Sourav Ganguly writes to BCCI and says reports of sexual harassment allegations against CEO Rahul Johri show the board in poor light.
Bengaluru: Only days ago, several state associations of the Board of Control for Cricket in India wrote to the top brass of the BCCI and the Committee of Administrators expressing their dismay at how the sexual harassment allegations against CEO Rahul Johri had been handled.
While the CoA headed by Vinod Rai put out a statement explaining the differences in the two-member committee on how the issue ought to be handled, they all but ignored the states, none of whom have received a reply to their missives.
Now comes a letter that is less likely to go unacknowledged.
Sourav Ganguly, one of India’s most successful captains, a cricketer who played 113 Tests and 311 One-Day Internationals, Tuesday wrote a scathing letter to the BCCI, in his capacity as Cricket Association of Bengal president, and as a former cricketer.
A copy of the communication was accessed by ThePrint and its contents should sound alarm bells in the corridors of power in Indian cricket.
“I write this mail to you all with the deep sense of fear as to where Indian cricket administration is going. Having played the game for a long period of time, where our lives were ruled by winning and losing, and the image of Indian cricket was of paramount importance to us. We wake up looking at how our cricket is faring even now,” Ganguly wrote.
“But with deep sense of worry, (I use the word worry) I beg to state that the way things have gone in the last couple of years, the authority of Indian cricket to the world and the love and belief of millions of fans is on the way down.”
Ganguly then gets into specifics, referring to Johri, against whom serious allegations of sexual misconduct have been levelled, with an inquiry under way into the matter. But Ganguly did not stop there.
“I don’t know how far it’s true, but the recent reports of harassment has really made the BCCI look very poorly…more so the way it has been handled. The committee of CoA from four has come down to two and now the two seem to be divided (sic),” Ganguly wrote.
Vinod Rai, the chairman of the two-person committee had constituted a panel to look into the allegations against Johri while Diana Edulji, the former India cricketer, was in favour of Johri either resigning or being asked to go.
Criticises rule changes
Ganguly has also raised another issue he had flagged in the past as well – changing the rules of eligibility to play for a state, midway through the season, something that had never happened before.
“Cricketing rules are changed in the middle of a season, which has never been heard off…decisions made in committees are turned around with complete disrespect,” Ganguly wrote.
The former India captain also took the opportunity to look back at his time in the Cricket Advisory Committee, tasked with nominating a coach for the Indian team.
It was an acrimonious affair after Anil Kumble left the post and was replaced by Ravi Shastri, clearly a favourite of the captain, Virat Kohli.
“My experience in the matter of coach selection was appalling (the less said the better)…One of my friends who is involved in matters relating to functioning of board asked me who should they go to…had no answer…I had to ask who should I invite for an international game from a particular association as I did not know what was going on.”
Ganguly slammed those currently running the show, warning that they were putting Indian cricket at serious risk.
“Indian cricket with its massive following has been built over the years of hard work from superb administrators and greatest of cricketers who have managed to bring thousands of fans to the ground,” Ganguly wrote. “I, at the present moment, think it’s in danger. I hope people are listening.”
Whether the CoA, especially Rai, is listening or not, is unclear.
But you can be sure that the Indian cricket public hear Ganguly’s words loud and clear. The ball is now in Rai’s court. Two years ago, he had nothing to do with the most popular sport in the country. Now that he is in charge, will he heed the words of one of India’s favourite cricketing sons, or turn a blind eye as he has when others have raised concerns?
Anand Vasu is a freelance journalist. He tweets @anandvasu