Thursday, December 15, 2005

Gentleman No More

There used to be a certain gentleman in the early 1990s who'd cause the entire nation to cringe when he walked out to bat in an ODI. His strike-rate in those days hovered in the mid 60s. He was a certain exclusion in any Rest-of-the-World ODI team of the time, despite being an equally certain inclsuion in a similar Test team. However, despite an absymal strike-rate, in spite of having a reputation of being one of the worst ODI finishers in the game - he was persevered with. His captain even increased his utility to the side by forcing the wicket-keeper's job on him - which, coincidentally, seemed to bring out the ODI batsman in him.

Its fairly obvious who I am talking about: Mr. No-Controversy, Mr. Loved-By-All, The Wall - Rahul Dravid, current captain of the Indian cricket team. Who was one of the 7 people who participated in the unanimous - UNANIMOUS - vote to drop a certain Mr. Sourav Ganguly, who, incidentally, was the captain mentioned in the above paragraph.

Let's face it: before Ganguly injected the team with his own brand of macho jingoism, the Indian cricket team was a bunch of losers. Oh yeah, I know that there were some great, match-winning innings from SRT, Azhar, Jadeja and Ganguly himself. But the general perception of Team India then was that of a meek, ready-to-be-licked outfit who would put their tails between their legs meekly and capitulate at even a brief sign of resistance. As for sledging - well, it was against 'Indian culture', you see.

Remember a certain Mr. Javed Miandad hopping like a fat toad, pointing his bat at the cowering Kiran More (the mouthpiece of the current bunch of selectors who have dumped Ganguly like a hot potato)? The captain, Azhar, looked very upset and at a loss for words. Nobody even walked over to Javed and said 'Enough done, mate!'. Instead, they made a complaint to the umpire (perhaps a petulant 'Sir, he is making fun of me!!' ) !! Well, I, for one, would certainly like to have seen Javed try it against the current Indian team; he'd never have tried it again !!

All this changed once the Maharaja took over the mantle of captaincy. The Indian team acquired a sudden toughness - one that certainly suprised the Aussies during their legendary Down Under tour. SG revelled in, and exemplified his team's new-found machismo, the best instance of which perhaps occured in the famous Natwest Trophy final at Lords - the sight of a bare-chested Ganguly jumping up and down in jubiliation is hard to forget. This famous win was engineered by powerful knocks from Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif, two of the many youngsters whose causes Ganguly advocated. Isn't it ironical that today, Ganguly finds himself on the sidelines chiefly due to Yuvraj's claims to a Test berth ?

During Ganguly's entire tenure as captain, Dravid was the reliable deputy. Indeed, by now Dravid had become a competent ODI batsman, though sheer aggression seemed to be beyond him even then (this seems to have been added to his arsenal only recently). It'd not be incorrect to say that Ganguly owed much of his great win-record to Dravid's contribution with the bat.

Which is why Dravid's complicity in this whole affair is downright disgusting. As one of the world's greatest players and the current captain, his suggestions would indeed have carried weight with the selectors. The least - the absolute minimum - that the most successful captain of India deserved was a graceful exit, and Rahul Dravid, despite knowing that he is not beyond facing a similar situation, chose to remain reticent. In fact, he chose to be an accomplice in this whole farce - whether it be to enjoy an unrivalled incumbency, or to cozy up to Greg Chappell (supposedly, the latest 'Messiah of Indian Cricket'), the dice has been cast.

Et tu, Rahul Dravid ?


Anonymous said...

hey buddy,

ganguly made his contribution and he got amply rewarded. past couple of years he's been a liability. he was in the team only because he was captain. He's not the captain now so he gest thrown out. whats everybody (ok the communists) complaining abt?

Ranjit Nair said...

Anon, I agree that perhaps he is a liability in the Test team - then don't pick him at all !! Picking him, and then dropping him, especially when he does make a decent contribution to the game, reeks of partiality and hypocrisy. As for protests being limited to the Commies, well, our former Indian cricketers, Harsha Bhogle and Prem Panicker arent exactly card-holding members of the Communist party.