It's not the right interpretation of the (Supreme Court) order. If you look at the Apex Council powers, it will designate powers to the president, secretary and the treasurer and it can give them any power. All the office-bearers are very important for the functioning of BCCI... I wouldn't use the word control, I don't like that word. It's about proper functioning of the BCCI. We have to be in the thick of things because at the end of the day, the responsibility has been put on us to get things going in the right direction.
How are you looking at the CAC (Cricket Advisory Committee) now after those resignations?
Conflict is still an issue. I have seen the last status report filed by the CoA, they have addressed the conflict issue. I don't know when it will be heard and when it will be solved. We have to create the CAC because they will appoint a lot of selectors and other members which are important parts of Indian cricket. So we will do that and we will make sure that they don't have any conflicts of interest.
What do you think of Clause 38 (the conflict of interest clause)?
Conflict? That has to change boss. It's already done by the CoA. The administrators who vacated office today have already put it in the Supreme Court, so we'll see how far it gets modified.
Kumar Sangakkara said you're a fan of having cricket at the Olympics. Will you be looking to have it a part of the 2028 Olympics?
That's a decision that has to be taken collectively. It's also got to do with the Indian Olympic Association.
Are you confident of the Bangladesh tour happening?
I hope so because two days before I spoke to the honourable prime minister of Bangladesh and she has agreed to come and visit the Test match on November 22. When the the honourable prime minister has given the consent, I don't see the national team not turning up. It's their decision, it's their internal matter where I don't think we have any say or we should have any say.
Differently-abled cricketers are also part of the BCCI now, how do you plan to take it ahead because it's not an organised space right now?
Yes, we'll try and organise it. It's a part of the constitution. Just like women's cricket has got organised over the years, I'm sure this will also get organised with time. We'll speak to the general manager of cricket operations and see how it has been so far and try and see how we can do it better.