It has been four years since Ganguly claimed a
wicket in Test matches. But Dada wanted to come back in "any role" - and the selectors got creative.
Sourav Ganguly can thank his lucky stars that the
powers that be in Indian cricket, though not perhaps
for too much longer, have thrown him a lifeline. Added
to that the fanatical following back home in Kolkata
means the selectors were under twin-threats to include
him in the team for the first Test match against Sri
Lanka next month.
It is a sorry spectacle when a sporting contest has to
add layer upon layer of security for the sake of an
individual. By all accounts the venue for the
match took on the look of Fortress Eden Gardens.
It is hard to decide which is more diabolical - the
arm-twisting exerted on the selectors by top Board
officials who have no business interfering in such
matters; or the virtual blackmail tactics of Kolkata's
"fans." The very fact that the selection for the Test
match was brought forward by a few days indicates it
is a mix of both.
Anyway, by "hook" or by crook (quite literally), Dada is back in the team. And the way the ODI went reaffirmed his supporters' faith in him. The Dada didn't let his fans down in his own Ranji match - he provided them with ammunition by smashing a century for Bengal while his country was suffering the consequences of a plan gone somewhat awry.
Of course, ironies never cease in Indian cricket. And here we
have an official who almost destroyed Ganguly's career
at its very birth (in Australia in 1991-92) now coming
to his rescue, of course with Indian cricket's ace
puppet-master controlling the strings as usual. Shades
of national politics!
Then comes the bitter irony of the once-great captain
who backed youngsters like Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh
and Mohammad Kaif all the way, now blocking their path
into the team. And to think that Zaheer only the other
day dismissed his former mentor for a "duck" in both
innings in the Duleep Trophy!
Whether it was a giveaway line expressing their
frustration or an effort to cover their tracks, the
selectors' statement that Ganguly has been chosen as
an all-rounder in place of Zaheer really takes the
cake. It has been four years since Ganguly claimed a
wicket in Test matches.
And if he is to make the final XI for the Chennai
Test, the ex-captain will take the place of either
Yuvraj or Kaif, a crying shame that. It is like going
back to Square One as it was this very situation that
saw coach Greg Chappell frankly tell the captain at
that time in Zimbabwe that he was no longer worth his
place in the side.
Then it was vice-captain Rahul Dravid who gallantly
came to the rescue of his leader. Now Ganguly shooting
off his mouth and promptly shooting himself in the
foot means that Dravid is ensconced on the throne
while Ganguly is left groveling for "any role" in the
team! A pathetic state of affairs indeed.
Compromises and politics have always been the bane and
name of the game in India. In that regard at least,
after 73 years of India in Test cricket, little has