BCCI president Sourav Ganguly has assured the Indian team management led by captain Virat Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri that his board will make "life easy" and not "difficult" for them but pointed out that performance would be the ultimate yardstick. Ganguly also said he was waiting to have a word with MS Dhoni on his future, pointing out "champions don't finish quickly."
The 47-year old former India captain was speaking after his formal election as BCCI president, marking the end of the 33-month tenure of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA). Others elected today were Jay Shah (secretary), Arun Singh Dhumal (treasurer), Jayesh George (joint secretary) and Mahim Verma (vice-president).
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Ganguly was all praise for Kohli who he said had taken Indian cricket to a "different level" since he took over as captain in 2015. India are currently the No. 1 Test team and are perched comfortably atop the World Test Championship table. In ODIs, they are behind England and in T20Is they are ranked fourth.
In light of that success, Kohli and Shastri became two of the most powerful people in Indian cricket. Ganguly is scheduled to them on Thursday at the BCCI offices where the teams to play the home series against Bangladesh would be picked.
"Champions don't finish very quickly. I don't know what's in his mind, what he thinks about his career. When you sit down and make not of what he has done, you still say wow" Ganguly on Dhoni
"I really don't know what had transpired with the CoA [the previous regime] and Virat and Ravi," Ganguly said in his first media briefing as BCCI president in Mumbai. "But the new body has taken over, the new office bearers have taken over, 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."
Ganguly made it clear that Kohli was the "most important" person in Indian cricket at the moment. "We will be there to support him. We will there to listen to him because I have been a captain myself and I understand 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."
On Tuesday, after India's 3-0 Test series win over South Africa, Kohli felt Test cricket should be hosted by a maximum of five key venues, a system which is followed in England and Australia. Kohli said it helped bring in better crowds and add to the Test-match culture in those countries and it might be something for the BCCI to look into.
The issue had come up in light of poor crowds in two of the three Tests (Pune and Ranchi) and there had already been a precedent - Dhoni had made a similar suggestion in 2010. Ganguly was open a discussion around it, saying "in terms of the Test venues, we have a lot of space, lot of venues. So we will have to sit with him [Kohli] and see what he wants and take it forward."
With a selection meeting scheduled for Thursday, the question on Dhoni's future came up once again. The 38-year old hasn't played for India since the end of the World Cup in July and it doesn't seem likely that he will be back to play the series against Bangladesh. "It is unlikely Dhoni would be picked for the Bangladesh series which comprises three T20Is and two Tests considering he has not played any cricket after the World Cup."
When asked if he had reached out to Dhoni, Ganguly said, "I have not spoken to him yet. Hopefully we will meet soon and have a word with one of the greats in Indian cricket."
Ganguly was not shy about recalling instances from his own career - which began in 1992 and ended in 2008 -when asked about how long Dhoni could continue playing for India.
"It depends on him," Ganguly said. "I've always said that even when I was left out [in 2005] and when the entire world said he'll never make it I believed in myself and came back [in 2007] and played for four years [domestic cricket included]. You know champions don't finish very quickly. I don't know what's on his mind, what he thinks about his career. So we will deal with that. He is one of the greats of the game. India is very proud to have MS Dhoni. When you sit down and make note of what he has done, you still say "wow"."
Ganguly also brushed aside the question of whether India needed to look at the split captaincy. "It is the job of the selectors (to decide that)," he said before adding, "India is winning, so the question is not necessary at the moment. India is the best team in the world right now so that question is not necessary right now."