India must learn to respect its heroes

Nobody can take away Ganguly's record or the esteem in which he is held worldwide, writes Arjuna Ran

It was an expected end to the series, if not for two superstars who seem swamped by the inexorable march of time. Both are left-handers and one-day openers and were lynchpins of the side not very long ago. They want to rework the magic but none including the selectors, seems sure.

One of them is of course Sourav Ganguly who was not seen in the one-dayers at all and is uninvited for the first three games against South Africa. His exclusion and the manner of it is unbecoming on the part of Indian cricket officialdom.

I wonder if he has received any phone call from selectors, captain or coach; or even seniors like Tendulkars and Sehwags.

It is one thing to believe that he does not have anything to offer, it is quite another to act as if he was just an illusion all these years.

Wish as anyone might, nobody can take away his record or the esteem in which he is held worldwide. India must learn to respect its heroes lest they look like pirates who can only destroy a legacy. I have no doubt India has moved forward. But progress is a constant journey where many variables keep coming up at odd hours and turns.

India still needs to be assured if these youngsters have the stamina and the equanimity to keep building on their impressive starts.

Double-edged weapon

Success is a double-edged weapon, it could take the hunger out of the system, imprison you in the image which media and masses configure and shift focus as commerce seeks an alignment.

Seniors could play a stabilising influence and Ganguly could play a bigger role than just being held up for being a slow mover and runner between the wickets.

It annoys me when every cricketer is being strait- jacketed. I wonder if Ganguly is slower than an Inzamam between the wickets or if Sehwag is swifter in the field. Great cricketers have a way of making up for their deficiency. If Ganguly is slow, he also has a temperament which not everyone possesses.

Much required

It would be much required when Indians travel abroad. New conditions and opponents away from home could strip you of the support of familiar surroundings. Youngsters could be like fish out of pond and that is where you would need men like Ganguly to be in scheme of things. He could also play your fourth or fifth seamer, with keeper standing up to the wicket, he would be useful in the West Indies. Man-management is also about maximising the potential of a cricketer.

As for the other superstar, it was only logical to keep Sanath Jayasuriya out of the mix in Baroda after the doors of Tests were closed on him.

Besides, if the official line was injury, Jayasuriya could not have been suddenly fit in Baroda! It closed curtains on him for the series and has put his one-day career on line. I wonder if the Indian fans have seen the last of Matera Marauder on their soil.

In hindsight, Jayasuriya could have done a couple of things differently. The first one was to take a call on coming at all for the tour after he suffered a freak shoulder injury. It did not give him a presence in the field as a fielder and bowler and affected his rhythm at the crease.

The second one was to resist the change to come in the middle order. Even when I was around, he was not very amenable to coming down the order. Probably somebody should have taken a call on his behalf within the team.

Better still, the selector who was travelling with the team should have stepped in and cushioned the blow. They have acted as shrinking violets and in the mistaken notion of helping, have only put his career on line.

The coming months are not only important for Sri Lanka but also for India. India could face stiffer opposition in Pakistan or against England. In next three months, things could change as quickly as they have for Sri Lanka. In this hour of success, it would only help if India could look at the potential areas of disruption. Prevention is still better than cure. Sri Lanka, in ignoring it, is a good case study. — PTI

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