When it comes to Indian cricket, dramas never cease. How often has that adage been used and yet not gotten obsolete? Not surprisingly at a time when India has hit a rough spot on its overseas junket, the skeletons continue to spill out of the closet, the Saha saga being just one of them. Rohit Sharma might be the new Indian captain across all formats. But who is the real kingmaker who is taking guard when it comes to the game?

Ever since it became apparent that the days of Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli as the dressing room honchos were numbered, the writing was pretty much on the wall that Rohit Sharma was the preferred option to take over from Kohli.

The only hitch?

The BCCI wanted to do it on their own terms. But Kohli would not have it. Having felt slighted to have been deposed from the post of the one day captaincy in a manner that was crude and disrespectful – a bland one line public statement from the selection committee, Kohli too knew his time as the Test captain was at its end when he decided to bring Ganguly into the picture, disagreeing openly with the BCCI chairman before the tour of South Africa about his being persuaded to stay on as captain.

While BCCI wanted time to make their move, Kohli was determined not to be given the boot – at least in public perception - and chose his exit timing, the hints and nudges behind the scenes marking an unsavoury tour of South Africa for him.

The question that few asked in the mayhem of who was right, who was wrong was: could not the BCCI have handled the situation better? What is the prerogative of the selection panel seemed to have turned into an all out war between the egos of certain top board officials and prominent players. The BCCI could have made this a lot less painful on themselves and on the players by handling matters swiftly and discreetly.

And it seems lessons are not learnt as Rohit Sharma now seems more like a chauffeur than the skipper in the driver’s seat as other players are taking up cudgels against the board both, publicly and in private. What was the original plan of split captaincy has turned into an unceremonious crowning of Sharma as the all format captain in a tangled web that saw the brief split captaincy never pan out as neither Kohli or Sharma played under each other since the captaincy saga was blown up in the public.

But the power battle at the top of the administrative helm has overshadowed even this leadership transition.

During his playing days, one of the minor weaknesses in Sourav Ganguly’s otherwise prolific batting repertoire was his inability to duck against the short ball. Peppered by fast bowlers overseas on fast paced, bouncy pitches, the former Indian skipper had a rare chink in his talented armoury, evident to tall. But he plays the game as an administrator rather differently, ducking and weaving. Still not entirely exonerating himself in the process publicly.

Amongst the players dropped from the stunning reversal of fortunes in South Africa where India lost both remaining Tests after winning the first Test in Centurion for the first time, are Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ishant Sharma.

After the prolonged public conjecture following Virat Kohli’s disagreement with the current BCCI chief about what was communicated to him with regard to India’s captaincy, Wriddhiman Saha, who also incidentally hails from Bengal, chose to make public his differences with Ganguly. While there are rumours that the journalist who harassed Saha with messages such as “You didn’t take my call. I don’t take insults kindly” might have close links with someone in the BCCI, Saha’s airing of Ganguly’s conversation is interesting as it is insightful.

Upon being dropped from the squad for the home series against Sri Lanka, the thirty-seven year wicketkeeper, who has represented India in forty Tests, revealed that Ganguly had congratulated him after his last notable performance against New Zealand, even assuring his Bengali compatriot that he would not have to worry about his place in the team while Ganguly was still at the helm in the BCCI.

Even at first glance, if this can be verified – Saha claims it was a message sent to him by Ganguly, it is a strange one.

Much like the case with Virat Kohli and the captaincy saga, the onus is on the chairman of selectors and the selection panel to decide on the fate and future of a particular player and not the job of the BCCI boss. If this is indeed the case, Saha has every right to be miffed, performances notwithstanding. More importantly, it is also disturbing though not uncommon for Indian cricket.

How much interference will Rahul Dravid tolerate if indeed that is the case which Ganguly of course denies in the media? Will the former contemporaries in the Indian team operate on compromised terms – something Dravid is not known to do – or will it mean there will be rift sometime in the future between the two legends of the game when the selection of a particular player becomes a bone of contention?

The dropping of Ishant Sharma has been spoken about even less. The thirty-three year old fast bowler too might not play a Test in 2022 but unlike Rahane and Pujara, might still find light at the end of the tunnel.

To be fair, Ishant looked incisive against New Zealand during the ICC World Test championship and perhaps is in need of better man management skills so he does not wear down easily to make him a suspect prospect when it comes to regular selection. Much on those lines could be said for some of the other cricketers who have suffered a chequered time with the national team, either with shaky performances, uncertainty of place anxiety and even perhaps, not enjoying the favour of the team management in the dressing room.

The bubble of comfort that the Indian cricket think tank in the dressing room which the Virat Kohli-Ravi Shastri captain-coach partnership enjoyed and the overseas results that helped to maintain the status has now burst. And it has created not only a transition period but one filled with potholes and painful, back breaking bumps along the way.

On the other hand, nothing like a series against the West Indies and Sri Lanka to cushion some of the blows and score easy wins. And count on the Indian Premier League to create some distance.

Saha also revealed that Rahul Dravid, the current Indian coach who took over from Shastri, had pulled Saha aside in South Africa and told him that Indian cricket was looking beyond him and that he should look at retirement. Would that not be how the BCCI could have handled the whole situation with Virat Kohli instead of both sides airing dirty laundry and the truth smudged somewhere between the dirty linen?

Saha’s grievance perhaps comes from the fact that while misplaced assurance came from Ganguly, the message of curtains being brought down is being delivered through another. Either he is implying that Dravid is building his own team, which he has every right as the new coach in charge of a team in transition, or that Ganguly has betrayed his own spoken, promised word.

While some are of the contention that what happens in the dressing room should remain in the dressing room, Saha perhaps feels that assurances – which is not how business should ideally be conducted between board officials and players, particularly at the highest level– have been tossed aside at whim. With nothing to lose, he chose to air what goes on behind closed doors.

Saha is normally so quiet even behind the stumps that it might not be easy to spot him when he takes the field for team India. That the uncharacteristically quiet wicketkeeper-batsman has spoken out in such fashion on the same day that he also revealed threats from a journalist which ironically is being investigated by the BCCI, speaks to something out of the ordinary.

Ajinkya Rahane might have run out of runs to make his case. But he was the understated hero of India’s tour down under when after India lost the first Test in Adelaide while Kohli was still captaining the team before his paternity leave, Rahane took the reins and saw India through to an unprecedented overseas Test series victory down under.

That even the sublime Rahane has spoken out recently about misgivings at his end, when he claimed that credit for some of his decisions down under was misappropriated by others (without taking specific names), one has to assume that the waters underneath the deceptively still surface were churning for some time.

Little has changed in the BCCI, reform or no reform. There is still ducking and weaving, whether it is behind closed doors, in private messages or through leaked stories to the press.

It is not just a question of players overstaying past their expiry dates. The men at the helm of the administration in the BCCI have a lot to answer for, having brought dubious reputation back to the table in the whole brouhaha with the previous captain and coach regime. Both Ganguly and Jay Shah have already overstayed their terms by reform mandates by the Justice Lodha Committee, having served six years across their respective state boards and the BCCI. With appeals in the Supreme Court, both men are standing their ground. How can they expect the players to act any different, rightfully indignant or not?