Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Why does Tendulkar love Ganguly?

By John Cheeran
Why does Sachin Tendulkar love Sourav Ganguly?
Is it a friendship of convenience?
I think, it is.
A struggling Ganguly as captain suited perfectly for Tendulkar to remain as the No.1 in Indian cricket. With Rahul Dravid asserting himself as a captain and as a batsman, Tendulkar needs protection in the Team India. Tendulkar got a fine dose of Dravid's no-nonsense attitude to cricket during India's historic visit to Pakistan in 2003.
Leading the side in the absence of Ganguly, Dravid declared India's innings in Multan when Tendulkar was only a few runs away from a double century. Dravid's move was hailed as the declaration of India's independence from the individual milestones by the discerning critics. Tendulkar was upset and he expressed his displeasure during a press conference.
Tendulkar was not amused by Dravid's iconoclasm.
Tendulkar knew pretty well that being the politician that Ganguly is, and as someone who can't command a place in the side by sheer performance, the Maharaj could not have gone for such a bold declaration.
Controversy was stirred also by Ganguly with Bengali media lobby insinuating that Dravid declared Indian innings to deny Tendulkar the double century. I have no evidence that Tendulkar did not buy that theory.
And Tendulkar's new found love for a much discredited Ganguly (which was evident as Tendulkar gave a good conduct certificate to Ganguly when Sharad Pawar came calling) mirrors the Mumbaikar's fears of what will happen if Dravid becomes all too powerful in the team management.
Will Tendulkar be eased out of the team if doesn't perform well?
It is a justifiable thought for a batsman who is no longer the epicentre of Indian cricket.

A time to admire Dravid's genius

By John Cheeran
Rahul Dravid, I must say, is a genius.
He is a quality batsman, and more than that he is a brave man.
Not just in Lahore, 2006, but on various other stages Dravid had showed guts and decision-making ability.
In 2003 at Multan, Dravid surprised entire India by closing the team's innings with Sachin Tendulkar on the verge of a double century. That was an amazing act that shook the Tendulkar cult in India.
Now in the first Test of another nerve-wracking Pakistan series, Dravid took another crucial decision. Bold one that is. Dravid ventured to open the innings when Sourav Ganguly refused to face fresh Pakistani fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Naved-ul-Hassan (according to reliable reports, except the Calcutta riffraff).
The BCCI's diktat to Team India management to carry the Ganguly burden at the cost of Wasim Jaffer and Gautam Gambhir had triggered a crisis in the beginning.
Dravid then converted the crisis situation into an opportunity. Ganguly's reluctance to open the batting in Test cricket is no secret; when he was the captain and a vacancy arose at the top, he tried out such varied middle and lower-order batsmen as Dravid and V V S Laxman, Hemang Badani and DeepDasgupta, Yuvraj Singh and Parthiv Patel.
Ganguly's only outing as a Test opener came in the Mumbai Test against Sri Lanka in December 1997, when he followed up his first-innings 173 batting at number three by making 11 in the second essay when he opened the innings.
Dravid has given Ganguly a lesson in how to open the innings under pressure, by his own example. His 21st Test century will be remembered for a long time that it might have as well buried Ganguly, the batsman.
I'm given to understand that as the Test panned out Ganguly was relishing to make some 30-odd runs on this flat track so that his cronies can raise their pitch in West Bengal for his stay in the team.
And to the chagrin of the rabble rousers in Calcutta, Dravid and vice captainVirender Sehwag combined so well to deny Ganguly a golden chance to score some runs and there by frustrate the Lord Irritant.
There cannot be a more refined revenge in sport. Dravid wins all points for stepping into open as Ganguly chickened out. And by remaining unbeaten after scoring a flawless century Dravid denied Ganguly any chance of a middle order knock.
I can imagine how Ganguly must be ruing the missed chance to open in Lahore.
Poojas and yagnas in Calcutta must go on. Keep performing.

Calcutta's goodwill gimmick

By John Cheeran
Calcutta has conceded defeat against Rahul Dravid.
Reasons are obvious. Truth has dawned on Calcuttans and its that yagnas can't revive Sourav Ganguly's career.
If one man can do that, it is Dravid.
Indian skipper's move to open the innings in Lahore has left rabid Ganguly supporters speechless. I must, however, point out that Telegraph Calcutta and its cricket correspondent on the same day preferred to ignore the boldest ever statement made by an Indian captain, since it exposed Ganguly.
It is not that Dravid just opened.
Skipper proved a point by scoring a century under pressure and in the company of his deputy Virender Sehwag taught rest of the team what is positive play is all about.
Telegraph can choose to ignore Dravid's statement, but not rest of India, and not rest of the cricketing world. Not even Calcutta!
An agency story says that Rahul Dravid was presented a Goodwill Bat by former Indian footballer Chuni Goswami on behalf of Kolkatans on the last day of the first Test at the Gaddafi Stadium. The former national football captain flew down to Lahore from Kolkata to handover the bat which bears signature of various people of Calcutta, including footballer Bhaichung Bhutia and Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. The bat has also been signed by all members of the current Bengal Ranji squad.
Goswami, who led the country to its last gold medal in Asian Games at Jakarta in 1962, presented the bat on behalf of the Sports Management Group of Kolkata and "as a representation of the sentiments of people from different walks of life, including celebrities". Goswami said he has been deeply moved by Dravid's gesture to open the innings with Sehwag and allowing former India captain Sourav Ganguly to be included in the middle order."
"In my years of playing sports I have not come across a more selfless gesture,"said Goswami in Lahore.
The former player, who handed over the bat outside the dressing room, also gave his best wishes to the rest of the Indian team for the gruelling tour.
Pity you Calcutta.
If you think such gimmicks will work with Dravid, you are sadly mistaken.
There is no room, I repeat, there is no room for Ganguly in the middle order. Dravid should bat at No.3 and Ganguly should open up, if he wants to survive in international cricket.

Dravid is decent, unlike normal cricketers!

By John Cheeran
Dravid is decent, unlike normal cricketers!
This remark comes from former Pakistan captain and current chairman of the Pakistan selection committee Wasim Bari.
Bari, I suppose, is not a Dravidian.
Bari, after meeting the Indian skipper at Lahore described him as a "very educated person". Now I have a question.
Is Sourav Ganguly a normal cricketer? Is Ganguly deserves to be called decent?
Bari, a former wicketkeeper, said: "He looked a very educated person to me. The other day he saw me and came over to me on his own and said 'How are you Baribhai?'," Bari told his fellow selector Iqbal Qasim during the first Test at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.
"It was nice of him to come and ask my well being. Normally, you do not find such players these days," said Bari.
When someone told that Dravid comes from a respected family in Bangalore and that his mother is a professor and a doctorate in fine arts, and his father is also a thorough gentleman, Bari said he was not aware of this. "I don't know about his background, but I found him a decent person, unlike normal cricketers," said Bari.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Sehwag and Dravid make Indians proud

By John Cheeran
For a change it looks like, I will get my money’s worth.
My prediction of a draw, after play on the first day, is becoming increasingly likely now.
Virender Sehwag has hammered a breathtaking century while skipper Rahul Dravid has authored a solid century.
Captain and vice-captain, in an admirable show of solidarity and craftsmanship, have lived up to the Pakistan challenge. Sehwag’s double century is the second fastest in Test cricket history.
Dravid will relish his 21st century, coming in as an opener in a critical juncture, to the immense relief of Team India.
Dravid’s and Sehwag’s centuries vary in style, but in substance they are the same. It helps the team’s cause.
They should carry on and hold the crease throughout the final day to de-fang the Pakistan bowlers.
Dravid should think about declaration only after surpassing Pakistan’s total that will give India the necessary psychological edge.
Sehwag is with in a chance to overcome Brian Lara’s 400. After a string of below-par scores, Sehwag should be given the chance to make the best out of his Lahore luck.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Sehwag and Dravid keep hopes alive

By John Cheeran
Virender Sehwag and skipper Rahul Dravid deserve all accolades for going about India’s reply in the best possible manner on Sunday.
Sehwag was aggressive while Dravid remained confident and solid.
If not for the repeated interruptions owing to bad light and overcast conditions, India would have made considerable progress in their effort to match Pakistan run for run, ton for ton.
Sehwag could not have asked for a better stage than Lahore to regain his penchant for big knocks.
I’m aware that Sehwag still requires a boundary to complete his Test century; but it is as good as he scored it.
Sehwag stepped into a situation that was made imposing by the sheer volume of Pakistan runs.
Sehwag’s failure here would have been virtually unpardonable.
Sehwag has silenced his critics from the Ganguly camp in the most stunning manner.
Dravid, for his part, will go down in Indian cricket history for his courage as a captain and a batsman. Taking a long, hard look at the Pakistan score of 679 for seven, Dravid did not shirk from his responsibility. He has led from the front.
Dravid decided to take the bull by its horns as he is very much aware that Sourav Ganguly can never tackle the fury of Pakistani fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar, Naved-ul Hassan and Mohammad Sami while opening in a critical situation that India has found itself.
Dravid has kept his anger and angst within himself even when Sharad Pawar foisted Ganguly on Team India. The skipper has scored only 37 and he has to score more if India is to get out of the woods.
The next two days should bring out the finest from this selfless cricketer that India has ever seen.

Test of character for Indian batsmen

By John Cheeran
Let me state the obvious.
Indian batsmen are under tremendous pressure and Lahore is turning out to be a Test of character and prowess for them.
It is not just Sourav Ganguly who is under the scanner. The likes of Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni will have to come up with efforts to justify their presence in the side when India need it most.
And India needs runs now, more than ever.
It’s a flat track, but having said that India has got the worst of a flat track.
Indian batsmen are playing under the suffocating shadow of a run mountain erected by Pakistan. Even avoiding the follow-on would take considerable effort. Wear and tear will come into play and reputation alone will not be enough to save the Test.
Experience, read Ganguly, should count on this occasion!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Dravid ventures where Ganguly chickens out!

By John Cheeran
There is a long way to go for India.
But skipper Rahul Dravid again has shown the cynics, Sourav Ganguly and Ganguly’s lackeys that he belongs in a different league by opening the Indian innings along with Virender Sehwag.
Dravid has taken the lead in India’s Save the Test campaign.
You should appreciate Dravid’s selfless act in the backdrop of Ganguly refusing to open.
If Rahul Dravid can open, why can’t Ganguly?
Ganguly after all used to be an opener in one-dayers that essentially led to his bloated record in the shortened format of the game.
Dravid has exposed what a feckless fellow Ganguly is after all. Petulance is one thing. Courage is quite something else.
Ganguly, listen to Dravid. Now you watch while Dravid goes out there and help India in its most urgent task – avoid the follow on.
Ganguly, meanwhile, must be praying for a half-century to prolong his miserable existence. Even before the Test began his supporters in Calcutta began a yagna for their hero to make contact with ball.
The yagna, I’m afraid, will go on too long for Ganguly’s comfort.

Lahore Test? It's a draw !

By John Cheeran
My money is on a draw at Lahore.
After Pakistan scored 326 for two on the first day of the first Test in Lahore and taking a long, hard look at the wicket, I'm sure this Test will finish in a draw.
Will there be excitement on the way?
Will Indian batting collapse to trigger a debate of follow-on?
May be, may not be.
But I don't see India losing this Test even if they are forced to follow on.
As the game stands now, Pakistan will bat throughout the second day and post a total around 650 before declaring their innings.
It does not matter whether Indian bowlers fail in their basic objective, that is taking wickets.
India, then, will be left to save the game over the next three days.
With Sourav Ganguly there to open the innings against Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Sami, it would be interesting to see how the Indian reply pans out.
A victory for Pakistan? Chances are slim if you are taking a realistic view.
A victory for India? Not a chance.

When Pawar handcuffs Dravid

By John Cheeran
How rotten things are in Indian cricket was evident as the story of Sourav Ganguly's inclusion for the Lahore Test emerged through whispers.
Ganguly's inclusion in the side defies logic.
Where will he bat?
There is no room for him in the middle order. Rahul Dravid has no option but ask Ganguly to open the innings.
He has been pushed into the side at the cost of specialist openers Gautam Gambhir and Wasim Jaffer. The point is simple and it bears no repetition.
Team India skipper Rahul Dravid does not want Sourav Ganguly in the side. Nor does coach Greg Chappell. Theycan't find a place for Ganguly in the side.
But they were overruled by power brokers in the Indian cricket board.
An AFP report says that team sources said in Lahore that Sourav Ganguly was included in the Indian team due to pressure from cricket board chiefs.
Coach Greg Chappell and captain Rahul Dravid did not want Ganguly to open the innings and could not fit him in the middle-order either without disturbing a trusted combination.
But team manager Raj Singh Dungarpur, under instructions from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), is understood to have spoken to Chappell and urged him to field the experienced Ganguly for the match.
"The manager was asked to convince Chappell to play Ganguly," the source said, declining to reveal which BCCI official wanted the former captain in. "All I can say is there was pressure from the top to include Ganguly because of his vast experience. "
If this is a reflection of the clout a listless and out of form Ganguly can wield with the man who defeated his godfather Jagmohan Dalmiya, things are terribly, terribly wrong with Indian cricket.
And the incident has proved that what a liar Sharad Pawar can be.
He has repeatedly said that he will not interfere in selection matters. Everyone realised the worth of his words as national selectors were coerced into bringing Ganguly back in the side.
Again, Pawar has joined the team management by foisting Ganguly on Team India.
Now you know how Ganguly managed to cling onto the Indian team, when Dalmiya ruled the roost, in the last five years.
If India lose this series against Pakistan, don't blame skipper Dravid.
How can he implement his vision for success when Indian board handcuffs skipper during the selection of the side?
How can any skipper plan for success when a dirty politician like Ganguly sow the seeds of dissent in the side?

Ganguly digs his own grave

By John Cheeran
Sourav Ganguly has dug his own grave in Lahore, even before he took up the bat in defence of his presence in the side.
The schism was out in the open.
If you were nursing any doubt that Team India skipper Rahul Dravid does not see eye to eye with the Lord Irritant Sourav Ganguly, now you can discard after watching the television footage from Lahore, that is even before play began on Friday.
India coach Greg Chappell, however, has denied any rift in the team.
His deadpan comment on the subject was: “It was nothing, we were just discussing cricket. Why do you people have to read more into everything?”
I admire Chappell’s composure. That’s the way he is expected to handle such a situation. But like many an occasion in the past, words are only words and you can reach your own conclusions in this case.
An agency report from Lahore said the discussion centered around who would open the innings.
Asked why Ganguly had been selected to play in the first Test against Pakistan, Chappell said the best and most experienced team had been picked.
He added that no decision had been taken on whether Ganguly would open for India. "We have not decided on this as yet. But we will have the best possible batting line up," Chappell said.
Indian team manager Raj Singh Dungarpur said there had been no pressure to recall Ganguly to the test side. "There was no pressure from the board to pick Saurav. We all thought it best to put this matter to rest by playing him," he said.

Dravid keeps them guessing

A Blog Report
Team India captain Rahul Dravid kept the media guessing whether Saurav Ganguly will be included in the playing 11 for the first Test in Lahore.
"I know what the team is for this Test. But we want to keep the opposition guessing," he said in a news conference on Thursday.
There was speculation on the match eve that Ganguly could be promoted to open the innings alongside Virender Sehwag after he batted in the nets against the new ball.
Dravid said all 16 players in the squad were available for selection, adding: "I can only say that the five who miss out are unlucky as everyone is in good form."
He expected the Gaddafi stadium pitch to assist the home fast bowlers. "It does not look like it will be impossible to survive for the side batting fourth, but it seems firm and should help the bowlers."
Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq said makeshift opener Shoaib Malik would open the innings with Salman Butt ahead of Imran Farhat.
"He gave us good stands against England and we want to continue withhim as opener," Inzamam said. Left-hander Farhat hit 107 in a warm-up game against the Indians to come into the reckoning after regular opener Yasir Hameed went down with typhoid, but Inzamam said Malik's off-spin bowlingcould be useful.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Ganguly is a lazy good fellow!

By John Cheeran
Raj Singh Dungarpur, the manager of India cricket team that tours Pakistan, has told the Headlines Today, the India Today Group TV channel, that Sourav Ganguly is the laziest cricketer in Indian team. That’s what the channel says.
If that is the case, well, everyone knew it for years and years.
What’s new about the statement? I have said it in the past; so has Dungarpur, so have others who watched Indian cricket over the years.
Is it newsy, because it came on the eve of the Pakistan tour?
It is not for nothing that Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq insisted on the inclusion of Ganguly in the Indian team. Pakistan knows a lazy Ganguly will make their cause of victory easier.
In the interview telecast by Headlines, Dungarpur was speaking about what had happened during former coach John Wright’s tenure.
Let’s have Dungarpur quotes.
“Even Wright had a huge problem with Sourav. Sourav is not a student of
the game. As a captain he was never a role model. A captain cannot be the
laziest cricketer, possibly the worst fielder in the side.”

Even if one wants to haul Dungarpur over the coals, how’s that possible?
Dungarpur has not said Ganguly is the laziest, what he has said is that a captain cannot be the laziest cricketer.
I can’t figure out how on earth you can quarrel with that statement.
I can only sense the desperation of TV channels when it comes to the coverage of cricket.
Though they are a visual medium, they cannot show the game or clippings of the game because someone else has taken the telecast rights.
So TV channels like Headlines Today end up scrambling over peripherals like Chappell’s finger and Dungarpur’s plain speaking.
Go, go and get the telecast rights.

When a dog eats another dog

By John Cheeran
A dog should not eat another dog.
A journalist should not eat another journalist for breakfast.
The dirty secrets of Indian journalism never come out of the closet, because the opportunities for livelihood for a journalist in India are very, very limited.
If you are going to ditch one media organization, there is hardly anywhere else to go. If you speak out against or write against an editor, you can be sure that subject of your criticism will never employ you in future. He will also see to that you will not be taken by other editors too.
Editors are merciless not to the establishment but towards those who do not suck up to them.
And if you displease a management, even if a small fry management that is, you can be certain that they will shut their doors forever on you.
So the sins of media barons rarely come out of the press clubs. Being a journalist you cannot displease the managements of Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Hindu, ABP or Malayala Manorama. Not even the Indian Express for that matter.
How many bargaining chips an Indian journalist can carry to the table?
Knowing this, I'm not surprised that Vijay Nambisan reached the end of his tether while trying to get payment for his commissioned articles from Tehelka, the people's paper.
Managements often expect journalists to live on fresh air.
An editor, who I hold in high esteem even as I write this, asked me "why do you need money now", when I told him the reason for my resignation. I did not answer him because both of us knew our peculiar situation then. I never felt then, don't feel now, that my editor took advantage of me by paying me less. Those were certainly strange times.
There are, however, many others who do take advantage of journalists by paying them peanuts. And if you are not a high-profile freelancer, it is the norm that you will not be paid at all.
Nambisan was not an employee of Tehelka but was told to write for them. As shows, even as of today, Tehelka has not cleared Nambisan's dues. And this is from the moral police among journalists, from the sting operators, from the conscience keepers of the nation. As Nambisan has pointed out during his epic email battle, if there was a financial problem in Tehelka, he should have been told by those who responsible for the paper as it is.
What I do not know from the email summaries published in is that whether Tarun Tejpal and others behind the People's Paper were starving and were not having enough clothes to wear during those time.
If that was the case, that was a pity indeed!
I must then say that Indian journalism has been made richer by Tehelka team's poverty.
I would not have known about Nambisan's travails if not for a space like It would have been impossible to expect India's mainstream media to publish such stories that put a crusading media company in bad light.
I'm interested in this affair basically because, if possible, I want to die as a journalist. I was wondering whether I can keep the pretence of a journalist by being a freelancer. As it is, that is going to be pretty, pretty difficult.
Second, I have met the main characters -- Vijay Nambisan and Shoma Chaudhury --in this drama. Years ago.
I approached Nambisan for an interview in 1994, when he was working with the Hindu in Madras. Now, as then, I was aimless and jobless.
I had seen Shoma Chaudhury years later, when she joined my then paper, if I remember correctly, as books editor. Nambisan told me that he became a journalist because having failed to complete his degree (I don't want to give his personal details) this was the only profession open for him.
When I met him, he had already won acclaim as one of India's best promising poets in English. Viking Penguin had published his poetry in the Gemini series. These were, I must say, big things by the 90s yardsticks. Anita Nairs of the Indian English writing were yet to happen then.
My interview with Vijay Nambisan was never published. It was never meant to be published. He was told the reasons for that and since those days we haven't met; we haven't even emailed. Nambisan in fact did refer to our conversation when he wrote on something in Hindu's Literary Review, sometime later. That was my brief encounter with Nambisan.
As a man out of work now, I can understand Nambisan's desperation to get hold of a cheque which should have been his without those 86 emails.
Shoma Chaudhury left the paper much before I left from there. We haven't met since then. But last year, I had the fortune of reading a piece on Indian actor Amir Khan which appeared in Financial Times's Asia edition under Shoma Chaudhury's name.
The piece appearedwhen Khan's Mangal Pandey film was about to release, if I remember correctly.
If anyone wants to know how not to write, he can be given that piece as a classic example.
It is always good to have good contacts in the right places.
It is always good to read thundering editorials.
It is really a tough job to run a media organization.
More difficult it is to be honest and direct in your dealings while the life lasts.

Forever young

By John Cheeran
National selectors' excuse to bring back Sourav Ganguly into the Indian team for Pakistan tour was experience. India needs the experience of a seasoned player like Ganguly in a crucial away engagement like the Pakistan tour.
Really...Let's agree on that point for a minute.
And then consider what was this experienced player's contribution when India won the Test series in Pakistan during the last visit.
Records tell us that Rahul Dravid led India in the first two Tests. India won the first Test, Pakistan won the next one.
Ganguly did not play in the first two Tests. India did not require Ganguly's presence for the final Test especially since Yuvraj Singh hit a brilliant century in the second Test which, however, India lost.
An injured Ganguly rushed from the comforts of his Behala residence to play in the final Test. That threw up a problem for the team management in where to accommodate the now run away, now comeback skipper Ganguly.
Ganguly eventually played (77) but then the Test was won thanks to Dravid's splendidInnings of 270.
So what was Ganguly's contribution during the last series?
Is that experience all about?
Experience should be administered in small doses in sports. Sport, by its very nature offers its playing fields to the youth of this world.
People want to see not the contemporary Sachin Tendulkar but a Tendulkar who blazed the cricket world with his dazzling stroke play ten years ago.
Sport needs young minds, young hearts and young feet. Experience is good in statecraft and witchcraft but not when faced with tear-away fast bowlers.
Sport has its own yardsticks. It would be foolish to measure excellence in sport by the rulebook of day-to-day life.
In modern day tennis, you are considered a veteran by the time you reach 20.
Modern day sport is a place where you would like to inherit the youth of your son in exchange for your experience.
Quite like Yayati's father. Ganguly, go and read the puranas.

All about Ganguly and a pedestrian attack

By John Cheeran
What should we make of the events that unfolded at the Eden Gardens during the Ranji Trophy match between Bengal (please note, it is not West Bengal... the Bengali Ummah, I suppose) and Tamil Nadu?
Before the match started, Times of India's Mumbai edition had carried a preview.
The report was by a Bengali reporter. Nothing wrong in it.
But the report ended with a line "But it remains to be seen that whether Ganguly will be motivated enough to score against a pedestrian Tamil Nadu attack."
As a reader I don't want the reporter to take an anticipatory bail in case Ganguly fails with the bat. That does not befit Times of India.
Later events show that Ganguly stayed motivated to score against a pedestrian Tamil Nadu attack. May be it was not prudent on the part of the ToI reporter to brand Tamil Nadu attack as pedestrian.
Now that takes the sheen out of Ganguly's two half-centuries in the match. Ganguly top scored for Bengal in both first (59) and second innings (88).
Oh my gosh! Impressive efforts, Sharad Pawar should say.
But then the point is that the same match witnessed much better batting efforts. Hemang Badani top scored for Tamil Nadu in the first innings with 67 and in the second innings with an unbeaten 157. Badani laid the foundation for the Tamil Nadu victory.
Haven't the selectors erred in leaving out Badani, a man in fine touch, from theIndian squad that is in Pakistan now?
It was just not Badani who stole the thunder from Ganguly. Tamil Nadu opener S Sriram made 96 in the second innings while their No.7 Vasudevadas scored 62. Tamil Nadu's No.9 M.R. Srinivas remained not out on 41.
I have listed these batsmen's scores so that one can take stock of Ganguly's valiant efforts against a ‘pedestrian’ attack in its proper context.
The point is this. Ganguly may be the best player in Bengal but there are far better players in Rest of India.
This is the critical point. But I'm sure that Bengal has not become mature enough to accept this cricketing truth.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Dravid sticks to his guns

By John Cheeran
Rahul Dravid chooses his shots carefully.
Dravid also chooses his words in similar manner.
So it is not surprising that when some of the Sourav Ganguly News Service Men tried to seek explanation for captain’s new agenda, Dravid has firmly stuck to his guns.
Team India captain Rahul Dravid said his comments to a cricket magazine were not aimed at anyone in particular (read Sourav Ganguly) but "a general principle to be followed in anygroup".
"I had no specific players in mind when I made the comment, it is a general principle that can be applied to any group, even a corporate organisation," Dravid said.
"At this level being motivated and giving your best to a team is a given. In a squad there are a whole lot of guys who are hungry to do well and a couple others not motivated can bring the wholesquad down.
"I want to say that at this level I shouldn't need to motivate anyone. If I'm needing to motivate an international cricketer then there's something wrong actually. The challenge is to not de-motivate anyone."
He went on to say that one could not invest too much time in motivating a bunch of players as that would affect the rest of the team in a negative way.
"If you're going to be spending time in the team always having to cajole and look after a few people in the team, you're doing a disservice to the rest because you're wasting and investing too much time and energy in a few people who're taking away from the group," he put it bluntly.
"Players need to understand that they need to give energy to the unit. There are times of course when you're not doing well, and your form's not good and you'll need the support of other people. But most of the time you've got to give to the team and make sacrifices to the team and give back to the team."
Well, Dravid’s comments must surely be a dampener to those who expect Indian captain to baby-sit Sourav Ganguly during the Pakistan tour.

Dravid’s agenda for the New Year

By John Cheeran
Rahul Dravid has set his agenda for the New Year in clear-cut terms.
He has come out boldly saying that he is not a puppet in the hands of all-powerful coach Greg Chappell, as a certain section in the media would like us to believe.
Dravid has asserted that he has his say in the decision-making process.
And Dravid, quickly, has pointed out that he won’t let anyone drive a wedge between captain and coach.
Dravid said in an interview to Cricinfo magazine that coach Greg Chappell is, contrary to popular perceptions, no despot.
“I've not found him domineering at all,'' he said. “Chappell has been more than willing to listen to my ideas and my thoughts and I get a very good say. At the end of the day I think he believes that a captain must get what he wants. In fact, in a lot of ways we do a lot of things in my way,'' Dravid added.
He also played down the apprehension among part of Team India regarding Chappell. And another important thing in Dravid’s agenda is this.
Dravid has made it clear that he would not like to have certain players in his side. “You don't want people whose own insecurities, whose own problems and whose own fears drag everyone else down. That can be a big dampener in teams,'' he said.
Dravid, by virtue of shouldering the burden of captaincy, is justified in saying that. Carrying extra baggage on a critical tour like Pakistan will backfire. And selectors and Super Selector Sharad Pawar has not given him any choice in this regard.
“I want to say that at this level I shouldn't need to motivate anyone. If I'm needing to motivate an international cricketer then there's something wrong actually. The challenge is to not de-motivate anyone.''
Well said, Dravid.

When Ganguly speaks about bottom lines

A Blog Report
When Sourav Ganguly speaks we must take note. It would be interesting to know what he perceives as reality.
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly has said he is determined to revive his career in Pakistan after enduring the "worst" year of his career.
"It was the worst year as far as my cricketing career is concerned. I’m really happy that 2005 has passed," Ganguly told the Mumbai-based 'Mid-Day' newspaper.
Ganguly says he is ready for the challenge despite being written off by former players both in India and Pakistan. "It is their opinion," he said. "I’ve nothing to do with what they think or believe.
"I know that I’ve to score runs. If I can do so, that will be the best for me. And I don’t want to be distracted at this moment. I just want to avoid controversies. "The bottom line is, I have to make runs, lots of runs."
Ganguly said India had a good chance to succeed again on Pakistani soil. "Why not? If we are to beat them, we have to bat well first. That’s the basic thing. And there’s no reason why we cant do that," he said.
Ganguly said his new year resolution is to "toil hard and come out successful". "In 1996, it was tough to break into the team. Now it’s tougher. But I am readyto accept it. That’s the challenge of 2006," he said.

Dravid ready for the challenge

A Blog Report
Team India skipper Rahul Dravid, who is leading India for the first time overseas, said in New Delhi that a tour of Pakistan was very special to an Indian cricketer.
"Any series that involves India and Pakistan is bound to be exciting and followed around theworld. We are looking forward to the challenging tour," the batsman said.
"The team's doing well.
"The two spinners are a very important cog in the wheel," he said. "Both Anil Kumble and Harbhajan (Singh) are proven world class spinners. It is exciting to see them both bowling well at the same time."

Chappell makes his new year wish

Editor’s note: This press conference report may not be all that exciting to read now.
I'm sure, it will attain a sort of poignancy when India comeback after the 45-day tour from Pakistan. In what shape, I shudder to hazard a guess.!
Right now it is the time to make wishes, to be optimistic, to make all the right noises.
Here goes a Blog Report from New Delhi.
Team India coach Greg Chappell has urged his struggling openers to improve before the start of the away series against Pakistan.
Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag had a poor home series against Sri Lanka. "Happy is not the word I would use at the moment," Australian Chappell told a news conference before the team's departure on the 45-day tour of Pakistan.
"They haven't done as well as we would have liked them to do or as well as they would have liked to do.
"Obviously from a batting point of view, the better the starts we get, the better you'd think it will be for the team."
India play three Tests and five one-dayers. The first Test begins in Lahore on January 13. India, who won both the Test and one-day series on their last tour in 2004, are yet to decide on their opening duo. The left-hander Gambhir is in competition with recalled Wasim Jaffer to open with Virender Sehwag.
The 27-year-old Sehwag, the vice-captain, has also struggled for form and has not scored a Test century since the 201 against Pakistan in the home series last season. Against Sri Lanka last month Sehwag made 36 in the first Test, missed the second due to illness and made 20 and nought in the third. Chappell said both Sehwag and Gambhir, as well as Jaffer, were good players and he was confident they would measure up in Pakistan.
"It's about applying ourselves to what is required at that time, but I think if we do bat well at the top of the order it should make things easier for us," he said.

Umpires humiliate Ganguly at Eden Gardens

A Blog Report
Sourav Ganguly has lived up to his arrogant image again.
Ganguly was suspended from bowling during Bengal’s Ranji Trophy match against Tamil Nadu on January 3. Test umpire K. Hariharan pulled up Ganguly for straying on the danger area of the pitch during his follow-through.
Ganguly, who took three of the first five Tamil Nadu wickets, was warned twice by Hariharan before being banned from bowling for the rest of the innings.
Ganguly later picked up an official warning for turning up late to bat in the closing hours. The umpires suspended play briefly towards the close for bad light, only to call all the players back to the field after 10 minutes.
And for over a minute, Ganguly made everybody on the field wait - for, he had taken off his gear assuming it was stumps.
Match referee Kiran Mokashi confirmed that the umpires lodged an official complaint for the delay. "The delay shouldn't have happened. The umpires have informed me of the incident, in the form of a complaint against the player,"Mokashi said.

Waqar yorks Ganguly

Editor’s note: There may be more to life than Indian cricket like finding means to eat two square meals. I have been limping on the sidewalks of life, hence the time difference in posting some of these stuff.
Here you get a second opinion on the great Indian cricketer Sourav Ganguly from one of the finest fast bowlers of our time, Waqar Younis.
Read the story
Former captain Waqar Younis believes the Indian selectors have taken a step back by selecting Sourav Ganguly for the cricket tour of Pakistan.
"I think the Indian selectors have taken a step back by picking Sourav because he is certainly not a player in form. I saw him batting in the New Delhi Test (against Sri Lanka) and he was clearly struggling to put bat to the ball" Younis said.
"I don't think you can select any player who is in such a bad formin his career. Somehow, he does not look like capable of scoring runs," Younis,who played 87 Tests and 262 one-dayers for Pakistan, told Press Trust of India.
Younis said the Indian selectors had shown short sightedness and had also proved they could not think like the Australians. "The Australian selectors threw in three to four youngsters against South Africa instead of relying on big names. The teams are not built just on talent but how that talent is used and nurtured.
"The Indian team needs fresh legs and when you have a player as athletic, fit and confident like Mohammad Kaif, you need to throw him in the deep pan so that he can learn how to handle pressure," Waqar said.
"I am sure the Pakistanis must be very happy to find Sourav in the team because there would be more pressure on the left-hander than what it was when he was making his debut", Younis, who took 373 Test and 416 one-day wickets, said.

Lesson One: An elegy to Naushad

By John Cheeran
I must express my extreme disappointment that no one out there is interested in the plight of an Indian worker imprisoned in Saudi Arabia, waiting for his eyes to be gouged out.
My web log is not the best address in the web, still I expected a few stray comments on this poor Indian’s plight and the system that has sucked him into it.
When I had run a campaign to rid Indian cricket of the pest called Sourav Ganguly, I had at least a few comments from the agitated Ganguly fans.
I had taken that extreme step in self-promotion after publishing Naushad’s story.
I had emailed the link to to a few strangers’ (all Indian) addresses that initially I got from a chain mail from another acquaintance.
They were all agitated at my lack of civility and shamelessness in self-promotion as they had nothing got to do with the blind justice that prevails in Saudi Arabia.
I admit that I made a mistake in sending unsolicited emails to total strangers. They have every reason to feel assaulted at their privacy.
Who the hell is Naushad?
And who the hell is John Cheeran?
Spam are all welcome, since who knows, one day they might contain the map to that much sought-after treasure hunt.
If Naushad loses his eye, it matters little to the rest of the world.
When Ganguly is dropped from the Indian team, Indian parliamentarians took up the cudgels on the behalf of the Maharaj, cutting across party boundaries, I must add.
The ability of Indian Republic in prioritizing its life is amazing.
Maa thuje salaam!
John Cheeran at Blogged