Off The Field

Kumar Sangakkara backs Sourav Ganguly to become new ICC chairman

Written by Sumit Seth

After former South Africa captain and the current Director of Cricket of Cricket South Africa (CSA) Graeme Smith, Sri Lanka legend Kumar Sangakkara has also backed Sourav Ganguly to become the next chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC). Ganguly’s name has been doing rounds for the top post ever since Shashank Manohar stepped down recently after two terms as the chairman of the international board.

Ganguly has not yet decided to throw his name into the mix to become the next ICC chairman but the BCCI president is expected to win comfortably if he decides to be in contention. His candidature will also depend on whether the Supreme Court will relax the cooling-off norms after his two successive terms to allow him to continue as the BCCI president. The Indian cricket board will keep their options open in the ICC elections.

Sangakkara hailed Ganguly for his astute cricketing brain and said the former India captain can be the right person to take international cricket forward as he understands the game and can do justice to the ‘international mindset’ required to hold the top spot. Sangakkara also admitted that he is a huge fan of Ganguly and feels the current BCCI president has best interests for the game in his heart.

“I think Sourav definitely can make that change. Quite a big fan of Dada not just because of his stature as a cricketer but I think he has a very astute cricket brain. He has the best interests of the game at heart and that should not change just because you are the BCCI president or the ECB or SLC or any other cricket board when you are at the ICC,” Sangakkara was quoted as saying.

“Your mindset should be truly international and not just constrained by partisanship in terms of where I come from — am I Indian, Sri Lankan or Australia or English but really understand ‘yes I am a cricketer and what I am doing is what is best for all cricketing countries,” the Sri Lanka legend added.

Sangakkara further said that Ganguly has been doing great work in administration and coaching even before he became the BCCI president. He also suggested that the former India captain enjoys a great relationship with several present and former players which make him an ideal candidate for the ICC chairman post.

“Most importantly, the foundation of this game is children, fans and spectators around the world. I think Sourav can do that very, very well. I have seen his work even before he took over as the BCCI president, even before administration and coaching, and how he has built relationships with players around the world, his standing in the MCC cricket committee. I have no doubt that Sourav will be a very, very suitable candidate to do just that,” Kumar Sangakkara asserted.

It’s felt that Ganguly, now 47 years of age, will have enough time left at his disposal to pursue the ICC position in future after completing his tenure with the BCCI. However, there is a big ‘if’ in his plans to serve the BCCI as per his plans as the Supreme Court is yet to schedule a date to take up the appeal of Indian board – tabled quite sometime back – to relax the ‘cooling off’ period of both Ganguly and BCCI secretary Jay Shah. Ganguly’s cooling off period, as mandated by the Justice R.M.Lodha’s recommendations, gets under way after July 31 while Shah’s period has already started from May.

It will be interesting to see if Ganguly is ready for the ICC job if the apex court eventually does not react favourably to the BCCI appeal. The election to the ICC chair is likely to become a completely different ballgame though if he is not in the fray – wherein Graves may have to face a contest.

The ICC, meanwhile, had another board meeting recently to discuss the election process of the chairman and will finalise it by this week. It’s learnt that an effort is on within the ICC to include all 104 member nations as part of the election process of the chairman in future, though it’s not clear when such a regulation can be in place in time for the selection of Manohar’s successor.

During his two terms over four years, Manohar had stonewalled the efforts of consolidation by the ‘Big Three’ (India, England & Australia) at the ICC – at the cost of generating bad blood with the Indian board – which he headed not so long ago. He is expected to play a crucial role again in setting the right backdrop for his successor.

As of now, Imran Khawaja, vice chairman of the ICC and chairman of associate member committee, will officiate once Manohar’s tenure completes on Tuesday and execute the election process.

About the author

Sumit Seth