Sourav Ganguly could be the next Bengal cricket president after the sudden demise of Jagmohan Dalmiya claims sources.
On Monday, when the 75-year-old Dalmiya was being cremated in Kolkata, the only question that did the rounds was who will succeed a man who was synonymous with Bengal cricket. Interestingly, some members of the ruling Trinamool Congress government are sniffing an opportunity to gain the hot seat at Dr B.C. Roy Club House in Eden Gardens
On Monday, when the 75-year-old Dalmiya was being cremated in Kolkata, the only question that did the rounds was who will succeed a man who was synonymous with Bengal cricket. Interestingly, some members of the ruling Trinamool Congress government are sniffing an opportunity to gain the hot seat at Dr B.C. Roy Club House in Eden Gardens.
The biggest complaint against Dalmiya was that he never groomed a successor. So overwhelming was his presence in cricket administration that Bengal never thought of a second man who could hold the reins of one of the richest associations in Indian cricket. This can come to hurt Bengal now.
Clubs and district units comprise Bengal cricket. They have the voting rights to elect office bearers. Dalmiya, except 2007, has been the undisputed king of Bengal cricket administration. He groomed several office-bearers like BCCI vice-president Chitrak Mitra and Gautam Dasgupta, but never a man who could finally replace him.
Unlike the Board of Control for Cricket in India, where there are at least three able personalities who could replace Dalmiya as president, Bengal is struggling to find the right man. Sourav Ganguly seems to be an automatic public choice but the former Indian Test captain’s experience in the administration is negligible and there is opposition as well.
Ganguly is a CAB joint-secretary and in his few months as an office-bearer lived in the shadows of an ailing Dalmiya, who could barely pass on the tricks of the complex trade of cricket politics.
Sources say the charismatic Ganguly is not on the same page with some top CAB office-bearers who have served the association for long. As things stand now, Ganguly will not be an automatic choice to become president
Unlike the BCCI, which has 15 days to call a special general meeting and pick Dalmiya’s successor, CAB has two full months to make a decision. Given Ganguly’s media commitments, will he have time to preside over Bengal cricket?
Sources close to the Prince of Kolkata say the 43-year-old is “quite interested” to succeed Dalmiya but will test the waters in the next few days to see his chances. Cricket administration has run in the Ganguly family. Sourav’s father, the late Chandidas Ganguly, has been association secretary for several years and with Dalmiya ran the golden period of CAB.
But the battle for CAB could turn out to be a bitter political war. At least two key members of the ruling Trinamool Congress government – Arup Biswas and Subrata Mukherjee – are reportedly eyeing their chances. Both represent Kolkata-based cricket clubs, fairly popular in sports circles and have dreams of becoming top-notch administrators.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee could play king-maker. Even if the cricket fraternity dreads the influx of TMC ministers inside the hallowed Eden Gardens, the chief minister will surely play a role.
Mamata ordered full state honours for Dalmiya and personally attended the funeral on Monday. The Kolkata Municipal Corporation is also planning to name a road after Dalmiya. It is unlikely that the chief minister will ignore the all-important chair of CAB. After all, one of her close family members occupies a top position in the Bengal Olympic Association.
This will be the time for CAB’s office bearers to show solidarity and better sense. To unanimously back, Ganguly will be the easiest way out. There is precedence of a former Test captain running a state association fairly well. Anil Kumble was president of Karnataka State Cricket Association and Javagal Srinath was his deputy.
But just like Eden’s wicket, the succession war in Bengal cricket will be a slow turner.