View from the stands

Written by: Sajith Balakrishnan
Published: Tuesday, March 29, 2005, 14:13 [IST]
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It's said that change is the instrument of progress. It's high time that the five wise men, who call the shots as far as Indian selection is concerned, paid heed to this dictum. How long can India carry on with a non-playing captain who delivers once in a blue moon? After seeing the abject surrender of the Indians at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore against the archrivals Pakistan, one gets the feeling that time has come to do away with India's most successful Test captain of all time.

Perhaps, it won't be a bad idea to go the old Australian way of having one captain for Tests and another for the abridged version of the game. England too tried it for a while with reasonable success. Considering the fact that Ganguly's track record in One-day matches is pretty good, he can stay on at the helm, but not in Tests where he is going from bad to worse. It just can't be attributed to a lean patch because Ganguly seems to be totally lost. It looks as though he is concerned about his batting while captaining and vice-versa.

The umpteen number of times that the Indian skipper was booed and the numerous chants of "Dravid Zindabad" by a section of the vociferous Chinnaswamy crowd which had thronged in large numbers to see a possible Indian victory or at least a draw is a clear indication of the things in store. There is no point in carrying on with a captain who fails to learn from his past mistakes.

Missing from his arsenal are those rasping cover-drives and those stylish cut shots that used to send the crowd into rhapsodies. Instead, what we get to see now is the pitiable sight of him being booed everywhere he plays, be it from the galleries of his home turf Eden or by the otherwise famed sporting crowd at Bangalore.

He should be made to feel that nobody is indispensable from the team and that nobody could reserve a lifetime membership in the team based on the past exploits. Ganguly has been increasingly proving to be a liability as a batsman in the Test team and a hindrance for fringe players who have been knocking the doors of selectors for a while.

Though it is said that attack is the best mode of defence, India didn't think so and it lead to their downfall on day five of the Bangalore Test. Right from the start, they played with a defensive mindset, especially after Sehwag's dismissal and they could never come out of that shackles for which they had to pay a hefty price.

Players who are past their prime and playing for personal milestones made the matters worse despite getting plenty of accolades from the crowd . As far as seasoned campaigners with decades of experience are concerned, it was a familiar sight of them perishing after promising much.

For the two captains, it was a different story. While Inzamam basked in the glory of victory in his 100th Test, that was made all the more memorable by a century-knock, for the home team captain knives are out as the crown seems to be slipping slowly from him. Luckily for Ganguly, there are no Test matches in the imminent future.

Tailpiece: Spending a day amongst the crowd for a high voltage Indo-Pak match is a wonderful experience. Being a web-journalist, yours truly didn't have the privilege to be seated in the hallowed press box that is reserved for the elite club. However one should be seated amidst the cheaper seats for it's here that one could gauge the real passion for the game. You can find everything here. Gone are the days of "war minus shooting" spectacle. They have been replaced by a whiff of fresh air and bonhomie. Being an Indo-Pak game, one could feel the patriotic heat, but it's all over once the game is done.

Viewing habits have also come in for a lot of change. One gets the feeling that these days people come more 'to be seen than to see'. Television and big screen has changed the crowd behavior enormously. The sight of crowd trying to catch the attention of camera crew with all colours painted on their face at times looked pathetic. But that's the way it goes now.

Television has marketed the game well. Every human being is entitled to fifteen seconds of fame. Every tiny little child is aiming for it. What better option other than coming to watch an Indo-Pak match with banners, flags and all other paraphernalia. Ask Noor Hussain who bowled out Zaheer Khan and millions with those 15 seconds of fame that she acquired when her frame appeared on the TV!

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