IPL: Sourav Ganguly should join politics

The IPL is still called the Indian Premier League but this time around it will be conducted in South Africa – thanks to those terrorists in the sub continent. At the outset, I would like to appreciate Mr. Lalit Modi’s proactiveness and immediate actions to move this edition of IPL out of the country as there’s been political issues over the security in this country. By taking such a bold decision on a short term basis saved the franchise’ and several international players’ interest. After all, this year probably will be Modi’s last chance to prove that IPL and Twenty 20 success can be carried forward further as his @$$ is on fire after loosing in the Rajasthan Cricket Board elections.

Ganguly plays politics again

When Rahul Dravid lost captaincy of the Indian team or even most recently that of the Bangalore Royal Challengers nothing really happened in Bangalore or Karnataka. But the case is different when Sourav Ganguly is stripped off power. The ever innovative (and sometimes lunatic) John Buchanan, the team coach of the Kolkata Knight Riders, suddenly had an enlightenment that his Twenty 20 team needs three or four captains this time. This is mainly to ensure that just in case Sourav Ganguly didn’t figure in the scheme of things, he needed somebody else to lead the team. As usual Dada didn’t take it quite well. Just like the times when he was dropped from the Indian team, he played all his ‘hinting’ statements in the press that he is unhappy. Finally Mr. Shah Rukh Khan, the team owner, got involved and he ensured Dada’s crazy followers that Dada will be consulted on the captaincy issue. According to Buchanan he was already consulted.

The following are my views on this issue:-

. If Buchanan and Shah Rukh Khan didn’t want Ganguly in this edition of IPL, they should have told him that directly and dropped him rather than coming up with this ‘Panel of Captains’ theory.

. Not just Ganguly but even people like Rahul Dravid should stop playing Twenty 20 cricket as this version is not meant for people in their late 30s.

. Dada has not been playing competitive cricket for quite sometime now that he will be a burden to the team.

. Ganguly may stop playing politics and if he wants to do so he should actually join Indian politics as he has been a shrewd thinker off and on the field.

. Shah Rukh Khan should stop behaving diplomatically if he really wants his team to win. The contracts apart, the Twenty 20 format is so dynamic that, today’s hero is nobody in a few months time.

Fortunately, Buchanan was much more diplomatic and composed than Greg Chappell and hence he’s still with the team.

Looking forward to the IPL

I am really looking forward to this edition of IPL mainly due to the quality of pitches and grounds in South Africa. Moreover, these bouncy tracks will definitely prove too good for many Indian heroes but I expect a couple of adaptable youngsters to emerge to replace some of the old faces in the current Indian ODI and test teams. Though it’s a fast and short format, those who can play in bouncy pitches can be easily spotted and picked!

Let’s wait and see how it goes.

Good Bye Dada and Jumbo!

Kumble and Ganguly have called it quits! Two extremely different personalities with altogether different skills but had one thing in common between them – The never ending fighting spirit. The way they showed their spirit were different as well. Ganguly was more outspoken, aggressive and controversial where as Kumble was a typical soft spoken and diplomatic Bangalorean.

Kumble and Ganguly, along with three other stalwarts of Indian cricket formed the so-called Fab 5 that redefined Indian cricket and marched along into an era of professional cricket that showcased exceptional talent. This, according to me, was the transition phase whereby the Indian cricket rediscovered its winning ways. Before that period, barring the Prudential World Cup win in 1983, the Indian cricket was all about less agressive tactics and test cricket always had a draw oriented approach.

Anil Kumble

Anil Kumble, according to me, is well up there along with Murali and Warne as the finest spinner of modern cricket. When I say ‘finest’ it may not always mean the quality of spin but the altogether package of getting the work done! To be frank, I never enjoyed watching Kumble bowl – neither his action and run-up nor his poor athleticism and bad fielding. However, the never ending fighting spirit and patiencez is what anyone would fall for! 600 plus wickets in test cricket in twenty years is nothing but exceptional!

However, when I look back I still have the opinion that Kumble should have retired an year ago instead of taking up the captaincy. The reason was that since he took over the captaincy his bowling steadily deteriorated. Also, he was becoming something that is not ‘him’ as he put an artificial aggression around him during this period which was a major requirement for modern cricket captains. Other than this, I thought Kumble is/was as important as Sachin Tendulkar to Indian cricket though the fans almost always adore ONLY the batsmen here!

Saurav Ganguly

Whenever I think about Saurav Ganguly, I always wondered how he managed to play 100+ tests! Because, here is somebody, who was an accidental captain and more or less a One-day cricketer with limited technical abilities. But he became everything of Indian cricket, especially post 2000! There is no doubt that Saurav was a great fighter, but unless it was for his inclusion in the team as captain, there was no way he could have played 100 test matches for India – especially in a batting team comprising of Sachin, Rahul, VVS, Sehwag etc. I thought he played his role in Indian cricket extremely well, probably until the controversial exit, a couple of years back. But again, only Ganguly could have come up with the kind of resurgence – like a phoenix – that we saw in the past one year.

I would still call Saurav, one of the finest one-day cricketers and a good leader. At the same time he was a good politician and manipulator as well. He always knew what power, tactics and skills it takes to sustain the politically ruined (at least until a couple of years back) BCCI. And needless to say, he was the one who really took the fight on the opposition – including the off-field attacks. How many times has he got on to the nerves of Aussies?

Kudos to Ganguly and Kumble for whatever you have done to the World Cricket!

Question to the readers: What are the typical careers that these two could take up post their retirement?

When do they learn to bow out gracefully?

Last week Sourav Ganguly made some controversial statements at the press complaining of bad treatment by the selectors and criticizing about the lack of planning! Yesterday, Anil Kumble, in his news paper column, lashed out at the Indian media for speculating about his retirement and shoulder injury.

These two stalwarts have certainly contributed heavily to Indian cricket in the past. Now the time has come for them to retire gracefully. Instead of calling it a day with pride, they are not able to come to terms with the fact that all their fame and steady income will be suddenly stopped now! And this is the curse of not only the Indian cricket but all other professions and careers in India as well. Even our politicians and actors just won’t quit until defeated in the poll or kicked out!

The game of Cricket is changing really fast! The focus now is shifting to packed Twenty 20 leagues and club cricket. There has been a time when the cricketers had careers lasting up to 18 or 20 years but that won’t be case any longer. Kumble and Ganguly should be happy that they could play for India for such a long time, create a few records and even captain the Indian team! What else is left to prove for them?

‘Just retire gracefully’ and ‘stop blabbering in the press!’ Remember, you are still playing for India and if you want your contributions to be remembered for ever, stop creating unwanted controversies!

PS:- If Kumble doesn’t realize yet, he was so pathetic in the first test match and hasn’t been having a good time for the past few matches as well. Another thing, the next test in the Ind-Aus series is being played at Mohali which is a fast pitch. Ideally, India should have played three pacers and a spinner there and Kumble’s presence would make the team selection for this test very interesting! I hope they don’t loose out in this match due to imbalance in bowling attack.

Way forward for the Fab 4 and the Spin legend…

After witnessing the dismal performances of India’s fabulous 4 and the legendary spinner & captain, I am forced to write that it is time for them to call it a day. Instead of facing axe from the BCCI selectors and getting booed by the public, they should take a decision on their own.

Assessment of the current test team

As I expressed in an earlier post in this blog, they had a chance to rotate these four batsmen to make sure that only two or three of them play in a single match. This would have given opportunity to a budding test cricketer to try his skills and take the challenge along with the experienced. By not doing so, Mr. Kumble (who himself need to be rotated) and co underlines that all oldies will play together until they are chucked out. Reminds me of the Saurav Ganguly era of leadership.

Suggested Roadmap for India’s test team

  • Kumble can be given another test series to help experiment with youngsters and retire himself
  • Rahul Dravid needs to announce his retirement soon after this series as he has nothing more to prove. Rahul has been the main batsman in the middle order for quite some years now and has scored above 10,000 runs each in both versions of the game. It is right time for him to retire!
  • Saurav Ganguly has to retire himself or removed from the squad immediately
  • VVS Laxman may be given a chance to play up in the order for another series and see if he can do better. During the Ganguly era and post that as well, he was always ill-treated with selection as well as batting order experiments
  • Sachin Tendulkar can be given another test match or two to retire gracefully after breaking Brian Lara’s record. There’s no point in persisting with the god forever as in any case Ricky Ponting will over take him in another year or two and Sachin cannot race against time!
  • Both Sachin and Laxman should be given the task of inducting the youngsters into the test mindset over the next couple of months.

The Indian test team has to undergo a major change – mainly in the batting department and I am convinced that heroes like Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni have nothing to do as test batsmen. Of course, Dhoni figures in the scheme of things as a wicket keeper batsman and as a captain. Unfortunately, the selectors and the current captain could not manage the transition in a phasewise manner as they were either afraid of the fans’ reaction back home or were worried about their own place! But if they don’t do it in a fitting manner, it is going to hurt forever – something like the West Indies team went through, when all their great bowlers retired together and then the batsmen, leaving the team in tatters.