Enough reports and various versions of the face off between Greg Chappell and Saurav Ganguly have hit the headlines in the past three days. There’s no point in discussing who was right. Frankly, neither was.
Let’s first take Ganguly’s case. He’s had a reasonably horrendous run of form in the past year. Add to it, the media pressure, regular suspensions and India’s poor form as a whole. When Sachin was out of form, the team did not perform so badly, and it was ignored in the bigger scheme of things. The main problem here is Ganguly never got to spend time in the middle. Even when he played the minnows (whom we play so often in a season, and never in another) like BAN and ZIM, he never managed to get a 100, though he did play some reasonably good knocks. The 100 eluded him (as when he got that 98* in Kandy, a real captain’s knock after a string of horrendous decisions from Asoka de Silva) and pressure mounted, with all and sundry (as Sriraj said, incl. the selectors, who haven’t one tenth of Ganguly’s talent nor experience) exerting pressure on him. This was a series to which he set off with the probability of it being (still remains, considering his outburst) his last series. Now, he gets a 100, and people say it was slow, it was a selfish knock (yeah his 100 was deducted from the team’s score because it was a selfish knock) and boring (it almost lost India the test — winning ZIM in > 3 days is as good as losing). It is a crime to utilise a series against minnows to get yourself back to form — you go out there to braze them and walk back with the trophy in 2.5 days. To put things in perspective, if the great talented Yuvraj Singh’s wkt was followed by Ganguly’s, India may not have got much more than 450 and if the ZIM top order had survived the new ball, it would have taken the match into late day 4 or day 5. Ganguly’s innings, however it was played, did contribute to the victory. There was not even a mention of this is any article I read, save maybe a Cricinfo bulletin. This just goes to show the extent of media bias. (Media bias is no surprise. There are a group of people whom the media like to hate and so do the general public.) So what if he scores against the minnows? Losing to minnows is a greater disgrace. I’d take it if he scores only against the minnows (we have so many of them now) and comes up with a 144 against AUS at Brisbane once in two years!
Now, over to Chappell. Unless you are convinced that Saurav Ganguly is a totally spent force, who is no longer capable for international cricket, there is absolutely no bloody need to drop him against ZIM. Why, you want Kaif to come in score a 200 and feel good, is it? Can’t really see the logic. I can’t think of any team where the coach would have done this to the captain. Like it or not, you can’t dismiss the president overnight. You have to go through the arduous process of impeachment. Chappell must reconsider his high-handed behaviour. As a coach, you must be a good HRM, without that, all your cricketing acumen is of little use to the team.
Does there exist a solution? Well, that’s a big question. But, for the moment, if Sachin can return to the side (I think his presence always makes a difference to the atmosphere in the team) and Ganguly and Greg can apologise to each other and patch up and hopefully the team performs well, things can be forgotten and pushed to the back seat for quite some time, enough time to ensure things will work smoothly for Indian cricket. If Ganguly is indeed axed, that would be atrocious, and it would be an unceremonious exit for India’s most aggressive captain, one who revived Indian cricket from it’s deepest hole (match-fixing etc) and took it to great heights (yes, no captain does it without support from his team, but several captains have had great teams but Ganguly did make great use of his teams and nurtured the talent of Yuvi, Kaif, Bhajji, Sehwag. Even if these guys to forget him, we shouldn’t.)