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Cricket Controversies

 Telegraphs, Calcutta

‘Both parties (Sourav, Chappell) at war should have gone’
- A good captain is one who is a good man manager: Tony Greig


Sydney: Tony Greig is in his 60th year, but hasn’t lost any of his zest for life. A former England captain and, in recent years, a much-in-demand TV commentator, the one-time allrounder spoke to The Telegraph on the captaincy developments back in India. Easily among the most popular cricketers to have toured India, Greig has been keeping track of the happenings in Bangalore and in Calcutta. Mohali, too.

The following are excerpts

On whether captains have a shelf life

Absolutely… No captain has been captain for life… It has always been a matter of time… Talking of myself, I never forgot what my father told me when I became the England captain — ‘Before you get too excited, just look at what happened before your time’… And, on a close study, I realised most predecessors had to go before they were ready to leave! So, I took the job with that at the back of my mind. (After a pause) In a funny sort of way, when I joined Packer’s World Series Cricket, it was me doing something before they (the selectors) doing something to me.

On Sourav Ganguly’s removal as captain

Everybody must appreciate the resilience it takes to be an Indian captain for any length of time… Sourav, I understand, was captain for over five years… Because of the fanaticism in India, you could do a reasonably good job but, because of one defeat, still lose the captaincy… That’s unfair, yet is always a possibility (in India)… It appears Sourav’s row with coach Greg Chappell influenced the selectors and, therefore, both the parties at war should have gone. Ironically, Sourav played some role — albeit behind the scenes — in getting Greg on board.

On the captain-coach relationship

It’s of huge importance and, if Rahul Dravid keeps the job long term, then he has the right to work with a coach he’s comfortable with. There have been instances when coaches, not players, have been beneficiaries of continuity. In my view, that’s not correct. I’m not in favour of continuity of tenure for only one powerful position. That can encourage off-the-field power play and politics.

On Sourav and Chappell having a tussle over who will be the boss

The captain has to be the boss — why this debate? The coach is part of the support staff and is around to back the captain. The coach is certainly the most important there but, then, he remains on the support staff. We must not confuse cricket with soccer.

On his assessment of Sourav as captain

I’m not a big one for rating people… However, Sourav’s captaincy did impress me, not least because of the pressure he had to take. India needed somebody like him and, frankly, he wouldn’t have been around for so long if he was touchy. That he is the most successful Indian Test captain can’t be taken away from him.

On whether Sourav has it in him to make a comeback purely as a batsman

First, he has to ask himself whether he wants to… I don’t rule out anything, but you don’t get better with age… Once in the 30s, it becomes difficult…

On his message for Sourav

Get fit, work hard at nets to iron out some of the problems… As I’ve said, he has to first ask himself whether he wants to continue playing.

On Dravid getting to captain in 12 ODIs on the trot
What worries me is that one-day matches may go either way and it won’t be fair to judge him on the basis of ODIs alone… I know he’s an intense guy and has his priorities in place, but…

On whether Dravid’s batting could suffer

That’s a different issue. Fact is some handle captaincy situations better than others… I can’t say… If his batting suffers, Dravid is himself going to be the one to give it away.

On whether he modelled his own captaincy on somebody

Well, I looked up to Ray Illingworth… The earliest captain does make an impression.

On the essentials for captaincy

Let me answer your question this way: A good captain is one who is a good man manager… Obviously, he has to be an automatic selection and, then, have the qualities to manage not just the senior players but the coach as well.
Finally, whether there’s currently a stand-out captain
No one’s great… Stephen Fleming isn’t much different from a Michael Vaughan and Vaughan isn’t much different from a Ricky Ponting… I wouldn’t like to place anybody on a special pedestal.

                         — KIRAN MORE , CHAPEL GIVE ANSWER

Ganguly deserved better treatment

Vijay Lokapally
NEW DELHI: Sourav Ganguly has found overwhelming support from all corners of the country. The selectors’ decision to exclude him has not been received well and the consensus is that the former skipper deserved a better deal.

Kapil Dev: It is sad. Sourav did not deserve this. Not after his wonderful contribution to Indian cricket. Sourav is not the first cricketer to have suffered but then let us ensure that such dirty episodes are not repeated. But that is the BCCI for you. These officials will not offer any explanation for such a poor step. Ill-treating top cricketers has been the trend in our cricket and it is indeed tragic when you look at Sourav’s immense effort in raising a good side and standing by his players.

Mohinder Amarnath: There can be no justification for the manner in which the selectors have handled things. Things could have been better. What was the hurry to take such a decision. They have been very, very unfair to Sourav. This is no way to treat a national icon. In any case, how do you justify his exclusion when he has scored runs and contributed in the team’s victory. It is clear that the selectors have different yardsticks for different people. That is why I have always said that there should be fewer selectors and they should be cricketers of stature. My heart goes out to Sourav. He simply did not deserve this shoddy treatment.

Dilip Vengsarkar: It shows the immaturity of the selection committee. They have shown utter disregard for someone who has contributed immensely to Indian cricket and he certainly did not deserve this kind of treatment. What have the selectors tried to prove? Sourav is a national hero and you don’t insult your heroes. There have been precedents when selectors have handled things poorly but nothing to match this. There is simply no cricketing merit in his exclusion.

Sandeep Patil:
Same ground and same hotel. I had suffered a similar fate in 1984 and never played a Test again in my life. So I can understand how Sourav feels. It is a shocking decision that defies logic. Normally a player is dropped after failure but here Sourav had scored runs in both innings. He was involved in two partnerships that helped the team win the match. The issue could have been dealt with in better fashion. The selectors are not justified at all in dropping him after having brought him in just a few days ago. It was a bold decision no doubt. The argument could be that Indian cricket has to move forward because some youngsters are waiting for opportunities. But the selectors have made a mess of it really. They may not be answerable for their decisions but then there is no consistency here.

Madan Lal: If I were a selector, I would have spoken to him. He has been the captain, done well for the country, looking at his contribution we could have told him what we had in mind. Maybe after consulting him we would have taken a decision. He deserved this much of a farewell. The signs were there that they would drop him. Maybe they wanted to be fair to a youngster like Yuvraj Singh. But I would have preferred someone talking to him. He is a big player no doubt. They should have waited for one more Test.

Aunshuman Gaekwad: Nothing could have been more illogical. Ridiculous decision I must say. First you drop him, then bring him in, put him in the eleven, ask him to score runs. He scores runs and then you show him the door. Very, very unfair. In the last Test, Sourav was included instead of Zaheer Khan because the selectors thought he was a batting all-rounder. So when Sourav is dropped, logically Zaheer should come in. But they bring in an opener, who should have been there in the first place. It would have helped avoid experiments like Rahul (Dravid) and Irfan (Pathan) opening the innings. Can there be any comparison between Sourav and Yuvraj (Singh). They have only insulted a senior cricketer for all the good work he has done as captain.

Indian Express
This wasn’t cricket
The culture of our sport and our society demanded that Sourav Ganguly Deserved to choose his exit; instead, his lifeline was rudely cut
Posted online: Friday, December 16, 2005 at 0110 hours IST
We preferred the guillotine to the red carpet, offered a lonely waiting room not a warm handshake. Alas! When the time comes for a member of the family to leave, we go to see them off, hand over a gift, maybe, and always wish them well. This is courtesy. When the hard decision has been taken, courtesy must take over. We let ourselves down.
A decision to end the career of a fine performer and former leader is not taken in 20 minutes, don’t let anybody kid you into believing that. This decision would have been preceded by informal discussions, a meeting maybe, at least a day before. The match was sewn up, there was enough time to speak to Ganguly and offer him a polite exit; to allow him to lead his team on and off the field.
Certainly he deserved that option. We show our culture in the manner we treat those that depart, not as much those that arrive.
Sadly, Ganguly cannot realistically hope to find his way back into this team. When you are armed with a telescope you don’t look behind and I will be surprised if he is part of the debate at future selection committee meetings. He needs to blast the door open or hope the power structure changes again and, after the annual spring cleaning, there is a more favourable committee to decide on his future. By then the fire might well be spent.
In all fairness, the manner of his inclusion in the first place was wrong. He had to make it among the seven best batsmen or not at all. There was a diktat and no wordplay can hide that. But a wrong to undo another wrong isn’t a sign of distinction; an eye for an eye will hurt everybody. You will hear people say that there is no sentiment in sport. Of course there is. A touch of sadness, a bit of joy, a lump in the throat and hope in the breast, that is what we watch and play sport for. Take away sentiment and emotion and sport grows cold.
You may or may not agree with his exclusion but there is at least thought in it. If his performance in Zimbabwe was an indicator, he would have struggled against pace and, truth be told, he probably would not have made that team unless there was a huge hundred at Ahmedabad. And India needed Yuvraj to play as much Test cricket as possible while in this kind of form.
But we offered Ganguly a lifeline, even if some believed inappropriately, and we needed to see it through.
While one player is shown the exit, another will march through the front door in style. Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly are both tough cricketers but they make a study in contrast. The resolute trier versus the temperamental performer, strength and silence versus flamboyance. Kumble’s has been a staggering career and it will now be a hundred test matches old.
Over the last 15 years he has gone about his job with great commitment and resolve; with hardly a tantrum and with one of the largest hearts you will see. Such people exist too. Like Mr Sreedharan who, without a fuss, builds an underground railway system in the heart of Delhi. Like our various election commissioners who conduct elections in Bihar and Kashmir without calling photographers and boasting about their feats. Like Anil Kumble.
These are the real pillars of India. They give modesty its rightful place.
We must admire Kumble’s work ethic, emulate his perseverance and marvel at his aggression. I haven’t heard him complain and he was left out of the one-day side too. He needs to be India’s vice-captain in Test matches and should be on the BCCI’s cricket committee now. He will give nothing less to it than he has given for India on the field.
In his 99th Test match, he has taken 10 wickets and is actually going through a purple patch just now. The leg break to get Samaraweera and the slow loopy spin that got Atapattu were brilliant deliveries and showed their possessor has a very keen inquisitive mind. That has been Kumble’s strength and it is something a younger generation, within sport and outside, could well emulate.
Now he approaches a magnificent hundred and I will be very interested in seeing how Indian cricket rewards this humble giant. But there will be respect in the home and away dressing room and after the fickleness of fame and prosperity have been dusted away that is what a performer wants to possess. Kumble will have it forever.
When he is through with the game every Indian cricket lover must stand up and applaud. Even if the system merely gives him an economy ticket back to Bangalore.

In Loksabha

LS to discuss Sourav Ganguly’s exclusion from team
Indo-Asian News Service
Kolkata, December 16, 2005

Amid raging controversy over Sourav Ganguly’s exclusion from the team, Lok Sabha will discuss the issue next week.
Responding to a submission by Mohan Singh (SP) that the issue should be added in the agenda for next week in the House, Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said: “I have allowed this to be added in the agenda. The issue will come up for discussion.”
He said that great “injustice” had been meted out to Ganguly, who is a great world class player, due to politics in the game.
“Such incidents will affect the morale of young players and we must take corrective measures,” he added.

Hindustan Times
Chappell’s views prompted selectors to drop Ganguly
Press Trust of India
New Delhi, December 16, 2005

The Selection Committee’s decision to sack Sourav Ganguly from the Test squad was understood to have been largely influenced by coach Greg Chappell’s views on team composition for the Ahmedabad match aided by those of captain Rahul Dravid.
Chappell was keen to give more opportunities to Yuvraj Singh who has been in very good form and the selectors decided to respect the views of the team management, a reliable Cricket Board source said on Friday.
The source said Chappell insisted on a regular place for Yuvraj in the playing eleven which made it difficult to accommodate Ganguly in the squad.
One of the selectors did support Ganguly’s retention in the team but his view was overwhelmed by that of others, the source said, disputing reports that the sack decision was unanimous.
Ganguly was dropped from the team for the third Test against Sri Lanka beginning in Ahmedabad on Sunday, a decision which has triggered off demonstrations in Kolkata and evoked strong reactions from former cricketers and politicans.
Apparently rattled by all-round criticism over the way the deposed captain was sacked and a sympathy wave created by it, top Cricket Board officials including President Sharad Pawar sought to wash their hands off by expressing shock over the decision and promising to discuss the issue with the selectors in the coming days.
The source claimed that no Cricket Board official had called up the selectors before the meeting or had put any pressure on the committee to drop Ganguly.
“There was no pressure on the selectors by Board officials. The decision to drop Ganguly was taken by the Committee and nobody had influenced it”, the source said.
“Since the team management was not keen to have Ganguly in the playing eleven, he could not be kept in the reserves. So he had to be omitted,” the source added.

I am not quitting: Sourav
Indo-Asian News Service
Kolkata, December 16, 2005
Former captain Sourav Ganguly says he will not quit but will work towards a comeback, even as an overwhelming 98 per cent opined in a West Bengal SMS poll that he was a victim of the BCCI’s politics.
Though he maintained a stoic silence all through Thursday as angry mob agitated outside his Behala house, blocked road and rail traffic, a city daily on Friday quoted Ganguly as saying: “There’s plenty of tough cricket coming up… I’m not quitting. I’ll be working towards a comeback.”
An SMS poll conducted by Bengali channel Star Ananda found 98 per cent viewers believed that Sourav was a victim of the politics of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Though touched by the moral support of the people of West Bengal and celebrities from the world of film, theatre, arts and business, Ganguly otherwise kept mum before the media.
He remained at home most of the time Thursday and participated in a prayer ceremony apart from meeting former BCCI chief Jagmohan Dalmiya.
Dalmiya has reportedly assured Sourav that the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) would back him to the hilt. Meanwhile, politicians from the state are planning to take up the issue in Parliament if their pleas to the BCCI failed to cut ice.
Communist Party of India (CPI) MP Gurudas Dasgupta said he would try to take up the matter in Parliament, though ideally it should be dealt with at the board level.

Decision against Ganguly unanimous and irreversible: Niranjan Shah, Secretary, BCCI
United News of India
Vadodara, December 16, 2005

Despite the mounting pressure, BCCI Secretary Niranjan Shah on Friday said the decision of the National Selection Committee to drop Sourav Ganguly from the Indian squad for the Ahmedabad Test against Sri Lanka was “unanimous” and thus “irreversible.”
Mr Shah, also convenor of the committee, said that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) would not like to interfere in the matter of selection of the Indian squad.
“BCCI President Sharad Pawar has already clarified that selection of players is the sole discretion of the selection committee,” he added.
On the agitation by Ganguly’s supporters and their demand for his recalling in the Indian squad, the BCCI Secretary said, “Selection is selection. If anybody interferes in the selection of players, there is no end to it.”
Describing as “unnecessary” the protests and demonstrations being held in Kolkata in support of Ganguly and against coach Greg Chappell and chief selector Kiran More, Mr Shah said this sort of agitation was not new in Indian cricket.
Moreover, Mr Shah said, it was the job of the selection committee to pick up the best team without showing any fear or favour.
Meanwhile, a local daily today quoted Kiran More to have said that “decision about Ganguly was taken unanimously at the selection committee meeting and…There was no pressure whatsoever from any of the board members on the committee.”
More also reportedly ruled out the possibility of any move on the part of the committee to recall Ganguly in the Indian team for the Ahmedabad Test.

Good win. But why was Sourav axed?
Pradeep Magazine
New Delhi, December 15, 2005
Call it irony or the politics of cricket. Immediately after Rahul Dravid named Sourav Ganguly, among others, as one of the contributors in India’s victory over Sri Lanka on Wednesday, the selectors announced the latter’s axing from the team.
They also announced Dravid as captain for next month’s tour to Pakistan and for the subsequent home series against England. An honour that Dravid deserves, given the imaginative and professional manner in which he has handled this team, especially in the aftermath of the Greg Chappell-Ganguly spat which was threatening to divide the team.
On the same dais from where Dravid and Anil Kumble, the major bowling star in the win, had addressed the press, sat chairman of the selection committee Kiran More and BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah — both Sharad Pawar men.
It is a sad reflection on Indian cricket that when Wasim Jaffer’s name was announced as Ganguly’s replacement, the first thing that struck most was that Jaffer is from Mumbai, the city to which Pawar belongs. The immensely talented Jaffer — he went to the West Indies and England but was never given an extended run — would hate to be seen as someone who is not there in his own right.
When a reporter asked whether the decision was based on vendetta, as the man replacing the Kolkatan (Jagmohan Dalmiya’s city) belongs to Pawar’s place, both More and Shah got upset.
Their reaction: “Don’t attribute such motives, this is not fair.” Immediately after, More and Shah walked out in a huff.
Though it is now almost impossible for Ganguly to make a comeback, he has not given up. “I’ll go back and play domestic cricket and try to fight my way back into the team,” he said.

Against the backdrop of Ganguly’s return for the first two Tests and the subsequent removal of the three selectors who were Dalmiya’s men, the obvious inference to draw would be that the new selection committee — all Pawar’s men — has evened the score.
Going by cold, cricketing logic the return of Jaffer makes sense — the new supremo of Indian cricket, Greg Chappell, had wanted a pool of openers for the tour of Pakistan.
That Yuvraj Singh is a special talent and deserves to play in the XI and that Mohammed Kaif cannot be kept waiting for eternity also mean Ganguly’s place was tenuous.
But if this was the line of thinking, why was Ganguly brought back in the first place?

And he may have not made huge scores at the Kotla, but his contribution to victory was not mean. His partnership with Sachin Tendulkar in the first innings and with Yuvraj in the second came at crucial stages.
Ganguly surely deserved another chance at Ahmedabad. That he was not given one raises a huge question mark over the way the BCCI and the selectors function.
Prasanna shocked
Kolkata: EAS Prasanna expressed shock and disappointment at the axing of Sourav Ganguly from the team, saying the stylish left-hander has been given a raw deal.”I am shocked. I don’t think he should have been treated like this. He performed quite well in the Delhi Test (against Sri Lanka). Dropping him from the third Test defies logic,” he said. “He has served Indian cricket for years. You can’t treat such a cricketer so shabbily.”
Prasanna said if the selectors were determined to drop Ganguly, they should have told him so frankly.
“To sum up, I feel that history has repeated itself. This is the manner in which we have been treating our heroes.” (PTI)

Ganguly should let his bat speak in Ranji: Gavaskar
Sudeshna Sarkar (IANS)
Kathmandu, December 16, 2005

Former Indian cricket captain Sunil Gavaskar said Sourav Ganguly should take things easy and show his class in the domestic matches to claim his place in the Indian squad.
“That’s cricket. I never had to face a situation where I was dropped … but you have to take the rough with the smooth,” said Gavaskar, whose world record for the highest number of Test centuries was last week bested by Sachin Tendulkar.
“Sometimes you score 0, sometimes 100. If the previous ball beat you, forget it and concentrate on the next ball. Sourav should win heaps of runs in the Ranji Trophy and make a statement,” he said.
Gavaskar said he experienced “a sense of relief” when Tendulkar went on to break the record. “It was a relief for Tendulkar as well,” he said.
“That century has been coming for quite a while. Records are meant to be broken. That’s a sign of human progress.”
That Tendulkar was a fellow Indian and had so of much talent was what made the joy all the more, said Gavaskar.
Gavaskar, currently in Nepal as a goodwill envoy to promote tourism, said the ideal way to promote cricket in the Himalayan kingdom would be to hold matches between the ‘A’ teams of Nepal and its SAARC cricket-playing neighbours - India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
“‘A’ teams are taken very seriously as they have two to three players from the senior teams and some have also played in the national teams,” he said.
The cricketing legend also met the members of the Nepalese under-19 cricket team and encouraged them.
Talking to reporters about his future plans, Gavaskar said he would like to open a cricket academy.
“I have some land in Mumbai, but there are some difficulties due to the conditions put by the government for sponsors.”
“Once that is smoothed out, I will start my academy,” he said.
The author of the best-selling autobiography “Sunny Days” said he was so busy meeting deadlines for his columns that he had not thought of producing a sequel to it.
Gavaskar brought down the house with his repartee replying to a query as to why he never wore a helmet even against the pace bowlers.
“I didn’t have anything to protect inside,” he said.