Jaffer took Ganguly's spot? I think not
One of the comments I have been hearing on all the TV channels all through the past days is about why an opener has pushed out a middle order bat, namely Ganguly, out of the team. There r theories galore including the Mumbai connection … Pawar being the Maharashtra strongman and all that.
For some reason, people have associated Jaffer’s inclusion with Gaguly’s exclusion and I want to correct that view. Two separate events happened here … Ganguly got dropped; Jaffer got selected. The two r not related.
See, the issue here is not of Jaffer but of where Ganguly fits into the team. He is a middle order bat and u were to play him, u would play him at number 5 or 6. Right now, there r three claimants for the one spot available in the middle order … in the previous test, two spots were available simply coz Sehwag didn’t play and Dravid opened, thus creating a spot in the middle. So right now, there is only one spot open and there r three guys in Ganguly, Yuveraj and Kaif competing for that one spot.
I don’t think too much of Yuveraj as a test batsman but when it comes to choosing between him and Ganguly, on today’s form, surely I would choose him. Even if I were not to choose him, I am not sure if Ganguly would be the best choice coz Kaif hasn’t really done too bad in the chances he had had. Lets put it this way – whether Yuvi, Kaif or Ganguly gets selected, none of them really r undisputable picks. And only one of them can be picked … lets also be clear on that.
Now we have two openers … Sehwag and Gambhir … and now by adding Jaffer to the list, we not only get a guard against any opener either getting sick (as in Sehwag’s case) or any opener showing a crisis of confidence (seems to be happening with Gambhir) but we also get a situation of – two spots, three guys … may the best two win .. which is always a very healthy situation. And no, for those wondering about the injustice of my statements … three competing for one spot is not the same as three competing for two spots.
So lets get it clear … Jaffer has been selected to have cover for the opening batsmen and not as a replacement for Ganguly. I think it was Ajit Wadekar who made a comment on one of the TV channels about “it being the first time in the history of Indian cricket that a middle order bat has been replaced with an opening batsman” or words to that effect. Mr. Wadekar … just because a camera is thrust in ur face a a mic thrown in front of ur mouth doesn’t indicate u have to talk immediately irrespective of whether it means anything or not. I mean … u can support Ganguly’s exclusion or u might protest it … but do not confuse issues here by talking about how an opener in Jaffer is picked in the place of Ganguly, the middle order bat.
Many people (including Prem Panicker, whose blog I always read) also say that rather than pick Jaffer, the better thing would have been to tell Ganguly to open. It would have been more “fair”, people say. Well, people … I have said this before and I will say it now. Selecting the Indian cricket team is not about being fair but about being practical. If Sourav Ganguly stands a chance of succeeding as opener, sure, it could be tried. Here we r talking of whether he even deserves to hold his place in the middle order coz we no longer believe he can bat … sending him in as opener, a slot which requires so much more of those abilities that he lacks. Sure, we could do it coz Ganguly is an ex-captain and he has served Indian cricket for a long time and this is no way to treat him … blah blah blah yaada yaada yaada. I can imagine his fans saying later – “Oh well, they gave him a chance and he didn’t take it … I guess that is the end of Dada” … Nopes, they r gonna scream – “Get the parliament to enquire on why Sourav Ganguly was made to open the innings … that bas… Greg C wants to chuck Ganguly out and so made him open knowing he would fail …. Yaada yaada yaada”. So if anyone thinks the controversy would have been less had Ganguly been retained in the team, u can forget it. We have to select teams not wondering about whether a certain selection would create controversy or not … if it does, so be it. If Rupa Ganguly doesn’t like it, she can switch off her TV and go stop a train or something.
For those wondering about why Jaffer was selected, all they need to do is go to crickinfo and put a search on his record for the season … it is phenomenal and that is not an exaggeration. I myself haven’t tried crickinfo (I always get confused there … but people tell me it is easy) for this info but I do remember noticing Jaffer’s scores this season whenever I went through the domestic competition results … basically it was very hard to miss his scores coz they were so consistent and big.
My personal take on Jaffer … I said it when he last played for India in the West Indies and I say it now … the man is a terrific batsman and has a great range of attacking shots. When u see him bat, he plays all those great shots and u think – ah, here is the next great thing … and BANG, he would be gone to some stupid shot. He was too aggressive, some people said … he was too careless, some other people said. Maybe it was a mixture of it all … but he certainly showed glimpses of being a very good bat in international cricket. An average of 20 odd goes against my support but then I am just telling it as I saw it. Whether he scores the runs or not is not in my hands.
Anyways, I wanted to get this post in before the match starts tomorrow … so that whether Jaffer plays or not and whether he does well or not, no one accuses the Chuckster’s opinion to be biased by that..