Make Dravid or Sehwag skipper!!!
Anybody who hadn't seen a fish out of water had
only to watch Sourav Ganguly batting in the
Bangalore Test against Pakistan to get a
perspective. He looked battered, bewildered and
totally out of depth during his short stint at the
crease. The body language was that of the
vanquished, not one supposedly on top of the
situation. The uncharitable believed that he hung
on for so long at the crease even after being
bowled, only to ensure that the endorsement on his
bat got at least some television air-time!
The Ganguly of recent vintage is a pale shadow of
the free-stroking, flowing batsman of yesteryears.
The last thing he inspires at the crease is
confidence. You don't need to look far for the
reason. He has not scored a Test century since
2003. During the same period rival skipper
Inzamam-ul-Haq has made four centuries. This is the
same number that other skippers, Brian Lara
(including the world record 400 not out), Michael
Vaughan and Graeme Smith have notched up. The Ricky
Pontings, Marvan Atapattus, Stephen Flemings and
even Tatenda Taibus have all clobbered Test
centuries during the period. Only Ganguly, of late,
has not looked the part of a Test batsman.
Ganguly returns to the
pavilion after being
dismissed in the second
innings of the Bangalore
Test against Pakistan
obvious that Ganguly, once a top-notch batsman, has
lost the nerve to battle in extreme situations. The
short-pitched bouncer aimed at his rib-cage and
throat has always been his bugbear. When high on
confidence, he overcame this line of attack with
either some short-arm pulls or deft ducking. But at
other times he has looked horrendous against these
deliveries. They play so much on his mind that he
ends up playing ridiculous strokes against other
In 1999, during the World Cup, Shoaib Akhtar did
not miss an opportunity to mock him. He would point
at Ganguly's upper rib-cage area and state that he
was going for that spot! Ganguly was clearly
squirming during that edition.
It was during the era of the great West Indian fast
bowlers of the 1970s and 80s that the West Indies
skipper Clive Lloyd specialized in mind-games to
soften up the rivals' skipper. The belief was that
if the man at the top crumbled, the rest of the
rudderless opposition would follow. His demonic
fast bowlers unleashed a barrage of bouncers which
bordered on bodyline tactics and soon had some of
the finest rival skippers, Greg Chappell, Kim
Hughes, Tony Greig, Ian Botham, et al on the mat.
Every one of their teams crumbled after the skipper
was sorted out.
Today Ganguly is in the same boat. Teams have
repeatedly targeted him to such an extent that his
confidence is shot to pieces. It has reached a
stage that captaincy seems a burden, especially
when batting. In crunch situations he does not have
the luxury of a calm and uncluttered head.
Consequently his moves on the field are illogical
and let down the team.
Ganguly has got away with a lot of goof-ups only
because others with steel, Rahul Dravid, Virendra
Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar were scoring runs and
Anil Kumble and company were picking up wickets.
But it was the times they did not that his
leadership qualities were desperately needed. More
often than not, he turned tail and that spelt the
side's doom. In fact his occasional sitting out,
like in Pakistan, worked to the Indian team's
In Bangalore, the manner in which Inzamam-ul-Haq
handled his part-time bowlers and destroyed the
Indian batting line-up clearly exposed Ganguly's
limitations as a skipper. That an inexperienced
Pakistan outfit could pull the rug from underneath
the feet of a richly experienced Indian team was a
reflection of the poor captaincy of Ganguly.
The Indian captain was at his worst on the fourth
day. When the Pakistanis were going for runs, he
looked lost. Instead of his main bowlers, he looked
to part-timer Tendulkar to stem the follow of runs.
For long moments, he illogically maintained
attacking fields and gave away too many runs too
easily to help the Pakistanis come up with their
challenging declaration. The Bangalore Test saw the
disintegration of the Indian team and its tactics
and for this the clueless skipper must take all the
So, has the time come to bid goodbye to Ganguly?
The only answer to this is an emphatic YES. Every
single person, including the juniors, is aware that
when the chips are down he is not the person to
turn to. He might still come up with a sterling
knock, like he did at Brisbane in December 2003.
But the fact is that these are so few and far in
between that they do not justify his place in the
team. The other batsmen are clearly feeling the
pressure of playing with a lame duck batsman in the
line-up and that is not good for the team.
It is true that Ganguly has done quite well as
captain. It is obvious that though he has brought
the team this far, he is not capable of taking it
further. For India to progress from here they need
a better man at the helm. If it is a short-term
solution they seek then either Kumble or Dravid
should be elevated. In the long run, the captaincy
should go to either Sehwag or Mohammed Kaif. In any
scenario, Ganguly must go and NOW!