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Sight Screen

Monday, December 26, 2005

Apres Sourav

Nice, isn't it, to wake up -- reluctantly, and with a head that appears to have sponge-like absorbed all the alcohol and much else of the Christmas weekend -- and know that the issue of Ganguly's selection for the Pakistan tour is finally over?
The team, as picked, lends itself to interesting debate (No, NO! Not 'should Sourav be in it?'!), but will leave that itemised debate for later in the day, and for the following days.
For now: Kiran More is upset that Sourav Ganguly did not turn out for Bengal in the ongoing Ranji Trophy round; this, despite suggesting just four days earlier that domestic was his preferred route back into the national side. Board secretary Niranjan Shah unwittingly underlines the superstar syndrome (or maybe it's just that he doesn't want to get burnt in effigy) that prevails in Indian cricket when he says the BCCI has no intention of asking for an explanation.
"We are not going to write to anyone seeking explanation. What can we do if he doesn't play," said Niranjan Shah, BCCI Secretary, reacting to reports that Kiran More, chairman of selectors, was unhappy with Ganguly's decision of not playing in Ranji matches.

Elsewhere, More explains that Sourav wasn't the only one asked to play domestic cricket:
The guideline agreed upon by the selectors in conjunction with Greg Chappell and John Gloster was that those who had played 12 one-dayers and three Tests on the trot could skip Ranji, or play if they wanted the practice.
Asked why Kumble (who has not played ODIs) was skipping Karnataka’s Ranji tie, he said it wasn't a rigid criterion. "We agreed that certain players who had taken major workload could be excused. Kumble hadn't played the one-dayers but bowled about a 100 overs in the Tests. We made a list according to which Dravid, Kumble, Yuvraj, Harbhajan, Irfan, Tendulkar, Sehwag, Gambhir could all opt to skip the Ranji tie. Sehwag and Gambhir still opted to play for Delhi. We didn't exempt Laxman and he's playing for Hyderabad. We didn't exempt Ganguly either."

From the same story, this little bit:
CAB chief Jagmohan Dalmiya said the association secretary had spoken to Ganguly on the day before the Pakistan team was selected to ask if he was available for the ongoing Ranji game. "The secretary told me Ganguly asked to be excused from this game due to unavoidable circumstances but said he would play the last two Ranji games."
Which now of course, he will not be available for, since he'll be in Pakistan.

Elsewhere Zaheer Khan -- who too suggested he was looking at domestic cricket as a vehicle of rehabilitation -- continued his devastating form, blowing Punjab away in both innings.
The debate meanwhile now seems to have shifted from 'will he be picked?' to 'will he be played?'; the Telegraph suggests that captain Rahul Dravid has indicated the former captain will figure in the lineup. Oh by the way -- much critical comment recently about Dravid playing politics to keep Ganguly out of the side. In that context:
According to him, coach Greg Chappell didn’t say anything to suggest he differed from the Team India captain’s thinking. As reported in these columns, Dravid’s support was instrumental in getting his predecessor a seat on the January 5 flight to Lahore.

How do we know? Because a selector spoke to the Telegraph. Point being? That the whole question of who is supporting who is being argued in the dark -- had this selector not talked, the impression would continue to be that captain and coach fought against his inclusion. Maybe it's time to move on?
More disturbingly, from the same story, this:
The selector, though, couldn’t confirm who would open with Virender Sehwag to enable both Sourav and Yuvraj Singh to feature in the XI. It won’t surprise if Yuvraj is asked to do that job — something he has already done once.

So now we have -- thanks to intemperate politicians, an ex-officio selection committee comprising half the population of India, sundry board officials who dither in the face of 'public opinion' and a combination of suchlike factors -- come full circle. One of the downsides of a successful last tour of Pakistan was the attempt to shoe-horn a promising middle order batsman into the opener's slot in order to 'accomodate' other players/interests -- all we need is to go down that route again, now, to complete the abdication from the promised path of excellence. If it happens, it will be doubly ironic -- not only in that unsavory history repeats itself (and this at a time when Yuvraj finally seems to be finding his feet at the Test level), but that it happens at a time when we have, count them, three openers picked for duty.
While on domestic, Sadagopan Ramesh appears to have decided he has had enough of being sidelined by his state selectors for reasons not entirely cricketing -- and has turned out for Kerala. Good for him -- for a while there, it looked as if all the politics had finally forced the opener to quit serious cricket.
Seems a tad too early for serious debate on the Pakistan series -- but already, some of the stuff coming through raises eyebrows. Like, for instance, this story, that suggests bounce will be the weapon of choice for Pakistan seamers. Echoes, there, of some of the stuff that was said ahead of the last tour -- and also by Aussie bowlers ahead of India's last tour Down Under.
Off for now to catch up with my Monday morning -- see you guys later in my afternoon.

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