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Ganguly mishooks a Dalmiya full toss
by Gulu Ezekiel
Aug 04, 2006
With dozens of round-the-clock news channels hungry to fill up airtime, the 'silly season' in Indian cricket, when the team is not actually involved in matches, can prove frustrating for the ever-hungry electronic media.

Just as well then that there have been a few off-field 'masala' stories to keep them at bay.

The ongoing camp for the team in Bangalore had its own share of intrigue and cloak-and-dagger elements. Coach Greg Chappell is on leave. But his trusty lieutenants came up with just the idea to pique everyone's interest, a secret trip to an institute just outside the city that apparently corporate-types flock to for their bonding exercises. The media was barred, though they did manage to trail the team's buses all the way.

Then came the news that former coach John Wright had just written his memoirs of the four years he spent guiding the Indian team in partnership with captain Sourav Ganguly.

The publishers cleverly leaked out some spicy extracts that naturally excited the taste buds of the cricket fraternity. Though no one in India has yet read the book in its entirety, it is possibly the first time someone so closely connected with Indian cricket has blown the lid, so to speak.

It was a dead giveaway reaction how some of the selectors rushed to the press to defend themselves when Wright had not actually mentioned anyone by name!

In fact his condemnation of the zonal system of selection in Indian cricket is nothing new. For decades now regionalism and parochialism have been part and parcel of the game here and yet no one wants to ruffle feathers and change the system. It is after all a vote-catching exercise and the hunger to stay in power is all consuming in Indian sport.

Then came the drama in Kolkata where Jagmohan Dalmiya, currently running from cover from the BCCI, bounced back to retain the presidency of the Cricket Association of Bengal which has been his personal fiefdom for decades.

What made things so intriguing in this particular election was the role of Ganguly. It is an open secret that Dalmiya has backed Ganguly right from the start of his career.

For the former captain to therefore turn on his one-time benefactor was like twisting the knife in his back.

It is still not known whether the move will backfire on Ganguly or whether he will be rewarded for his 'loyalty' by the BCCI when they pick the 30 probables next week for the Champions Trophy.

Dalmiya's feat lies in the fact that he has achieved single-handedly what no political party in Bengal has managed for 30 years, give a stinging rebuke to the Left Front government that tried its best (or worst) to sabotage his chances in the poll.

It's no wonder Dalmiya's bete noir Raj Singh Dungarpur referred to him as a cat with nine lives. It remains to be seen how many he has left though!

 
More Views by Gulu Ezekiel
  Book Review: Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 2014
  Pankaj: Bengal's Forgotten Cricket Legend
  Book Review - My Journey to the World Cup: The Sky is the Limit
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