Sourav Ganguly is an embarrassment to the Indian team. The country simply
cannot afford to have a captain who is spoken of with little respect in the
cricket world. The Indian captain's relationship with Steve Waugh was well
documented in the media. While Ganguly was belligerent in his speech, his
achievements with bat did nothing to back up his words.
Ganguly took over as captain of the Indian side in the inaugural Test
against Bangladesh in November last year. In the first innings of that Test
Ganguly made 84. Since that Test match Ganguly has led India in two Tests
against Zimbabwe and three Tests against Australia at home and most
recently two Tests against Zimbabwe away. In the first Test against
Zimbabwe at home Ganguly notched up an unbeaten 65. After that it has been
all downhill. Since that innings of 65 not out, Ganguly's scores are as
follows: 30, 8, 1, 23, 48, 22, 4, 5, 9 and 0. A total of 150 runs at an
average of 15.00. Not what you might expect from the Indian captain and
a key batsman at that.
A closer look at the statistics is more damning. Of these dismissals,
Ganguly has been snuffed out an alarming 73% of the time by mediumpacers.
This, coming in at number six. It's not like the Indian skipper has to deal
with the quick men when they're fresh and using a new ball.
It's pretty clear that Ganguly is unable to handle anything above
mediumpace in the longer version of the game. Attacking fields, pressure
situations and the lack of restrictions on the use of the bouncer seem to
make life a bit difficult for the Indian captain. It's time he took a
break, some time away from the game to sort out these issues.
Remember the time Mark Taylor could not make a half century as captain of
Australia? Have we forgotten Nasser Hussain's miserable run of form with
the bat not so long ago as skipper of England? What happened in their
cases? The respective boards backed their players all the way and the
decision held them in good stead. The run of bad form ended and consistent
triumph in Tests was the result.
Look at Ganguly's record as a captain: Played eight, won five, lost two,
drawn one. This includes a one off Test win in Bangladesh after conceding
400 to the minnows in the first innings. This run boasts a 2-1 series win
over world champions Australia having lost the first Test in three
days. And yes, in search of the first series win outside the subcontinent
in 16 years, India began well, winning the first Test of a two Test series
in Zimbabwe. Unable to pull of a win in the second Test, India nevertheless
put on a good fight.
To say Ganguly was to blame for these losses is a touch unfair. It is said
that a captain is only as good as his team. With team selection continuing
to be contentious, with there being no steady opening pair, with no support
spinner for Harbhajan Singh, how can Ganguly be expected to win every match
he leads India in?
Another adage that holds true in Ganguly's case is the one talking about
form: 'Form is temporary, class is permanent.' There's little doubt that
Ganguly is a top class player. And yes, just supposing Ganguly steps down,
who will lead India? Is there a better man? Ganguly is too important to
this side, he simply cannot be replaced in the Indian team.