South Africa’s Director of Cricket and former captain Graeme Smith on Thursday made a strong call for India’s Sourav Ganguly to be the next chairman of the International Cricket Council.

Smith said he believed Ganguly, a fellow former Test captain and current Board of Control for Cricket in India president, was the right person to lead the game at a time of crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is very important to have the right person as head of the ICC,” said Smith. “Post-Covid-19, cricket will need strong leadership and it is time for someone close to the modern game with leadership credentials to get into the position.”

Speaking in a tele-conference, Smith made his call for Ganguly’s appointment after Cricket South Africa interim chief director Jacques Faul said plans for South Africa to host a three-match Twenty20 series against India in late August remained on track, although it would require approval from both governments in view of the pandemic.

“The president of the ICC now becomes a very key position in terms of how the game can progress and progress at the right level. It would be great to see a cricket man like Ganguly to get into the role of the ICC president. That will be good for the game. He understands the game, he has played at the highest level and he is respected,” Smith was quoted as saying by Sportstar in an online conference with journalists.

“He has the credibility, leadership and can take the game forward. The elections are coming, there are, of course, few other names in the hat, but in my opinion, someone with modern [perception] for the game should be the candidate,” the former opening batsman said.

“I have dealt with Sourav in the past and it will be good for the game,” Smith said.

Shashank Manohar, the current chairman of ICC, also from India, said last December that he would not seek re-election when his term expires at the end of May.

Faul also said that he welcomed Smith’s call for Ganguly to head the ICC, but cautioned that it was not yet official policy endorsed by the CSA board.

Former England captain David Gower had also backed Ganguly’s potential appointment as the chief of the game’s governing body.

He had said: “One thing I have learnt over the years is that if you are going to run BCCI, you need to be many, many things. Having a reputation like he [Ganguly] has is a very good start, but you need to be a very deft politician. You need to have control of a million different things.”

Cricket restart?

Speaking about India’s possible visit in August, Dr Shuaib Manjra, CSA’s chief medical officer, said a T20 series would be an ideal opportunity to create what he described as a spectator-free “bio bubble” in which the health of players and officials was paramount.

He acknowledged that under current conditions, a 14-day quarantine period, both before and after a tour, would be necessary for players.

Smith said a planned South African tour of the West Indies, scheduled to start in July, was likely to be delayed, depending on the finalisation of plans for the West Indies to tour England. He said it was possible that matches could be played at neutral venues.

“Nothing is cast in stone at the moment,” he added.

With AFP Inputs