Sourav Ganguly will go down in history as one of the finest captains of the Indian cricket team. He took over just after the match-fixing scandal in February 2000 when cricket was at its lowest ebb and through sheer force of personality, he got India to love cricket again.
India, under Ganguly, learned not only to compete against the best but also to not take things lying done. The new Indian team members were aggressive, they were in your face, and they were winners.
A new generation of cricket fans were inspired by Ganguly and his team and now, as BCCI president, there is a hope, that he will restore the administrative setup in Indian cricket to one that commands the respect of the public.
Former India opener Virender Sehwag was one of the cricketers who benefitted greatly from Ganguly’s stint as captain and he now feels Indian cricket might get a huge push forward with him at the helm at BCCI.
“It was really heartening to hear that Ganguly wants to start from home,” said Sehwag in an interview to The Indian Express. “One of his opening statements was about improving India’s domestic cricket. He is the best man to do the job. Ganguly knows the problems at the grassroots. When he was dropped from the Indian team, he spent a lot of time travelling around the country. I still remember that when he returned to the Indian team, he used to talk about what was lacking in the domestic circuit.”
Ganguly had a happy knack of backing the right players. But it isn’t enough to just back the players. Sometimes, the captain also needs to show them the way forward. According to Sehwag, that is what made the BCCI president special.
“He gave a player the kind of confidence that makes him forget that he has actually flopped in the last eight to 10 innings,” said Sehwag. “By some strange miracle, the player would think that he was actually performing well. And with that confidence, he would give his 100 percent all the time and win matches. That I think was Dada’s biggest strength as a leader.”
Some also argue that Ganguly really didn’t need to captain the side much. His side was filled with veterans and they all pretty knew what to do at any given time. But as skipper, Ganguly, found a way to get them all on the same page. A quality that will hold him in great stead as BCCI president too.
Sehwag added: “Dada was a very sharp and instinctive captain. He liked to involve everyone in decision-making. A lot of times, he used to listen to everyone but do what he thought was right. He would ask the senior players – me, Harbhajan [Singh], Zaheer [Khan] – about the opposition and also the conditions. Once we had given our inputs, he would have six to seven views. After that, he would either follow one view or come up with his own view that was different from everyone, which he thought was good for him. This, I think, is a great leadership approach.”
Ganguly clearly possesses many qualities that make him a great leader but will his ideas work just as well in the boardroom as they did on the cricket field? For now, there is a feeling of great optimism. It remains to be seen whether it will last.