Sep 20, 2005

What have you (un)done, Dada?


Indian cricket is undergoing through one of the worst crisis of the recent times, the worst since the match-fixing times, to be precise. Saurav Ganguly, after scoring his first international hundred in over 20 months, remarked that he was asked to step down as captain and player just before the first test, which means precisely a week before this post is going public. Though he didn’t name, it is/was obvious that Greg Chappel, the coach was the one he was pointing finger at, since he is the only one who has considerable power in the team on tour. That has overshadowed the significance of the series and all the focus now is on what would happen in our team’s management.

Different stories are making rounds, but what seems to be consistent is that it is Ganguly who asked Greg about his ‘honest opinion’ as a elder brother on the team’s composition and what Ganguly’s immediate future is. Greg apparently said that he would include both Yuvraj and Kaif in the team ahead of Ganguly and that Ganguly needs to work on his batting before claiming a legitimate place in the team. It was a private conversation between the two, and then Ganguly stormed out of the room, met Dravid and team manager and complained them on Greg’s remarks. Worst was, on the third day, he chose to mention that in the press conference.

I am not going to discuss on the quality of his hundred. All my applauses to him for that knock, however dour it was, against arguably the weakest bowling he would have faced in his entire test career. What angers me is his mentality over the entire situation. Not withstanding the polarization of the public on whether one is pro- or anti-Ganguly, he has now extended it even in his team. What if he had got our before reaching double digit in the usual customary way of fishing outside the offstump or an ugly ducking of a legside bouncer? And what if runs dry up again?

It is no secret that he is a short-tempered person and tends to get quite emotional a lot. He has had a very good cricketing period from ’96 till 2000. Those were the four-and-half years when he formed the backbone of Indian batting and deservedly awarded the captaincy. No one could question his presence in the team and his batting did all the talking. After that, time and again, his form suffered in both forms of cricket and he always faced those uncomfortable questions from the media, ex-cricketers and public. His defense was “I have had few knocks of 30-40 runs, just I need to convert one of those into a big hundred” and “I am one innings away from being my best again”. Sadly, those were as unglamorous as his jumping around in the crease. Apart from the match-saving and series-defining century against Aus at Gabba in 2003, there was never any hint to deny that the best days of Ganguly are long over.

The current episode shows the arrogance of Ganguly that he truly deserves to be the captain of the team, no matter how the stats show otherwise. He gets terribly angry on whoever questions him and he has the mentality of “I don’t have to answer/prove anyone anymore”. The big downslide of this is that it doesn’t allow him to overcome his shortcomings and score runs, because he thinks he would then be yielding to the pressure and demands of others. He should realize that he is no Mike Brearley, so doesn’t deserve to be a non-performing captain. Also that, even bigger stalwarts like Sachin, Ponting and Hayden have recently been questioned and they have answered it the best way: by letting the bat to the talking.

IMO, the team is like a family and the management is like its elders, husband-and-wife, to be precise. The hubby-wife spat should never be done in front of the kids or other elders in the family, simply because it disrupts the harmony of the family. It has to be sorted out among themselves – period. Worst is the scenario when the family knows of the fight and then one of hubby/wife decides to make it all public and force the family members to take sides. Washing dirty linen in public is something we definitely didn’t expect from someone as expectedly professional and responsible as our captain.

Whatever happened, all I wish/pray is that the problem gets sorted out soon and we focus on real important issues like the fitness, skills, opposition, performance and such.


tt_giant said...

Classic case of one thinking that he is open-minded, but sadly realizes that it is not the case.

Nasser Hussain timed his retirement perfectly. Maybe Ganguly should have also done the same.

Even Steve waugh lingered too long and almost would have lost his last series. But we should not even mention Waugh and Ganguly on the same context.

If Ganguly still persists, and SRT is back, yuvraj would be kicked out!. What a mess!.

Nitin said...

this is what makes sachin a great player. he was captain for a short time, but it affected his battting, so they asked him to step down, or he stepped down himself, and proved with his bat, that he is the best. he did not create a fuss, or start saying that "I dont have to prove to anyone", he thought of his team more than his own place on the team. My suggestion would be to keep dravid as captain, and see if Ganguly can come to his old form.

Raju said...

Deepak, actually it doesnt seem to be an open-minded captain.. rather someone who wanted to do some politics out of what was essentially a closed-door personal chat.

Yeah, Nasser and Waugh decided to 'retire' rather than choose the ignominy of being dropped. Ganguly knows he would be a nobody without captaincy and thats why he is doing all his best (though off-the field).

and the situation you mentioned when Sachin returns holds very much true. Ours becomes a closed middle-order, which opens up only when someone gets injured. Think about four similar-aged guys (around 32), who give youngsters no chance whatsoever to bat in the middle-order. Rahul, Sachin and Laxman are too good to be replaced by anyone in the circuit now. Saurav surely doesnt belong there, when compared to promising guys like Kaif and Yuvraj. He wont open either.. so, all the youngsters are expected to change their style to suit the requirements of the field, like open the innings, devlop a non-existing wicket-keeping skill, etc.. Highly competing world..

Raju said...

Nitin, it is a joke to say that Sachin's form suffered, which lots of people did.. (i had an hour-long argument with one such guy on saturday). As Sachin himself said, he had recorded his first double century and was the man-of-the series in Australia. Still his batting suffered? Rubbish.
He knew of his and his team's limitations so he chose to get down. When he said that "I am not enjoying captaining any more", it was a painful truth..

ada-paavi!!!! said...

actually it wud be better to sack half the team and rebuild because most of them think they have a rightful place in the side, not related to their performance.

Narayanan Venkitu said...

MHO - Go against the coach and you are fired. Ganguly deserves it. He had too many chances. He must go and give way to a budding youngster. Why not give Venugopal Rao some more chances?

Living in old glory isn't good. I just hate the indian team for it. Not now...its been happening forever, cases, - Prasanna, Bedi, Chandra, Venkat - thanks to them spinners like Rajendar Goel / Shivalkar never had a chance. Now thanks to Anil Kumble - Anantha Padmanabhan is out. There are other good cricketers who don't get a chance thanks to old glory.!!

Ganguly - I can score against Zimbabwe..So please step down and shutup your mouth talking about the coach. You are setting a bad example.!

visithra said...

Ahem side track ganguly is cute ;p

Me no like cricket, football pathi eluduhna kuda nah edahvathu koovuvhen - ithu chanceeh illeh - hummm

Raju said...

Vatsan, I know thats what you have been telling for looong time.. Unfortunately, mate, our bench strength is nothing to boast about.. until we get good batsmen/bowlers challenging the current crop, we will keep seeing the same names being rotated for a while..

Raju said...

Narayanan, you are right.. that should be the way to inculcate discipline in this team. Venugopal Rao seems to be a decent test prospect, so surely deserves a try..
Our idolization resulted in the examples that you have given. Mediocrity has managed to hold some people in the side due to some past glories.
Ganguly wanted to create a sympathy factor by saying so against the selector but little did he realize that he shot himself on the foot..

Vis, I understand. Ganguly is cute, huh? Mmm..

Nag said...

hey, whether suhrit knows ur blogspot, i was wondering all these days y he is not posting any comments? if he is known abt ur blogs he shd have commented, atleast for this post.

anyhow u have read the rediff article i forwarded.

Raju said...

Nagesh, I think i told him about this new site. Been a while since I talked to him. I am not sure whether he is familiar with the blog posting and stuff.. Moreover, he's pretty busy.. If he reads this, then there will be lots of dual exchanges of comments between us.. :-) And frankly, I am tired of that kinda argument.

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