Former captain Sourav Ganguly was unanimously elected on October 23 2019 as president of India's troubled cricket board. Picture: Punit PARANJPE/AFP
Former captain Sourav Ganguly was unanimously elected on October 23 2019 as president of India's troubled cricket board. Picture: Punit PARANJPE/AFP

Mumbai — Former captain Sourav Ganguly was unanimously elected on Wednesday as president of India’s troubled cricket board, the sport’s most powerful body.

Cricket’s overwhelming  popularity in India has helped the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to become by far the wealthiest of all the sport’s national boards, netting hordes of money from sponsorship and TV deals.

But it has also been embroiled in a series of scandals, including accusations of corruption and match-fixing that tarnished the Indian Premier League (IPL), the country’s lucrative Twenty20 competition.

The only nominee to the post, Ganguly was appointed at a meeting in Mumbai, the board confirmed on Twitter. The 47-year-old’s appointment ends more than two years of a supreme court-appointed committee overseeing the board’s affairs.

Ganguly  vowed to clean up Indian cricket.

“It’s an honour that I have been asked to take this role by the members when it's a new start for the BCCI,” Ganguly, wearing his India captain’s blazer, said in his first address as BCCI chief.

“Things need to be brought back in place, reforms need to done, huge amounts of money to be paid to state associations.

“It’s a challenge and I’ll do it the way I know. The way which I feel is best for BCCI with no compromise on credibility, corruption-free and same-for-all BCCI. That’s the way I led India and that’s the way I will take forward this organisation with whatever time I have.”

Former chief Anurag Thakur and his number two, Ajay Shirke, were axed by the top court in January 2017 over their failure to enact a series of recommended reforms. The order came after judges slapped restrictions on the BCCI’s accounts in 2016 over its failure to implement changes put forward by a panel headed by a former top judge, Rajendra Mal Lodha.

The court has since appointed a top anti-corruption troubleshooter, Vinod Rai, as head of a team to oversee the running of board. He said the transfer of power has been smooth and satisfactory.

“BCCI administration could never have been better than this,” Rai told reporters. “Because you have a president who is one of our most successful captains. Our job was to implement the constitution. We got the election done as per the constitution.”

A corruption and match-fixing scandal in the sixth edition of the IPL in 2013 brought about the downfall of the board’s then president, Narayanaswami Srinivasan, after his son-in-law was accused of betting on matches.

The elevation of Thakur and Shirke had been seen as representing a break with the past. But the board’s reluctance to implement Lodha’s recommendations, which included age limits and term limits on office-bearers, triggered a number of legal battles.

One of the most successful national captains in the sport, Ganguly promised to clean up the mess after he filed his nomination to the post last week. The left-handed opener retired from Test cricket in 2008 having accumulated 7,212 runs including 16 centuries — his first made at Lord’s on debut.

AFP