New Delhi: Saurav Ganguly found an unexpected support from West Indian great Sir Clive Lloyd who felt the Indian skipper was 'maturing' as captain and should be given a long stint.
"Captaincy is not easy. You don't become a great captain in just a couple of years. I think Ganguly is improving, getting better as captain," Lloyd, himself the most successful captain of West Indies, said at a function on Friday. "Ganguly is maturing. He has the team behind him. And with a few good scores he is coming back into his own as a batsman. You have to give more time to Saurav. "And besides, a captain is only as good as his team," he said. Lloyd said India had a fine nucleus for a great team with some very talented players but must find a reliable opening pair and a good wicket-keeper who can bat reasonably well. "A good opening pair, a good wicketkeeper and probably one or two more quality bowlers... India must find them ... and it would be a truly great side."
Lloyd also wanted India to do away with its over dependence on Sachin Tendulkar. "One man does not make a team," he said while dismissing criticism that Tendulkar has not been able to win many matches for the country. "Why should only Sachin make runs? What about others? "India must realise that it has to be a collective effort. When others do their stuff, Sachin can play more freely and would be able to win more matches. He is a wonderful cricketer. If he stays long enough all the records are open for him," he said. Lloyd was lavish in his praise for vice-captain Rahul Dravid too. "He is a top-class player. The ideal number three. "If you don't have two good openers, someone to give you a good start, and a good number three, then you tend to go straight into the middle order.
Dravid is doing extremely well at number three but you have to find good openers too." Asked whether it was wise to keep champion leg spinner Anil Kumble out of the second and third Test, Lloyd said, "It happens. Kumble is still a top class bowler. But you are dictated by situations. Sometimes you have to make a choice where you have to take one or the other." Lloyd dismissed the suggestion that the Indians were unable to handle the rising ball. "I know some who handled it quite well. Dilip Vengsarkar, Sunil Gavaskar... Even the present Indian team is doing quite well in West Indies.
But of course West Indies doesn't have devastating fast bowlers today. "The wickets in the West Indies have deteriorated and that is probably the major reason for the decline in standards of fast bowling," he said. Lloyd, who led West Indies to two successive World Cup triumphs in 1975 and 1979, was obviously not happy with the state of West Indian cricket today. "No one can be happy. We lost a number of great players and the younger players have not been able to fill the void. We just keep hoping that we come out of this trough but it is not happening."