Skip~~ping Ganguly for Skipper? Why?

Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2007, 3:35 [IST]
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Ganguly and TendulkarIn India, in the realm of cricket, there"s always a buzz. Sensational sometimes, over hyped at others and sometimes, just plain run of the mill. The current issue and concern for the Board of Control for Cricket in India, is the appointment of the captain, for the longest and most original format of the game – Test Cricket. At first there was no argument and the BCCI thought Sachin Tendulkar would be the best bet.

Most accept that Sachin is GOD, but honestly as a captain he never impressed. Be it the pressure of leading the side, or just sheer lack mobilizing his forces, as captain he was no huge success. But then again the BCCI have their ways of thinking and as improbable and illogical as their decisions sound, the fact is that they rule Indian Cricket. Depressing? Mostly, but one must make the most of the situation that one is in and the sudden realization that cricket must sport a professional get up, makes the BCCI that much less of a toothless organization.

Back to the argument (we must create one) of who should be Test captain and one name that is surprisingly not doing the rounds is that of Sourav Ganguly. In recent times, he has been the best leader that the team could ask for. Not only do the statistics prove this point, as a cricket lover and observer one would have noticed the sense of purpose and the sheer live wire effect that skipper Ganguly had on the boys on the field. You must remember we are not talking of what happens off the field!! There was this innate aggression that the Captain radiated, and it had a super effect as most of the team members imbibed the same. What resulted were spirited performances and the spectators loved it. As captain, Sourav has led the team 49 times in Tests and at a decent average of 37.66 as a batter. He"s scored 5 tonnes and 13 half centuries during his reign as captain, and in all has amassed 2561 runs. Now, comes the crucial point of results, in 21 home matches and 28 away matches, the team has won 21 times, drawn 15 times and lost 13 times under Sourav Ganguly.

Now compare this to the BCCI"s favourite candidate – Sachin Tendulkar. On the batting front, in lesser number of matches he has been the better of the two, averaging – 51.35 and scoring 7 each of hundreds and fifties . He has amassed 2054 Test runs as captain in the 25 matches that he has led the country. But the win loss ratio is better for Sourav Ganguly .Statistics show that Sachin has won only 4 matches as skipper and lost 9, drawing 12! One need not state the obvious, but when it comes to being captain, how much you win matters most. Yes, ofcourse the captain is nothing without the team, but he does play a role of keeping the boys totally focused, and that"s where Sourav scores high. As mentioned earlier his enthusiasm was infectious. He represented raw zeal and that one image of him giving into the moment one memorable day at Lord"s will remain etched in the minds of millions.

The other significant point worth mentioning here is the way captaincy ended for both Sourav and Sachin. In Sachin"s case, he opted out of the role, for various reasons. In brief, he could not take the pressure or felt that it affected his batting and wanted to concentrate on that role more. Whatever the real reason, or combination of reasons, for the record, Sachin Tendulkar quit captaincy. And now when only a week ago he seemed to have said yes to Test captaincy after 7 long years, he has once again declined the offer, saying that he does not feel ready for it and a younger man should lead! Great, so once again Tendulkar has moved away from the immense pressure of being captain of India. In life sometimes, actually most often we are never really ready for roles but have to play them. Winners accept the challenge and others move away. But that"s another issue.

In Sourav Ganguly"s case, as we all know he was unceremoniously relieved of being Captain and also of being part of the team. Many argued that he was not performing on the field with the bat, but no one can question his abilities as a leader! But the point one is making here, is that Ganguly relished being captain and his commendable cricketing brain saw him succeed in that role largely. But how many noticed? How many agree?

In the present moment, one captain will be chosen tomorrow. It could be a person no one gave much thought to earlier, Anil Kumble, or it could just be extended to the present one day captain MS Dhoni. If youth and the future is what the board is looking towards, then obviously the case for the young man is strong. He should be given charge, even though it"s a tad early in his Test career. If one was to measure his level of captaincy in both the shorter versions of the game, the one thing that came out clear, was his level of enjoyment. He, like Sourav seems to revel in the fact that he"s the leader. A good man manager, the boys seem like a collective whole and the surge of freshness and youth, all augur well for the young captain. So, ideally if Sourav Ganguly is not even being considered, then Dhoni should play the role.

But the BCCI is predictably unpredictable. Often there seems no method to their madness. Who knows? Tomorrow a totally new name may crop up and be crowned Test captain of India. Time will tell. But if we are looking ahead, then let's extend premature congratulations to that 'Rockstar of Ranchi' – Mahendra Singh Dhoni. And if we are looking for an old hand, then here"s a plea to the BCCI – Please keep the faith, you have a Sourav Ganguly waiting on the sideline!


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