Did Ganguly take aim at Dhoni or Sehwag?
In a strange and bitter interview, Sourav Ganguly has taken careful aim at a few people, including Dilip Vengsarkar, the previous chairman of the selection committee.
In an interview to a Bengali newspaper, Ganguly said he was very frustrated at being “the sacrificial goat all the time”.
While talking about his own frustrations is ok, it is when he trained his gun at his own dressing room that I think he crossed the line between mildly-acceptable and totally-unacceptable in my book! After all, it is not a crime to air your frustrations in the press.
And surely, the man has had to deal with many a frustration in his career. When he came into the national side, scuttlebutt was that he got in because of considerations other than his class, ability and form. When he was dropped without even having the opportunity to carry the drinks tray, people ridiculed him. He then had to endure more sniggers when he got selected for the tour of England in 1996 where he made his debut. His place in the team has always been under the microscope — even when he backed himself as leader to transform India from a bunch of sometimes-talented individuals to a team that could play against some of the very best. And then, through the Greg Chappell episode and, later, through his return to the Indian cricket playing fraternity, the microscope has always been trained on him.
So, his frustrations are perhaps understandable. He has had to, perhaps, endure more scrutiny than most in the Indian middle order.
Ganguly said, that the turning point was when he was dropped for the Irani trophy. “It was difficult to accept,” he said. “If a gun is held at your head, how far can you bear it. That too after playing 450 matches. I played badly in only one series. But others are not dropped. I have scored the highest number of runs after comeback,” he said.
All of that is not really a crime, even if it contained factual inaccuracies. After all, he is only expressing his opinions openly. Perhaps he wasn’t the most diplomatic. But acceptable? Most certainly, in my book.
He then went on to say that although he could have perhaps played on until 2009, he was not “prepared to take any more humiliation,”. Again, he was only expressing his own bitterness and frustrations. He was perhaps entitled to both!
He then made the two most personal and telling comments that, in my view, ought to earn him a strong censure and perhaps even a suspension from the BCCI.
The first statement was against a former player and the next, against a current player.
First he said, “Everything happens in Indian cricket. When Greg Chappell dropped me, he chose Tejinder Pal Singh to replace me. Where is he now?”
And then came the real bombshell: “Some have not scored any runs in the last three series, some have not scored any run during the last one year. Some have changed their hair style more number of times than the number of runs they have scored. I was dropped despite scoring the highest number of runs following my comeback.”
Now that is a total no-no in my books. While it is perfectly ok for a current contracted player to express his own frustrations and opinions on his own abilities, it just cannot be right to take aim at an ex player in the dressing room or indeed, a current player in the dressing room.
Apart from Dhoni and Sehwag, there aren’t too many Indian players who have changed their hair-styles in the last year. It is most likely that Ganguly trained his sights on Dhoni when he issued this latest unprovoked and totally irresponsible verbal volley! After all, it was Dhoni that insisted on younger-fitter players in the ODI team — an insistence that led to Sourav Ganguly being axed from the ODI side. So, was this Ganguly’s way of getting even with Dhoni? If it wasn’t Dhoni, who was it that he aimed that barb at?
Surely, such speculation cannot be good for dressing room harmony.
The senior players in the side — sans Ganguly — ought to get together with the BCCI and issue Ganguly with a serious warning and perhaps even drop him for the next Test. It is important that team members do not take pot-shots at other team members through the press.
Shane Warne, a player who got away with near-murder several times in his career, was able to find a friendly cameraman to attribute the “Can’t bowl, can’t throw” own-team-player sledge against Scott Muller. Ganguly should not be that lucky. He should be made an example of by his own team members. If not, what would stop a Rohit Sharma or a Suresh Raina questioning the ability of a Rahul Dravid via an irresponsible press interview?
As I write this piece, there is news filtering in that Ganguly has denied making these comments. But if he has made these comments, he should be made to sit out the next game!
Ganguly has been an exceptional cricketer. But in this case — and by washing dressing-room dirty linen in public in Zimbabwe — he has stepped over the lines of decency and responsible behaviour. He should suffer for it.