Till last Saturday nobody even had the slightest of hint that former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly had any interest in heading the apex cricket body in the country.
But the moment he threw his hat in the ring for the coveted post, it was only a matter of time that he rallied support in his favour to emerge as the unanimous choice.
Delhi cricket chief Rajat Sharma, who was one of the frontrunners, along with Karnataka cricket strongman Brijesh Patel, had to make way for Sourav.
Once Ganguly made up his mind to be at the helm of cricket affairs in the country, the Cricket Association of Bengal President hardly wasted anytime. The former captain flew down to the capital and had a series of meetings with a highly influential Union minister, who was calling the shots.
In fact, in the end it was the backing and support from another minister and former BCCI chief Anurag Thakur, which sealed the deal for Ganguly.
This isn’t the first time that Ganguly has managed to stay close to those with power and influence; and this is something that has benefited him directly.
During his playing days, his proximity to the then BCCI powerhouse Jagmohan Dalmiya was a known affair. In 1996, Dalmiya was credited for Ganguly’s surprise recall after four years to the Indian squad for the England tour. All sorts of aspersions were cast on the Bengal cricketer for being close to Dalmiya, the then BCCI secretary.
In fact, many of his critics believe that it was solely due to the support of Dalmiya that Ganguly managed to hold on to his captaincy at the fag end of the tenure despite poor form with the bat and poor captaining.
It was no coincidence that Ganguly’s troubled times as a leader almost coincided with the end of the powerful Dalmiya era.
In 2004-05, while Dalmiya battled Sharad Pawar and Co, Ganguly was sacked as the captain and dropped from the side.
At the same time, the relation between the duo took a turn for the worse. Ganguly accused Dalmiya of leaking an email sent by then Team India Coach Greg Chappel to then BCCI President Ranbir Singh Mahendra where Chappell complained to Mahendra about Ganguly’s form and temperament.
Later in 2006, it was his close relationship with then West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya that saw Ganguly lobbying against his long-time mentor Dalmiya for the presidential election of the Cricket Association of Bengal.
Ganguly had extended support to Dalmiya’s rival at the time, former Kolkata Police chief Prasun Mukherjee.
Dalmiya went on to win the election, and for the next couple of years, their relationship only worsened.
In 2014, when Sourav decided to enter cricket admiration, he was already part of many technical committees of the BCCI.
His first foray into the realm of cricket administration was when he was was part of the CAB’s working committee and was elected joint secretary in 2014.
During this time Dalmiya continued to head the CAB. This meant the two had to work in tandem; and the pair seemed to have a healthy working relationship.
Meanwhile, on the political front, his proximity to new West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee was also making headlines.
So, it wasn’t a surprise that after Dalmiya’s death in 2015, it was Banerjee who was instrumental in elevating Ganguly to the post of president in the CAB. In a weird turn of events, the CM announced Ganguly’s name as the new Bengal cricket chief, superseding many seniors in the CAB and even some senior Trinamool leaders who were in the reckoning.
At the time, Ganguly had just a year of experience in cricket administration, but was once again reaping the benefit of being at the right place at the right time with the right person.
During his time as the CAB president, Ganguly played a big role when BJP leader Anurag Thakur was elected as BCCI secretary defeating N Srinivasan's choice Sanjay Patel – by one vote at an AGM in Chennai.
This was most probably Ganguly’s first tryst with a member of the BJP. Later, the party even offered him an election ticket, which he refused.
However, four years down the line, that one favour to Thakur, a leader from the ruling party, has made a world of difference for Sourav Ganguly.
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