I have said this before on my blog and I will say it now again. The Sourav Ganguly issue makes me more acutely aware of my identity than any other thing simply because anti-Gangulyism is strongly followed by and often driven by anti-Bengalism—-a surprisingly powerful and undeniably perceptible sentiment I have felt more than once in my life in the company of fellow Indians.
Let’s look at it logically. Who is Sourav to me? A rich man’s son who had many privileges growing up I didnt have—by common consent arrogant, abrasive and petulant. Not my favorite kind of person. I have never been parochial, have no problems in making fun of other other Bengali heroes (Mithunda), do not hero-worship Netaji and do not feel that the Hilsa is the last thing in cuisine. And yet the mere mention of Dada makes me acutely conscious of my linguistic identity which is ironical in that Sourav Ganguly’s greatest legacy is his lack of parochialism and his hard-nosed objectivity when dealing with Indian cricket players.
Here’s a simple test. Go through a few articles about Sourav. The word “Bengal” or “Kolkata” is going to be present in the article with a high probabibility. Now go through a few articles about Sachin. Check out “Maharashtra” or “Mumbai”. Just to confirm that go to articles about Rahul Dravid and check out “Karnataka” or ” Bangalore”.
Go through the Orkut discussion on Ganguly. The people who abuse Ganguly also use abusive words against Bengalis —mostly concerning our paternities and the characters of our women. In Stonybrook where I was a PhD student for 5 years, the guy who used to rain abuse at Ganguly happened to be someone who stayed in Kolkata when he was a child and hated it. Just a coincidence. Whenever Ganguly got out, eyes would turn towards me….some people would tell me ” Ki Arnab-da….when is Dada going to make runs?” as if somehow me being Bong made me answerable for Sourav’s performance. No Bangalorean or Marathi was ever made accountable for Sachin’s or Rahul Dravid’s failures with the bat—-and there have been several over the past 5 years.
So let me pre-empt Mr Anonymous commenter. Yes sir, I support Ganguly because he is Bengali. Because you have left me no other choice. If I was Bangalorean and took out a procession burning effigies of Ganguly and shouting slogans for Rahul Dravid, I would not be considered parochial. But with me being a Bengali Kolkatan, I have already been labelled. So now let me live upto it. Unapologetically.
Now the parochial , third-eye blind Greatbong speaks.
I strongly feel for Sourav. The powers in admininstration (Dalmiya) have sold him out to Pawar and Bindra as a peace offering—Dravid as captain in exchange for a truce. Vision for 2007 World Cup yeah right. Which just goes to show the Dalmiya never supported Ganguly because he was a fellow Bong (incidentally Dalmia isnt a Bong but he is a Kolkatan) but because it was politically expedient to do so.
Greg Chappell, with the aid of his friends in the Press (more about that later) have savaged Ganguly’s legacy—-Greg underarm Chappell rightfully understands that in order to get rid of Ganguly the person, he first needs to kill Ganguly the legend. Canards were spread that Ganguly faked injury, spread discontent in the team—-accusations intended to undermine Ganguly’s reputation of never playing politics in the team based on personal equations (a charge Ganguly’s predecessors in the captains seat cannot deflect off easily). The investigation of the board cleared Ganguly of the charges of faking an injury—yet the coach, who had been proved to be a liar, was not taken to task. Instead it was Ganguly who was out of the team despite having successfully defended himself against all accusations.
But what was the unkindest cut of all was that Rahul Dravid actively worked , in collusion with Greg Chappell, to prevent Sourav from coming back into the team. Since he is now the blue-eyed boy of the press, this behavior was considered to be “okey”. If it was Sourav doing it to Dravid, then the press would have been beating their chest—-pointing out how dastardly Bengali Ganguly was, lusting for captaincy and backstabbing a “friend”. However since it’s Rahul Dravid, Cricinfo (which has emerged as a beacon light for aggressive, anti-Ganguly biased reporting in recent times—–putting it one notch above the anti-Ganguly hate sight for undiluted vitriol) finds it “natural” that Dravid is aggrieved that he has not been given the captaincy for so long—-somehow the underlying assumption being that captaincy is a cookie you get for being a good boy.
I seem to recollect in late 90s groaning the moment one of Sourav or Sachin got out because that meant clueless Dravid would come into bat and the scoring rate would go down. Yet noone ever felt then that Dravid should not be part of long term World Cup plans. It was once Dravid became wicketkeeper (and thus assured of his place in the team) that he began to flourish with deft placements, soft hands and clinical hits—–a move that was the brainchild of the same man whom he argued to kick out a day or two ago.
Note to self: When Dravid and More work together to ease out someone it is progressive thinking, the moment Dalmiya is involved it is dirty politics. Doublespeak anyone?
Now we come to the central argument against Ganguly. Who does Ganguly replace in the current team? How about a 31 year old trundler who bowls laughable military medium and cannot read Muralidharan’s doosra and calls himself an all rounder mainly because he doesnt know which he does worse ? How about a 18 year old whose only bullet in the resume is that he can field well? Are these people part of Vision 2007 because they are more capable than Sourav Ganguly or because they are yes-men of the More-Chappell-Dravid combine?
Another point of view: Okay Ganguly has proven his form and his fitness. But these young players havent yet had the opportunity to prove their mettle—how can they be dropped? Beautifull…..now please explain how come Balaji who gave 48 runs in 10 overs in Sri Lanka never made it to the side subsequently? Where was the sense of fairness then? If one match did it for Balaji, then how come Venugopal Rao, who had a dreadful run in Sri Lanka, is still in the 14 as a prospect? What happened to Nehra? How come Zaheer is not good to be in the India team but gets Man of the Series in the Afro-Asia Cup? How come Sreesanth bowled well in one Challenger trophy match and made it to the Indian team ? How does the great Chappell-Dravid combine understand talent in such blindingly brief displays ?
How come Superduck (apologies to Samit Basu) Agarkar, whose ” economy” rate is over 5, is considered to be a World Cup prospect——maybe it is because he and More come from the same part of the country? Perhaps? Will Cricinfo suggest that? No it wont in spite of the fact that they did not hesitate to repeat Ganguly and Dalmiya’s connection ad nausuem.
Ganguly has been dropped because he will not play ball with Chappell, since he has his own ways of going about things. This makes it purely a power struggle between coach and captain and the captain has been defeated and replaced by a coach’s stooge. Simple. It happens in the corporate world—it happens elsewhere. But puleeze let’s not apply “Fair and Handsome” onto this mess and pretend that it has anything to do with “vision”.
If the team is happy without Sourav as press reports indicate, why were some of the same players so eager to speak out in his favour till the Board had to forcibly stop them from speaking to the Press? Harbhajan came out strongly in favor of Ganguly, Yuvraj gave a more political correct statement of support. Sehwag also wanted to come out. Now Sourav must have done something right to warrant players coming out in support of him——even at the cost of upsetting their equations with a coach who has shown that he does not welcome democratic dissent.
And Cricinfo. Man I used to really like these guys—unlike the guys at TOI they understand their cricket. They still do I think but in the Ganguly issue have totally lost their objectivity.
Ever since I read that Ganguly does not give them quotable quotes and instead pampers to a select coterie of journalists —I knew that the staffers were waiting with their knives out ready to plunge it in when he slipped up. And slip up he did and out came the daggers. A picture of Cricinfo staffers with Rahul Dravid and Mohammed Kaif, who had dropped in for a casual visit, kind of hinted which way the PR river was flowing.
Anand Vasu opines:
For all he has contributed to this team, Ganguly deserved a better farewell – if indeed that’s what this is – than being abruptly dropped. He deserved to walk away into the sunset, head held high, not be nudged out, first by coach, then the media, the public, and finally the selectors. But then again, with his batting, his behavior and his almost stubborn refusal to let go, he barely gave anyone a chance to do any better by him.
What behavior Mr Vasu? The bad behavior of snubbing Cricinfo reporters? Or the behavior alluded to by the “proven-to-be-lies” accusations by the coach? Batting—do you mean his century on a green pitch (prepared by Ganguly fans to aid his demise) against a bunch of bowlers, most of whom have played for India? [ As to Ganguly’s poor run with the bat, even Sachin has had a dreadful time of late, before the first two matches—-so let’s not split hairs…what counts is IMMEDIATE form]
Or is it the fact that he refuses to throw in the towel that irritates you? The fact that he is fighting hard at the nets, the fact that he is not backing out, the fact that he has regained his form?
A word of advice from a parochial Bong for Mr Vasu and his other friends at ihateganguly.com or whatever that site is called. Please go to Alipore Zoo and see a Royal Bengal tiger. Old, haggard, underfed ….kept in an enclosed space that’s dirty and damp. People throw rubbish, taunt and laugh and the regal beast sits there—unmoved, immune to the humiliation. But just come into his cage and see what he can do—a few people who jumped into the tiger’s cage to garland the benign beast found out to their dismay when they were reduced to ribbons.
Similarly, the fire still burns inside Royal Bengal Ganguly ——-and as the fools jeer and mock him he continues tirelessly determined to come back. In glory.
You are right Mr Vasu. Sourav shall not go away.
And neither shall we, his “parochial” supporters.