There were large dollops of both symbolism and
poignancy on display at the Feroze Shah Kotla ground
in the Capital when the team for the Test series for
South Africa was announced on Thursday afternoon.
The Delhi and Uttar Pradesh squads were at the nets
in the morning on the eve of their Ranji Trophy Super
League clash and there were at least four players from
both sides who must have had butterflies in their
stomachs, knowing they were in the reckoning.
Finally it was Punjab medium-pacer VRV Singh who got
the nod ahead of Delhi's Ashish Nehra and RP Singh of
Nehra, who picked up just one wicket in the opening
tie against Tamil Nadu at the same ground last week,
was out on the ground just briefly in the morning.
When asked where he had gone after that, one team
official said tongue-in-cheek: "He is in the pavilion,
Nehra's prayers were not answered this afternoon but
that was not the case for another Delhi player, opener
It was state-mate Akash Chopra who narrowly lost out
to Gambhir for the third opener's slot and this led to
a tense atmosphere in the Delhi dressing room where
the players were having lunch when the announcement
was made just yards away in one of the shabbier rooms
of the DDCA.
That certainly made for poignant scenes. But the
symbolism came in the form of former national selector
and Bengal captain Sambaran Banerjee who is here in
the capacity of Match Referee for Friday's tie.
A loud gasp and a smattering of applause as well--rose
from the massed ranks of the city's journalists as
soon as Ganguly's name was announced by BCCI Secretary
and Selection Committee convener Niranjan Shah in the
Banerjee, pacing the corridor outside the team
dressing rooms not far away, had reason to be
delighted. He was after all instrumental as captain
for getting the teenage Sourav in to the Bengal team
for the final against Delhi in March 1990, at the
expense of elder brother Snehashis.
A year later Sourav had been chosen for the national
side for Australia in 1991-92. But the negative
fallout of that tour meant he would find himself in
the wilderness for another four years.
It was in Delhi in April 1996 that Banerjee would once
more play a pivotal part in Ganguly's career, helping
to bring him back controversially for the tour of
England in 1996 in his role as the national selector
from East Zone. The rest of course is Indian cricket
Today when asked for his reaction to Ganguly's latest
comeback, Banerjee was non-committal. "It's OK", he
said, shrugging his shoulders.
There was no mistaking his elation however with his
cell-phone stuck to his ear, continuously fielding
calls from Kolkata. One comment this correspondent
picked up: "The fireworks celebrating on the streets
of Kolkata are going as high as the bounce of the ball
on the pitches of South Africa".
It remains to be seen now how Ganguly copes with that