Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Ganguly....a great leader ?

Javagal Srinath - December 12, 2003

There is at least one thing that one should accept on the eve of the second India-Australia Test match beginning at the Adelaide Oval on Friday. India's skipper Sourav Ganguly has matured into a great captain. The record book suggests that a few more wins will take him past Mohammed Azharuddin, the most successful captain in Indian cricket.
Termed an arrogant leader, Sourav has withstood severe tests
, including the difficult series of South Africa twice and the World Cup, also in South Africa. I can tell you with my experience that it is never easy to remain captain for so long, that too in a country like ours with garrulous people managing, talking, writing and following the game in huge numbers.
It raised many eyebrows even among the players when Sourav took over the reigns from Sachin Tendulkar. The only way he could prove that he was more than just a blue-eyed boy of the Board of Control for Cricket in India was not only to score runs, but also to produce positive results. He has succeeded in both.
I had the chance to see his career mature right through from a young, ignorant player to a responsible leader. We toured Australia together in 1991, where the media crucified him for his attitude and even some of the senior players found it difficult to accept what they thought was his naivete. He was confined to the drinks trolley except for a chance to play a one-dayer at the 'Gabba (where we recently watched his majestic hundred). By the end of the tour it was clear that he was not the favourite of many in the side.
It took him another five years of scoring heavily and consistently in the domestic circuit to get the selectors' nod again and come back into the side. But it took some more time to shed the tag of arrogant and indifferent man that he had been stuck with on the 1991 tour.
He returned to the national team for the 1996 tour of England a completely changed man. The first and foremost thing was to show his ability to score runs in the preliminary games. The team management acknowledged his form and inducted him into the second Test at Lord's. A century on debut, that too at the mecca of world cricket, saw Sourav's resurrection. From then on, there has been no turning back for this Bengali lad.
Remaining outside the national team for five long years perhaps made Ganguly think and realise what the outside world meant to him. The commitment of the lethargically effective cricketer was questioned from time to time in different quarters, but he always answered them with the willow at the right time.
It wasn't an easy choice for the team to get a foreign coach. But when the time was ripe, Sourav played his cards very well to get the coach, who was then an absolute necessity. The turnaround after the first two games in the World Cup was ample evidence of his good captaincy. He realises and acknowledges that he has to get the best results out of his teammates and the decisions he makes are the outcome of a consensus. He must be greatly indebted to the seniors around him who have helped him to reach a level where he is not too far from becoming the best captain Indian has produced.
Sourav's best quality is that he has the ability to remain unperturbed even when he faces severe criticism or becomes the target of highly personal and derogatory remarks.


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