BCCI president Sourav Ganguly has emerged a front-runner to replace Shashank Manohar as chairman.
Manohar took over as the first independent chairman of the ICC in 2016 and was elected unopposed for a second term in 2018. He has an option of contending for a third and final term, but is set to exit with the end of the ongoing term in July.
In such a situation, with the cricket world fighting COVID-19's aftereffects, it seems like Ganguly is emerging as a potential candidate to replace Manohar when the elections happen in July.
The biggest voice to support Ganguly for the job publicly is Graeme Smith, Cricket South Africa's director of cricket.
"The chairman of the ICC now becomes a very key position going forward in terms of how the game can progress, and progress at the right level," Smith told journalists on Thursday. "It would be great to see a cricket man like Sourav Ganguly get into the chairman role of the ICC.
"Now it's even more important to have someone in a role that can provide leadership to cricket; that understands and can navigate the challenges in the game today. Post Covid-19 and with the things that are going to come our way, we need to have strong leadership and I feel like Sourav Ganguly is best positioned for that at the moment. I know him well. I feel that he has got the credibility and the leadership skills and is someone that can really take the game forward."
Dr Jacques Faul, CSA's acting Chief Executive Officer, echoed Smith's opinion too.
"We have always closely worked with India and it must play a leadership role in the FTP and a responsible one. Our engagements with Sourav has been positive and his willingness to help us. We have checked with the leadership of CSA on if we would support an Indian candidate and and at this stage, we would. From CSA point of view, we don't see problems in supporting an Indian candidate. But, we need to look who are the others nominated," Faul said.
With Smith and Faul's comments creating ripples, Cricket South Africa issued a clarification saying the board would 'respect ICC protocol' and not 'anticipate any candidates'.
"We must respect both the ICC protocol and our own protocol in deciding which candidate to back," commented CSA President and Chairman of the Board, Chris Nenzani. "There have been no candidates nominated as yet and once such nominations have been made the Board of CSA will take its decision in terms of its own protocol and give the chairman the mandate to exercise his vote as an ICC Board Director accordingly.
"We have the highest regard for the opinions of our Director of Cricket, Graeme Smith, who is a well-respected figure in world cricket and has already made an immense contribution in fulfilling his mandate to make our cricket teams world leaders again.
"At the moment we don’t want to anticipate any candidates who may be nominated for this important position to lead the game we all love."
Smith was not the only former cricketer to support Ganguly for the job. Recently, England's David Gower backed the former India captain too.
"If you are going to run BCCI, you need to be many, many things. Having a reputation like he has is a very good start, but you need to be a very deft politician," Gower said ahead of “Q20,” a chat show for fans by GloFans.
"Sourav has the toughest task imaginable in charge of BCCI, but so far I would say the signs are very good. He has listened, given his own opinion and has pulled strings gently," Gower said. "He is a very, very good man and has those political skills. And if you do a good job as BCCI chief in the future, who knows?
"Being head of ICC is an honou, but look at where the power is. BCCI is definitely the bigger job."
Ganguly was elected BCCI president last October. His term ends in July, after which he, and other office bearers, have to go through a three-year cooling off period before being eligible to contest for roles in the BCCI again. The current BCCI administration has asked the Supreme Court to relax the rules pertaining to the cooling-off period, but the court is yet to hear the matter.
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