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Writing off Ganguly?
by Gulu Ezekiel
Apr 26, 2005
What a difference 12 months can make in the life of a cricketer. Just ask Sourav Ganguly and Inzamam-ul-Haq.

It was exactly a year back that Ganguly returned triumphant after becoming the first Indian captain to win a series in Pakistan (even though he missed the first two Tests due to injury). Added to this was another first, clinching the one-day series.

Pakistan’s captain on the other hand was in high dudgeon—to him went the dubious distinction of surrendering the country’s honour to the arch-enemy, that too on home soil for the first time in 50 years. Now the tables have been neatly turned.

Inzamam is being hailed at home as a "national hero" while Ganguly has seen his world crashing around him—loss of form, loss of face, loss of his place in the side through a heavy ban.

Even though the Test series ended 1-1, there is no doubt the young and inexperienced tourists who had been written off even by their own countrymen, stole a march on the mighty Indians who enjoyed a wonderful 2003-04 season.

The season just ended on the other hand has been a miserable one. And to top it all, the man who played such a big part in the past successes, coach John Wright has called it quits as well.

Fortunately the Indians have a few months in which to get over their setbacks and hopefully build the team up with an eye on the 2007 World Cup.

Ganguly may still have a vital part to play in the campaign. You cannot after all write off a man who has bounced back from adversity so often. Remember, he was in the wilderness for five years after a disastrous tour to Australia in 1991-92. But it will not be easy this time as youth is not on his side any more and neither is form.

This whole business of select members of the BCCI insisting on dragging out the ICC ban issue on Ganguly into what is beginning to look like a soap-opera has become self-defeating.

After all, the rules laid down by ICC are in black and white and have been ratified by all national bodies, India including. Just how many appeals processes are we going to be dragged through? The sooner the captain and his band of supporters put this behind him the better for Ganguly in particular and Indian cricket in general.

Indian fans—with the electronic media whipping up a frenzy--have hardly covered themselves in glory in recent years. Remember, after India’s poor start to the World Cup in 2003, processions were taken out in Indian cities including Kolkata where the captain’s portrait was garlanded with footwear and the players’ properties were stoned.

All this talk of cricket being akin to religion in India is sounding increasingly jingoistic, even dangerous. Cricket is not religion—it’s a sport. Let’s not forget that, for goodness sakes.
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