Thursday, October 09, 2008

Should there be a fuss about Saurav Ganguly leaving the game a little peeved?


Saurav Ganguly is not really such a likeable character, after all. He does not know how to manage himself when the chips are down. He sulks and sulks, and pours his heart out to the Bengali media. For a fighter like him, and he is one, this is a surprising characteristic.
But there is truth in what he is sulking about. The chap has been literally hounded in the last three years, especially after that arch-villain and uncouth cricketer, Greg Chappell took over as coach of the Indian team in 2005. It is of course an irony that it was Ganguly who had got him. Then came that silly chief selector called Kiran More, who took potshots at Ganguly. More was no great player, and he had no sense of humility either. Compared to More, Ganguly was a giant. But the bureaucratic set up of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is such that pygmies like More strut about like giants once they become selectors.
Dileep Vengsarkar, who succeeded as the chief selector, did not do any better with regard to Ganguly. He too behaved like a small-minded person.
The unfortunate fallout of the hound-Ganguly-game is the undignified behaviour of Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar, who are such wonderful players and human beings. Dravid fell into the Chappell trap and tried to belittle Ganguly instead of standing up for him. Tendulkar, for all his stature of the great batsman, maintained a timid and selfish silence as Ganguly was hauled over the coals. Had Ganguly been in the place of either Dravid or Tendulkar, he would have fought for them openly. That is the difference between a good captain that Ganguly was, and bad captains that Dravid and Tendulkar were. There is reason to suspect that even Anil Kumble, the fine gentleman that he is, tried to play safe and distanced himself with regard to the selection of Ganguly in the team
It is a fair question to ask whether there is something really wrong with Ganguly as a person that his colleagues are so averse to support him. Perhaps, there is. Ganguly is an imperfect personality, too angular, too many social inhibitions. Perhaps he made up for the lack of graces by being the focused and aggressive captain and player that he was.
The pluck of Ganguly needs to be praised and celebrated. He was in the company of better platyers than himself -- Tendulkar, Dravid, Kumble, and V.V.S.Laxman -- but managed to hold himself up and shone in his own light in their company.
He is not a master batsman like Tendulkar, nor an inspired genius like Kumble or Laxman, nor a studied perfectionist like Dravid.
Ganguly belongs to the brand of stylish, temperamental players in the mould of Salim Durrani, M.L.Jaisimha (the forgotten cricketing great from Hyderabad who died in the most pathetic conditions). He could rise to the occasion and play like a god on his day. But he could be irritatingly erratic as well. He was never consistent as a batsman. That is why, it became easy for selectors to single him out for punishment.
He was also a proud guy, which is the admirable thing about him. Whether he played well or not, he remained consistently arrogant. That must have really got the goat of the mediocre selectors and coaches, who had no personality of their own to speak of.
It might seem a far-fecthed comparison. But there is something in common between Subhas Chandra Bose and Ganguly. They were brilliant and erratic, and they literally scared friends and foes alike because of their temperamental flare-ups.

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