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Friday, December 01, 2006

Ganguly is back, but why did he go?

Saurav Ganguly is back.
I would have been delighted even if the recall had not been a deserved one. But fortunately for Indian cricket, Dilip Vengsarkar is not my best buddy, and Ganguly’s inclusion in the test squad for South Africa was for authentic cricketing reasons only.

While I rejoice over his recall, what’s indeed sad is that India’s most successful captain was dropped from the Indian cricket team that easily, that too on very questionable grounds.( more on that later) For these, I don’t blame the selectors or the Indian cricket board, but the biggest menace of them all – the Indian public. I feel saddened to say this but my countrymen are largely a bunch of idiots, selfish, absolutely myopic and illogical. They were the ones who created an atmosphere where it began to be felt that Ganguly was past his prime, and the selectors threw away all logic out of the window when they took two wrong decisions, first to strip him of his captaincy, and then to drop him from the team itself.

Funnily enough, the world’s second highest century scorer in limited overs cricket was retained in the test squad and dropped from that part of the game where he was stronger. I am sure there would be hardly anyone who would argue with this part!

And then why was he dropped from the test team as well?
In the chronological order he scored 144, 2, 12, 37, 73, 16, 77, 45, 5, 9, 57, 40, 71, 88, 21, 12, 1, 1, 2, 101, 16, 5, 40, 39, 34 & 37 in his last 20 test matches. Before you begin to calculate the average, mode and medians just try to decide with a glance at the list. Chances are you will agree with me that a player doesn’t deserve to be dropped based on this series of scores. If you are still keen, let me tell you that the average works out to over 38. (The median is over 30, and the highest mode is 40!)

Want more statistics? Ganguly averages around 40 in his last six innings. If you think I am stretching the number to six to include that century in Zimbabwe, let’s drop it. Ganguly averages close to 40 even in his last 4 innings. Why I included six was for 2 reasons – these tests are spread across months and more than one series and venue. Further, if a player has been selected for a series or match and he has performed well, it’s quite stupid that you should then drop him for some past performances, which however, as I have illustrated is again not true. There was just one really lean patch where he fared badly – that stretch of 21,12,1,1,2 – this was against Pakistan at home. But he sprung back soon to score a century in Harare, and performed creditably against Pakistan in Pakistan. On pure batting reasons alone, statistically or otherwise, should he have been dropped?

Even if there was a dip, wasn’t there reason to be a little lenient on India’s most successful captain ever, someone who had got the team to believe in itself, someone who was winning series after series for India. A victory starved nation which was in the throes of the match-fixing scandal had been transformed beyond recognition by this man – look at the above series of scores again. That first one, the big 144 was probably the most important test century scored by an Indian cricketer in the last two decades. India were in Australia playing the first test of a new series at Brisbane. The technically sound duo of Tendulkar and Dravid had just been scalped by Jason Gillespie for a total of 1 runs. That’s when Ganguly stepped in and resurrected the team. If Ganguly had failed that day, what’s now a glorious chapter of India’s cricketing history may never have been.

As I write this, another silly poll on a another silly tv channel where lots of silly people participate says that 95% of my countrymen now think that Ganguly should be made captain as well. My advise to the selectors is simple – don’t listen to these idiots. Make him captain if you should, but for better reasons. Yeah, another one – come what may, don’t drop him further, not till the World Cup at least. It was Ganguly who made us so optimistic that we were not happy with a runners-up position at the previous World Cup. With him around, we may just have a chance again….


Ananth said...

right amit. Dada always deserved what he got only now...the India cap. But I feel its good that he was given the stick for sometime. He was under a lot of pressure being the Indian captain and was consistently underperforming though the ability was unquestionable. He was reacting too much to reports in the press and from other birdbrained people and putting himself under even more pressure. Now this lay-off period would have had him thinking a bit and I am sure he will return with more conviction and determination and maturity. Atleast I hope he does. Cos it looks like he is our only hope other than Dravid and MS.

svety said...

Baju I completely agree with u.....its not just about the indian public.....its about any mass that comes together anywhere in the world.....although we in inida , i guess because we are such a mass take public opinion very seriously, especially when its suits us....

Abhigyan said...

Brings me to my eternal bogeyman - VVS. I remember u missed Dada's Gabba innings, but trust me, Laxman got 75 of the most beautiful runs with him. He batted so well, the confidence rubbed off on Dada. In fact, that entire series belonged to Laxman - Adelaide with Dravid, and Sydney with Sachin (where he easily out-batted him). The only Test Laxman didn't clink in at Melbourne, we lost.