The all-rounder makes a comeback!

2005 Nov 25 by DreamCricket

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 changed.