After almost two decades, Sourav Ganguly is back to familiar territory. A land relatively unknown but a challenge already passed with flying colours. Ganguly is back at the helm of Indian cricket but this time off the field.
In 2000, Ganguly took over the reins of the Indian cricket team. A team marred with the match-fixing controversy, underperforming and going south. 19 years later, he has been entrusted with the same job but the difference is, this time, he has far larger consequences to deal with and muddy waters to tread on.
Ganguly's time as a skipper changed the face of Indian cricket and much like that, the expectation around him is to change the look of the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) after two underwhelming years of administration.
During his stint as the captain, Ganguly was marked for his aggressive nature and never say die attitude. Under him, as former and even current players would attest, the outlook of the world towards Indian cricket changed. India were no longer the team to be walked over but a side with fierce competitiveness and hunger for victory home and away. And, this is exactly what the new era of Indian cricket with Ganguly and Virat Kohli is expected to be: full of fire.
Ganguly's numbers as captain might have been overshadowed by both Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli but the foundation of success was laid by him and what followed was the result of a solid base created by the former skipper, who never backed down from a challenge. Much like the base on field, Ganguly's job in the next 10 months is to lay a foundation, a base to build upon and take care of what looks like a sinking ship from the outside.
But, will it be as easy? No! But, if his work as the head of Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) is anything to go by, Indian cricket should be in safe hands for the foreseeable future.
Ganguly took over CAB in 2015 after the then president Jagmohan Dalmiya, who was elected unopposed, passed away. Four years later, Ganguly was elected once again with no opposition whatsoever till 2020 before entering the mandatory 'cooling-off' period for holding office for more than six years.
Under Ganguly, administration in CAB improved leaps and bounds. Shrewd decisions, decisive and a man with a plan. Ganguly echoed his playing days off the field as well.
His first action was to make sure games are not abandoned due to rain. Eden Gardens became the first Indian stadium to import covers from England and cover the whole ground to prevent accumulation of water on the ground. Then came the improvement of the drainage system. Games which were washed out due to little rain in Kolkata, are now starting within 30 minutes after rain stops. Considering the soil at the Eden Gardens, tremendous work was done to make things work. Eden Gardens still remains the only stadium in India to completely cover the ground during inclement weather.
During his watch, the pitch in Kolkata came back to life. Normally a dust bowl and slow, greenery returned and on occasions, the ball would move more than a gloomy day at Lord's. Ultra-modern tendon rolling machines were brought in to take care of uneven bounce as well.
The stadium was restructured and suddenly an age-old Eden Gardens came back to life again.
Ganguly also sanctioned a new stadium near the iconic Eden Gardens. A small capacity place to hold first-class matches but mostly with world-class facilities for players to train and practice.
His stint at the helm of CAB has been more than a success story.
However, handling BCCI is a different challenge altogether. Media, scrutiny and dealing with the International Cricket Council (ICC) will have his plate full but he has made his intentions clear just like he used to when a spinner would come on to bowl: step out and smash straight over the bowler's head for a six.
His priorities remain making the base strong and doing what's best for business.
"For me, my biggest focus will be first-class cricket," Ganguly revealed. "I have been very vocal about looking after the first-class players, especially the time they invest. First-class cricket is the base, the strength.
"I have written so many times in the last few years that the remunerations need to increase, and increase manifold. So that's going to be priority to set the first-class cricket in order. Look at cricket structure, look how governance happens and see smooth functioning happens with no issues," Ganguly announced loud and clear, also hinting at the current CoA's incapability to address the finest of issues for the growth of cricket.
But, he was not done yet. How could he let business be unfair?
"We have not received money that we deserve from the ICC in the last three-four years. We generate 70-75 per cent in revenues. That's one of the agenda, surely," Ganguly went on to add.
Being fair, bold, persistent and resolute are things fans and people around the world have identified with Ganguly - the cricketer and in the times of turmoil, if there's anyone, who can be blend in like a fish to water, it's Sourav Chandidas Ganguly.