Conflict-of-interest rule has to be 'practical' - Sourav Ganguly

The current application of the rule, he says, would make it very difficult for any former India player to take up a new role

Conflict of interest: Are VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly guilty?

Conflict of interest: Are VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly guilty?  •  Getty Images

Former India captain Sourav Ganguly does not agree with the existing conflict-of-interest rule within the BCCI constitution, which supports the one-man-one-post concept. Ganguly, who was found to be breaching the rule recently, said the BCCI had to make the conflict rule more "practical" and allow people to perform multiple roles.
Ganguly has been a strong opponent of the conflict rule ever since he and his former team-mates Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman were accused of being in conflict. All three were part of the inaugural Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) set up by the BCCI to make hig-profile cricketing appointments including that of India head coach.
Ganguly, who is president of the Cricket Association of Bengal, is also on the coaching staff of the IPL team Delhi Capitals, and has also been doing media work as a commentator and columnist. Laxman writes columns in newspapers and is also a commentator in addition to being a mentor at Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The Committee of Administrators (CoA) asked the BCCI's ombudsman, Justice (retired) DK Jain to adjudicate. Tendulkar withdrew himself from all the BCCI committees even before the final judgement was released. Eventually Justice Jain found merit in the allegation and confirmed that under the BCCI constitution both Ganguly and Laxman were in breach of the conflict rule since they were performing multiple roles.
"I wouldn't say an exception be made to the rule [for celebrated former players such as himself, Tendulkar and Laxman, but] the rule has to be practical," Ganguly said on Friday, during an event in Mumbai.
If the rule remains in its current form, every former India player would find it impossible to take up a new role, Ganguly said. He took the example of Rahul Dravid, whose possible conflict of interest has been put in the spotlight by Sanjeev Gupta, a life member of the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association, the same person who pulled up Laxman and Tendulkar.
Recently Dravid took charge as head of cricket at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. Gupta has said this will put Dravid in a conflict of interest since he is also employed by India Cements, which is owned by the former BCCI president N Srinivasan. Justice Jain is yet to pronounce his findings in the Dravid case, even though the CoA has given him its view, which is that he is not in conflict since he has frozen his employment with India Cements.
"And what is conflict of interest?" Ganguly asked. "Today Rahul Dravid is appointed NCA head and there are issues about his conflict of interest of his job with India Cements. So you've 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 and these jobs remain with you. So it has got to be practically solved - even when you do commentary or coaching, I don't see it as a conflict of interest. "
Ganguly also took the examples of former players from other countries performing multiple roles, such as the former Australia captain Ricky Ponting, who is head coach of Delhi Capitals. "Look at Ricky Ponting. He coaches Australia (Ponting is a consultant with Cricket Australia), he commentates, he is commentating in the Ashes now, and in the month of April next year he will be with Delhi Capitals.
"I really don't consider this as a conflict of interest; because these are all skill-based. You don't decide whether you commentate or whether you coach or you are part of a franchise, because of your skill you get picked by people, and I don't think it can be a conflict. It has to be bit more precise otherwise everything is going to be conflict."
Ganguly pointed out that the conflict issue had to be taken seriously, otherwise every appointment would be questioned. He provided the example of Vikram Rathour, the former India opener who is set to become India's batting coach from September. Rathour, who was part of the previous national selection panel, has been facing conflict allegations since he is a relative of the former India offspinner Aashish Kapoor, who is the chairman of the junior men's selection committee.
Ganguly said it was "ridiculous" to call Rathour's case one of conflict. "I was reading in the newspaper that there is issue of Vikram now with conflict with Aashish Kapoor being a junior selector. I find it ridiculous. If somebody else is a junior selector and somebody else is batting coach, how does it influence and how it is conflict? So these things need to be a lot clearer. I am firm believer that skills have to be kept separate because you cannot influence skills, it's about one's judgement of who's better and who is not better."
Speaking at an event in Delhi on Wednesday, former India opener Virender Sehwag had also weighed in on the conflict-of-interest issue.
"I understand that if I am a selector, and I have a cricket academy, then I might pick boys from my academy," Sehwag said. "But as a coach, I don't understand how will I be in conflict of interest if I have a cricket academy. Or if I am part of any association, then I cannot become a selector."