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Sight Screen

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Raise a toast

The one feel-good story I have seen in a long time is this, on Cricinfo, about Sourav's return to the ranks.
What happened inside the nets though was merely incidental. Every eye was trained on Greg Chappell and Rahul Dravid, and how they would react to the prodigal son's return. Dravid was first to have a chat, and then Ganguly spent five minutes behind the nets having a tête-à-tête with Chappell. There was no sign of rancour, just two professionals getting on with the job at hand.
After his own spell in the nets, Ganguly spent some time watching Sachin Tendulkar practise his drives against a boy throwing from 15 yards. With a smile on his face, he walked up for a word and for a brief moment, as Tendulkar waved animatedly with his gloved hand, you were transported to the days when the two were the most feared batting combination in the history of one-day cricket.

Oh good -- we have a sufficiency of Don Quixotes to tilt endlessly at imaginary windmills; good to see the pros getting down to the job at hand. Another item of significance:
The coterie that once surrounded him, and contributed in no small measure to the media disenchantment that cost him the top job, stayed at a respectful distance, and Ganguly then set about showing the team management just what he could do if selected in the XI on Friday morning.

That coterie -- and not all of them were comprised of media folk -- had, true to the nature of such coteries, surrounded Sourav, and become the default filter through which the player viewed the cricketing world. In the process, members of that group had told tales, including manufactured ones -- mostly on the Chinese Whispers ilk of 'this is what so-and-so said about you'; each fresh story suggesting to Sourav that he was increasingly being isolated within the team and the members of the coterie were the only ones looking out for his interests.
If distancing them is a deliberate act, IMHO it is worth more than say 200 runs scored against the Australian attack; it frees up Sourav to focus on the job he needs to do, and which he can, all other things being equal, do well: to wit, make runs, and make them in style (and forget that damn nonsense about 'batting all-rounder' -- the one major contribution to our current lexicon of the Sharmas Yashpal and Gopal, and of Pankaj Roy).

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