Ganguly must be given the credit for making useful contributions since his return, writes W.V. Raman
The new selection committee under Krish Srikkanth has put an end to all the speculation churned out by the press with regard to the status of the senior players. Selection policies will be subjective and as such the decision of the selection committee can be perceived in several angles.
The senior players have been getting a lot of attention in the press recently and the suggestion of a VRS option for the accomplished players added to their resentment.
The senior players are banking on their professional and personal pride to take them through a situation that has been created and kept churning by the press. They have withstood a lot of pressure over the years and come out on top on several occasions. Hence it will be more of a hope to think that they will surrender easily and approach the BCCI for a VRS option.
First of all, it has to be understood that cricketers are picked based on their performances and regardless of their tenure in international cricket they need to deliver the goods. The senior players in the current Indian team are aware of their position and they will be keen on retaining their places on performance rather than on past glory.
No fixed norm
Secondly, in cricket, there is no fixed norm when it comes to retirement and besides, retirement is not always planned by cricketers as they are not aware of when they might lose the fizz.
Of course, there are exceptions like Sunny Gavaskar who went out on his own terms but by and large, cricketers retire only when their mind snaps as it becomes impossible to continue once that happens. The snapping of the mind is totally oblivious to age and form. Ganguly has been in the limelight more than the others after he was dropped from the Rest of India side but as far as I am concerned he has been the same as a cricketer.
It is only that the different selection committees have found it difficult to assess Ganguly in a consistent manner.
His comeback during the South African series prior to the World Cup was hailed as the greatest in Indian cricket history but to be honest his return had a lot to do with his experience than outstanding performances.
Of course, he must be given the credit for making useful contributions since his return until he failed in Sri Lanka. Ganguly’s lack of agility and athleticism on the field is highlighted very frequently but it is a known fact that the former skipper was never on par with Jonty Rhodes.
Furthermore, his agility has been the same even when he was carving a niche for himself as the skipper of Team India. The one mistake that Ganguly probably did was not specialising as a close-in fielder. As there is tendency to try and suggest that we follow the Australian way in cricket, they were faced with the same situation and criticised for carrying a lot of older players in the 1999 World Cup.
Time to prove
They silenced the critics by winning the World Cup and now it is the time for the elderly statesmen of the Indian team to prove a point or two.
If at all the fab four and Kumble wanted some needling prior to a big series, they have been subjected to a large dose of it in recent months. So it will be interesting to see how they respond not only to the team’s needs but also to hold on to their stature in the forthcoming series.
The senior players would have in the back of their minds that Steve Waugh who is often cited when it comes to a graceful exit, waged a battle against the selectors for well over a year.