Sometime back, in a post of mine, I made the statement – Greg Chappell has to decide now if he is man or mouse. Of course this was much before this spat between him and Ganguly – and at that time the Chuckster had no idea that drama of such proportions would be unfolding so soon - but basically, Chappell has answered this question without leaving any question of ambiguity.
In this whole saga, I feel sorry for Ganguly for but the good of Indian cricket, I feel Greg C has to win. Ganguly has been the king for a long time and he has earned his plaudits and it is his misfortune that he has to come up against a strong character like Greg C at this state of his career when he has to rely on past glory to make his point. Three years back, when Ganguly could assert himself with the bat, he could have talked through his performances. Now he is reduced to having his attitude / skills etc being ridiculed in public and all he can do is make lame statements about his past record and not being in good form only since the series against Pakistan …. Who is he kidding anyway? Ganguly the player exists today coz he is the captain … people talk about Yuveraj and Kaif not being good enough to replace a stalwart like Ganguly but I say this – are they as good as Ganguly was in his prime …. NO …. Are they better than Ganguly is today … YES. If u r not happy with Yuveraj and Kaif, look beyond them … today almost anyone can be as good as Ganguly on the field … it is not that hard anymore.
The question is really of roles and responsibilities. What is Ganguly’s role and what is Chappell’s role in Indian cricket today? I have feel following the media frenzy of the past few days and people keep talking about Ganguly being the motivating factor in the team and being the guy who built it from bottom up. I even agree with this statement coz in my opinion, Indian cricket would have been poorer without Ganguly’s leadership over the past few years. However, he was doing a job that was not his … building an Indian team was the job of the BCCI and the selectors … but since they weren’t willing / capable of doing their job, it was left to him and Wright. Since Ganguly the player carried his weight too, no one minded … today the situation is different coz Ganguly the player doesn’t merit a place in the team … only if u make him captain can u actually fit him in the team. Greg C, on the other hand, is doing his job …. Strategizing is his job and identifying the correct personnel to execute his strategy is also his job. In an ideal scenario, the captain and coach would execute the strategy together but here the captain doesn’t fit into the coach’s strategy … the problems begin right here.
IMO, Ganguly did a great job for Indian cricket … great … amazing … give him a momento and a benefit match … give him some award …. Don’t give him a place in the eleven today coz he did something for Indian cricket in the past. Today he is like Rajanikanth, the South Indian superstar, who still beats up the baddies and shakes his booty, albeit wearing a wig to hide his apparent old age. Rajanikanth gets umpteen takes to make his moves … Ganguly will get only one chance every time he walks onto the field … he takes it or gets crucified.
I can understand where Greg C is coming from … he has been given a job and for that he has formulated a plan where working hard and being extremely fit is one of the major criterias … and discipline and commitment are the backbone of the plan. However, the number one player in the team, the captain, is not ready to either work hard or follow the coach’s plan … but wants to do what he has always done … control the show by his own maverick methods. These two approaches clash terribly … it was always going to happen. My only surprise is that it happened so soon. Thinking over it, I am glad it happened so soon … whichever way the battle goes, it is better to get it over with as soon as possible.
When we hired an Australian for the coach’s job, it was always a dicey decision. Whatever u got, u would get it up front and that is what has happened now. Too bad that the captain and the coach r not getting along but then when Ganguly was king, so many others who didn’t fit into his plan of action were thrown by the wayside … the wheel has come full circle here and it is Ganguly’s turn to go.
The most amusing part is the role of the media in all this. Most of those who r covering this story have no clue on what cricket is and what a good batsman / bowler / fielder / captain / coach r supposed to do. They just know the names … Ganguly, Tendulkar, Dravid, Chappell … and based on those names, they r trying to make up a story entertaining enough for their viewers. I am actually surprised this hasn’t turned into a foreigner vs. Indian issue … though there is time for that yet.
Greg C must be wondering what kind of a madhouse he has stepped into … but the advantage he has in this situation is that he can pack up and go whenever he wants. He would lose a lot of money which the BCCI would have paid him over the next couple of years but apart from that, he will go with his reputation enhanced as someone who doesn’t hesitate to call a spade a spade. Ganguly on the other hand is on a stickier wicket. Even if he wins this round against Chappel and it is Chappell who gets the boot, each time he steps onto the field, he will be under the scanner … and I don’t know if Ganguly realizes it but his days r over … and a few more scores of the type he has been scoring of late and all the questions about his capability will rise again … and again … and again. Greg C has opened up a pandora’s box and it isn’t closing anytime soon, whether he remains a part of Indian cricket or not.
The charges against Ganguly are being debated upon like something amazingly un-expected has been revealed. About his not being fitness conscious and making excuses not to work hard, wasn’t it apparent to all of us for so many years? Have u seen him run between the wickets or even run after the ball to the boundary or make a dive to save runs? Physically, he has been at the lower end of the fitness table for years … only no one was willing to take him to task about that. That has changed with Chappell.
The most serious charge (and the one which makes me think the most) is about Ganguly ruling by the policy of divide-and-rule. On one hand, I feel sad that the guy who was given the credit for “Team India” should face a charge like this one … and on the other hand, I cannot think of another way for him to hold onto his crown. His cricket isn’t enough to warrant him a place in the team … and every time a Yuveraj or a Kaif or a Laxman gets dropped from the test and ODI teams, surely there would be bitterness in their minds about some unworthy being in the team while they get tossed around. Kaif and Yuveraj r supposed to be Ganguly’s boys but surely they must know that their futures in test cricket depend on Ganguly’s position in the team … they cannot replace Sehwag, Dravid, SRT or Laxman …. All four are miles ahead of them … so either they turn opener or they replace Ganguly … there is no other way in for them. They might be Ganguly’s boys but how long will they stand and watch their careers slip by?
Divide and rule … hmmm …. I will wait to hear details of this one!
When I think of Ganguly’s fitness or his commitment to fitness and discipline etc, I frequently compare him to Kumble … one of the more im-mobile cricketers in the Indian team … his running is as laboured as Ganguly’s and his dives as painstaking … but what is absent in Ganguly’s case and which is present in Kumble’s is the effort … Kumble may not make that save but he throws all his effort behind that ugly dive of his. Ganguly dives coz he wants to send a message that he tried … actually he didn’t … he knows that and everyone else knows that and he knows that no one can question him as long as that show of effort is there. Till the time Ganguly was king, that was ok … now with Greg C as king, that just won’t do.
Today morning I was listening to the news and the manager of the team gave a statement about Ganguly being part of all practice sessions etc … the news was being splashed as something major and something which went against what Chappell was charging Ganguly with. I didn’t understand that part … obviously Ganguly is going to be part of all fielding and practice drills … he is one of the team, isn’t he? The question that Greg C has raised is not about his absence from fielding and fitness drills but his seriousness about them.
I will be following this situation closely and will try to update my blog as much as possible with my thoughts. The next stage of action seems to be on September 27, when the review committee will meet under the banner of the BCCI … I heard that Ganguly would be present and I guess so would Greg C …. And though the media focus will be on the Ganguly – Chappell spat, one must remember that the review committee’s job is not to choose one over the other … their job is to review everyone’s performance and make a report to the BCCI with their recommendations. So the conclusion of the drama would surely not be on September 27 …. The only question in my mind is whether the issue would be resolved before the next series … coz no way is the team gonna be able to play cricket with this huge drama going on … and if the BCCI actually tries to delay this issue for its own political compulsions, we might see a frustrated Greg C packing his bags and leaving on his own.
Ending this post with a query … all of u guys reading this send and receive mails … if u send a mail to me, do tell me who can leak the email … me, u or someone who has the password to our mailboxes. Doesn’t that really narrow down the window a lot?
I wrote this post today afternoon (Sunday September 25) but I am seeinng on the TV right now about Harbhajan coming out in support of Ganguly .... saying that it is Chappell who is creating an atmosphere of fear in the team and Ganguly is the best captain possible etc. I will write a detailed post on it when possible but my initial take on this - Harbhajan is one of the "lazy gang" as I call them in my own mind ... with other members being Nehra and Zaheer and Sehwag. While it is commendable on Bhajji's part to back the man who has backed him over the years, I for one have no trust in his opinion ... coz Ganguly staying just means Bhajji gets a free ride in the team without too much of hard work ... and I fully expected Ganguly to be backed by the ones who fear Chappell's mantra of hard work.
Also heard comments from Kirthi Azad and Ashok Malhotra .... both saying Harbhajan would do well to stay quiet on the matter and let the BCCI handle it.