Ashok Malhotra, the former India batsman and selector, has recounted the story of how Sourav Ganugly was once disqualified as India vice-captain after a BCCI president intervened.
Malhotra, now the president of the Indian Cricketers’ Association (ICA), was a selector in the Nineties when Ganguly’s name came up for discussion as they considered a new vice-captain.
The Indian coach at the time, according to Malhotra, wasn’t too keen on Ganguly, with a complaint being “he drinks too much coke”, but Malhotra said he really pushed the case of the Kolkata batsman.
“If I remember correctly, picking Sourav Ganguly as a vice-captain was a tougher job [than picking him as captain],” he told Sportskeeda on Facebook Live. “I remember we picked him in Calcutta [now Kolkata] and the coach had some things to say – drinks too much coke, takes singles but not twos etc.
“In the bargain, I said having a Thumbs Up does not disqualify him as a vice-captain. And then we had quite a big discussion, [and] 3-2 was voted in favour of Sourav as vice-captain.”
However, in what Malhotra says was an unprecedented event, the BCCI president of the time intervened to ensure Ganguly wasn’t made vice-captain. “But then, I won’t name the president, but he walked into the selection, which has never ever happened in the history of the BCCI,” said Malhotra. “And he and the chairman told us, ‘Gentlemen, let’s do some rethinking.’
A young Sourav Ganguly, after scoring his maiden Test hundred on debut at Lord’s, #OnThisDay in 1996.
— Wisden India (@WisdenIndia) June 22, 2020
“Two of us still stuck to our guns, but one selector said, ‘No, the President has said it, so I will go with him.’ So we didn’t make him vice-captain then. But later on, we managed to [make him captain].”
Ganguly, however, would go on to become one of India’s greatest captains, after his appointment towards the turn of the century after Sachin Tendulkar stepped down, making India a legitimate force in international cricket.
“I know today he’s a legendary captain, but a little bit of effort was there to make him captain, and even vice-captain,” Malhotra said. “None of us knew Sourav Ganguly would become the captain, because Sachin was the captain then. But once he resigned, we had to convince everyone to make him captain, because Anil Kumble and Ajay Jadeja were in line. I had to work overtime.
“None of us knew he would turn out to be one of the greatest captains India has ever seen. None of us knew. He was always very focussed, always he used to get along well with his teammates, and was always very inquisitive about all the things happening around the ground. He was a top-class player.”