It's time for Capt. Dravid.

2005 Sep 24 by DreamCricket

A number of factors have effectively taken the gloss off India’s 2-0 thumping of Zimbabwe.

Indian fans would normally be celebrating the first series victory outside Asia for nearly 20 years. Sadly though, there are a number of mitigating factors which have effectively taken the gloss off India’s 2-0 thumping of Zimbabwe.

The latest victory now means that the only two countries where India are yet to record a series rubber are South Africa and Australia. From a purely cricketing point of view this must rank as a pretty hollow win considering Zimbabwe would struggle to hold their own against even the weakest of teams in the Ranji Trophy.

Further, the Indian performance was far from top class, particularly in the second Test at Harare, where we had never won a Test match before this one. The way the Indian batting crawled on the second day and then the manner in which the Zimbabwe tail-enders put our bowling to the sword on the third hardly augurs well for the sterner tests ahead this season.

Irfan Pathan had an outstanding series but he would be the first one to admit the lack of challenge considering the pathetic way the Zimbabwe top order repeatedly crumbled.

The tri-series which preceded the Test matches was also a flop for the Indians as they once again failed in the final.

Unfortunately the biggest headlines of the tour were —thanks to the public —spat between Sourav Ganguly and coach Greg Chappell. Ganguly's leaking out of a confidential conversation has broken the most sacred of covenants in a cricket team—what happens in the dressing room stays in the dressing room.

That he should wait till he scored one of the dreariest international centuries in recent years before spilling the beans to the media has shown him up in very poor light.

Chappell diffused the crisis by putting out a conciliatory statement on the eve of the second Test. But the Australian legend is nobody’'s fool. He knows he only has to bide his time before there is a change at the top and the sooner that happens the better it will be.

While the timing of Chappell'’s e-mail condemning the captain can be questioned, its contents no doubt have the ring of truth. Save for the ever-loyal fans in his hometown, it appears the whole of India has now tired of Ganguly’s antics and ego trips.

A poll in the latest issue of a weekly Indian magazine shows that over 80% of those questioned want Ganguly to be dropped.

Few Indian sportspersons understand the value of going out gracefully and tend to hang on till even their own teammates tire of them. This was certainly the case with Kapil Dev though Sunil Gavaskar showed much more sense in this regard, as did Vijay Merchant, the Indian batting legend of the 40s and 50s.

Merchant’s famous line: “"when it comes time to retire, let the public ask why and why not"” is true even today.

That is not to say that Ganguly’'s career at the international level is over. At 32 he may well have a couple more years left in him and can certainly make a comeback. But right now on form both as batsman and captain the time has come for him to be dropped. Certainly if the shenanigans of BCCI politics eventually see the Kolkata lobby voted out, Ganguly'’s days too will be numbered.

The time has now come for Rahul Dravid to take over the reins and mould the team for the 2007 World Cup, working with Chappell rather than against him.