The contrast in the personalities of the outgoing president of the BCCI, Sourav Ganguly and the incoming candidate in the former cricketer, Roger Michael Humphrey Binny, could not have been starker. The soft-spoken Binny can be expected to fulfil the popular expectation that former players would make empathetic administrators as they have the interest of the game foremost in their hearts.
Great things may have been expected of Ganguly as he was a model captain who backed his men while taking out regional biases out of Indian cricket. He finds himself out of favour now for doing a few things that were not quite “cricket”, a veritable synonym for fair play. His interventions in the captaincy imbroglio regarding Virat Kohli left a bad taste in the mouth. Worse, it undermined the confidence of the star player who became a pale shadow of himself after being humiliated as he kept stepping down as captain from one format of the game after the other.
Ganguly was restoring an old tradition of Test cricketers graduating into cricket admin after the Maharajkumar of Vizianagaram and then Shivlal Yadav, who became an interim BCCI president for technical reasons when the Supreme Court chose to intervene. But he did not set the highest standards when pursuing his personal commercial interests in endorsements. Not only did he sign on as ambassador for brands that were competitors of the BCCI’s official sponsors but also promoted a betting company as brand ambassador.
It might appear that the ruling party at the Centre is well represented in the BCCI as a minister’s son is in the thick of things while the kin of a former president is also a prominent office-bearer. But then, the BCCI, which was financially independent of governments, had, however, always leant on official patronage for various clearances and hence had many CMs and ministers serving as its office bearers.
Its most modern avatar as an admin powerhouse in world cricket and recipient of billions of dollars in TV and digital rights revenues, lends BCCI’s honorary posts greater lustre. Binny gets a top post without hankering for it and it is on the cards that he will prove a sane voice in matters to do with taking Indian cricket forward. Once the highest wicket taker in the 1983 World Cup for Kapil’s Devils, he has the credentials to serve the game, with a new hat on.