Sourav Ganguly’s Twitter biodata is a disclaimer of sorts. “My official Twitter handle, managed by me and my team,” it says.
So, it’s tough to say who should get credit for the tantalisingly vague, pregnant with possibilities, craftily camouflaged viral tweet that surfaced on his timeline the other day.
Ganguly’s legions of die-hards would never know that the multi-talented former cricketer, besides being an influential India captain, game show host, face of top brands, commentator, Indian Premier League mentor and BCCI president, can also compose a dream teaser tweet that can make the modern-day marketeers go weak in their knees.
The beauty of the tweet wasn’t in what the 90 words said, the admirable trickery was in the hints dropped between the 10 lines of the post.
The timing too was perfect. This week was the traditional lull after the IPL, a quiet Thursday afternoon on a slow news day.
The Ganguly tweet was armed to the teeth to spark speculation, build suspense and create a buzz. And as it later came to light, the most-read, overwhelmingly liked post proved gold dust for those whose pitch he was voicing.
Influencer-generated anticipation is a precious commodity in the cyber market place these days. Brand launchers exploit the inquisitive of fans about their heroes to promote their wares. Celebrities, aware of this, have started to dutifully monetising it.
By announcing on social media that he was starting a new innings, the BCCI president was triggering whispers about him quitting cricket administration. And also, in the backdrop of his recent hobnobbing with top politicians, the assumption that Ganguly was finally taking the plunge in that sphere wasn’t some wild guess either.
By late evening, a casual clarification in Bangla would emerge from Kolkata. Cornered by local reporters, he would be asked: Was this Maharaj’s googly? There would be a smile, a chuckle and, in a soft and innocent tone, he would say that the tweet was about the world launch of an educational app he was endorsing. “Na, it’s a simple tweet, kichu resignation nei (no resignation),” he would say.
It was an answer that posed many more questions.
With smart education major Byju’s sponsoring Team India, wasn’t this another case of conflict of interest? Aren’t heads of powerful institutions supposed to act more responsibly? Shouldn’t they be ending speculations, rather than fuelling them? A social media marketing gimmick for personal brand endorsement – did it suit the BCCI president’s stature? And, should Maharaj be bowling googlies?
Keeping all guessing
On revisiting the tweet, answers to these questions jump out of the page. Read the promo post in isolation.
2022 marks the 30th year since the start of my journey with cricket in 1992. Since then, cricket has given me a lot. Most importantly, it has given me the support of all of you. I want to thank every single person who has been part of the journey, supported me, and helped me reach where I am today. Today, I am planning to start something that I feel will probably help a lot of people. I hope you continue your support as I enter this chapter of my life.
The start of the tweet has a classic set-up for a grand announcement. The years mentioned lend a sense of occasion. Anniversaries, along with occasions of celebration, are also moments to seamlessly move into life’s next stage. After the build-up comes the thanksgiving, another staple of farewell speeches.
No formal goodbyes are complete without the mention of the word ‘journey’. The Ganguly spoof was too clever to miss it. Another box ticked.
The template recommends a sprinkle of ‘gratitude’. Of course, the tweet has covered that too.
“I want to thank every single person who has been part of the journey, supported me, and helped me reach where I am today,” he wrote.
They certainly needed to be thanked since Ganguly’s cricketing journey has been uniquely grand. Rejected from the Indian team as a 20-year-old, he would become the captain responsible for giving Indian cricket an image makeover after the match-fixing era.
In his avatar as an administrator, he would first take the top seat at Eden Gardens. Within years, like an opportunistic goal-scorer, Ganguly, blessed with sublime timing and a knack to be at the right place at the right time, would head the BCCI. Post Lodha reforms, backed by a new constitution that empowered cricketers, Ganguly would head the BCCI.
The tweet had the apt tone and tenor for closing his very storied cricketing chapter. The final line was all but an official announcement of switching from cricketing flannels to political whites. “I hope you continue your support as I enter this chapter of my life.” What else could it be!
Well, in this case the launch of an educational app.
The BCCI too seemed to be caught unawares about the president’s crossword-like clue from hell. Even as verified Twitter handles started to spread this unverified news, the phones of board officials didn’t stop ringing.
It was only after BCCI secretary Jay Shah’s statement to an agency that the frenzy would subside.
“The rumours doing rounds about Mr Sourav Ganguly stepping down from the post of BCCI President are factually incorrect. We have some exciting times in the form of media rights coming up and my colleagues and I are completely focused on the upcoming opportunity and safeguarding the interest of Indian cricket,” Shah told ANI.
In this busy hour, as Shah pointed out, the Indian board could have avoided rumours triggered by their president.
Intrigue has continued to stay in the air during Ganguly’s eventful tenure. The tweet-confusion comes within months of Virat Kohli contradicting the BCCI president in wake of the captaincy switch.
First Ganguly said that Kohli had been asked to reconsider his decision to quit T20 captaincy. Nothing of that sort happened, countered Kohli at an official press conference.
The media would have a field day. Conjectures would get drawn and conspiracy theories would get floated.
Soon there was another presser, this on Zoom was the chairman of selectors Chetan Sharma. As expected, he was swarmed with questions about the captaincy conundrum and changing dynamics around the team. Sharma would say that he laughs at media reports that are speculative.
If he had gone to the root of the problem, he would have a deeper understanding of the problem and realised it was within. Having done that, he wouldn’t have found the media reports funny.
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National Sports Editor
The Indian Express