Que Vadis

As I write this, India is being hammered by South Africa, Agarkar has given 41 runs in 5 overs bowling on a track that Cricinfo calls “surprisingly green” —in other words, for a long-suffering Indian fan, its business as usual.

But what was exceptional was the lead-up. And everything that was not going on in the field of play.

Over the last month, Ganguly has been rendered friendless. Its not that he had a lot of friends to begin with—I have touched upon anti-Ganguly bias and the media’s persistent grudge against him in previous posts—-as an example exhibit I produce, this amazingly astute comparison between Ganguly and Dravid’s captaincy.

The purpose of this post is not to take potshots at the writer of the piece but a point in passing—Ganguly played with the same players in all the matches of the WC, dear genius, is because this was the friggin World Cup where teams do not experiment but go in with whats already been tested and tried . Wait till the next WC and tell me if Dravid-Chappell keep changing the team composition and batting order while the Cup is in progress.

A weird fellowship of Ganguly-supporters has emerged—-the portly Arjuna Ranatunga, the Australian umpire Daryl Harper and the person everyone wants on their side in the event of a dog fight— Rupa Ganguly.

Truth be told I have always been partial to Rupa Ganguly ever since her exquisitely curved waist was used to market the aerodynamically styled bottles of a cooking oil on Kolkata TV—I think the cooking oil was “Dhara” but forgive me, dear readers, I was not looking at the label of the damned cooking oil when the ad was on.

For those not privileged to have seen the advertisement, Rupa Ganguly attained minor fame with a revealing scene or two (revealing as per the prevailing standards in early 90s) in “Meena Bazar” along with Poonam Dasgupta. But what catapulted her into public consciousness was her role as the Paanch Patiyon wali Draupadi on DD and a stellar acting performance.

But as usual, the MSM got it wrong. They went to town saying that Rupa Ganguly on behalf of some cine artists of Bengal asked for a boycott of Indias match vs South Africa at the Eden in protest against Ganguly (Sourav that is)’s non-inclusion.

What she actually did was that she threatened not to tie her hair up till it was washed with the blood of Greg Chappell and Kiran More.

So where do I, supposedly parochial Bengali, stand on this ? In my humble opinion, the call to boycott an engagement where the Indian cricket team was playing is farcical. While Bengalis may feel aggrieved at the treatment meted out to Sourav Ganguly and the Bengali bashing that goes on in the name of anti-Gangulyism (a topic covered in detail here) [Note: this post took in so many comments that I stopped replying mainly because 1) nothing new for me to say 2) the post took on a nasty “regional” name-calling turn which I did not want to be a part of ], there can be no rational reason to boycott a game of cricket on the basis of that.

A true cricket lover goes to see a match because he loves the game and because he loves his team. As simple as that.

Unfortunately, it something even Rahul Dravid got it wrong when in a press conference he said:

People of Kolkata have always responded to me and I get more fan mail from here than from anywhere else.”

Yes Rahul you do. This is because Calcuttans love for Sourav and their love for you are not in conflict—we love both of you. And we love Sachin too. But the point to be made is that the game is above the individuals concerned—-hence whether the bulk of your fanmail comes from Kolkata is moot.

In summary, if the only reason you come to watch a cricket match is to see a Bengali play then there is something really wrong with your appreciation of the game.

But again as I pointed out before, much of this parochialism comes as a reaction —note this piece from Cybernoon (a newspaper…not someone’s personal blog)

His (Ganguly’s) claim to the place was fostered by the fact that the Bengali Babu could not see a match for five days without Dada Ganguly and took to the road threatening a ban on the Test .

Now take this test. A lot of us Kolkatans have seen that a section of our Muslim population in Kolkata and elsewhere burst crackers when Pakistan wins. Again note a section. Now imagine a MSM outlet writing something along the lines of the above quote where the bengali babu is replaced by Muslims. All of us would be shouting “communal” (and rightfully so too)…..but since its Bengalis who are being labelled in Narendra Modi-Bal Thackeray style, everyone is silent.

Not to speak of the fact that “Sourav’s selection was because of the Bengali people’s dadagiri” is downright false.

Such media reactions still do not however justify asking for a call to boycott the national team. But the way that supposedly respectable media outlets are engaging in downright regional hatespeak is also condemnable. In this context, a piece I quoted before and published in Rediff also bears scrutiny.

The zamindars began to exploit the farmers for more and more and also, they themselves did nothing to develop the land’s productivity. In fact, zamindari lifestyle meant doing nothing. Any kind of physical activity was looked down upon, and this can still be seen in Bengal.Bihar was created because of the supercilious superiority attitude of the Bengalis and because some of the Kayasthas (one of Bihar’s smallest forward castes) resented the Bengalis domination of the British Raj administration.

Would it have been possible to publish such blatant prejudice in the name of any other identity-based-group in a widely-read mainstream website without widespread outrage? I would think not.

I can say for myself that my support of Sourav has never been blind. True as I mentioned before, anti-Bengali barbs do provoke an emotional reaction from me but that does not mean I am going to let go of all reason. Because I want India to win. Period.

Sourav’s main problem is that his technical shortcomings have been exposed against decent quality seam attacks. In this context, I personally do not read much into his 5 wicket haul and 159 runs against Maharashtra in Ranji matches—-as a matter of fact this is even more alarming. It shows that Sourav is not off-form, he is still good but only against attacks that lack penetrating pace power.

Sourav should be told, in no uncertain terms by the powers that be, that this Test series is his last attempt in the national team. He has to demonstrate that he still has it in him to tackle the highest quality of seam attacks—-and a Test series is the only way to show it. He has had many chances before and with decent replacements waiting in the wings, he has one series left. Just one.

If he does not, then it is goodbye for him. Simple.

However things wont be as simple as that. Because this is no longer about cricket. Its about the gutter.

Because Greg Chappell is prepared to battle on for non-cricketing reasons against Sourav. He fought tooth and nail against Ganguly’s inclusion on the basis of his “disruptive influence” a charge he could not prove when given a chance. And then he shows the finger to a Kolkata crowd—-an amazing gesture from a coach. Was Greg provoked? Read on. (TOI)

‘Maharaj’ Sourav Ganguly’s absence from the Eden ensured that all eyes would be on the incensed 75,000-strong Kolkata crowd during the fourth one-dayer against South Africa on Friday. Would they boo Ganguly’s nemesis Greg Chappell, or even worse, disrupt the proceedings? As it turned out, any fears of fan violence were thoroughly misplaced: Instead, as Rahul Dravid’s men trudged towards a massive 10-wicket mauling, it was Chappell himself who was left red-faced for an unwarranted obscene gesture at the crowd on the eve of the match. ………..

There was no doubt about that for, as the camera showed, the gesture was not to anyone in the bus. He stuck his hand out of the window and outside was a heckling mob.

Indian fans might be a tad too emotional for Chappell’s tastes, but they don’t deserve such disrespect. After all, they did give Dravid a standing ovation when he walked out to bat.

Now dear Chappell fans which includes the Cricinfo staff……who is reacting emotionally here? The national coach or the “parochial Kolkata fans” who gave Dravid a standing ovation? When was the last time a man who has scored more than 10,000 runs (Ganguly) got a standing ovation at any ground in India?

But hold on there is another side of the story according to NewIndiaPress. According to them, it was Dravid who was jeered and only Sachin who was cheered. Of course its now a sin to jeer after a team loses a match by 10 wickets—Eden Gardens is the only place where a badly defeated team has been booed . Yeah right !

Whats even more serious is this:

In fact, the setting for the shame at Eden was in place on Thursday when the Indian team came across an unusually greenish pitch that favored the superior South African pace attack. While curator Prabir Mukherjee claimed that it was a “sporting wicket”, it’s learnt that Dravid and coach Greg Chappell had wanted the grass to be cut.

Shame???Holy smoke! Doesn’t Greggie want us to come out of our comfort zones? Then why ask for grass to be cut? Does he plan to ask the guy in Barbados to do the same during the next World Cup?

Now I cast my mind back when Sourav asked for the grass to be cut on another sporting pitch…remember guys? Then the press went to town ridiculing Ganguly for being scared and for pissing in his pants because an “international quality, sporting track” was prepared. [ Steve Waugh in his book talked about Ganguly’s interacting with groundsmen all over India —an act he found akin to matchfixing. Certainly an act closer to matchfixing than the innocent phone calls his brother Mark exchanged with bookies telling them about the “weather”. ]

But now since Dravid is the captain, its the curator who is to blame…..and why because he is part of a larger conspiracy to make India lose because Sourav is not part of the team !!!!

If the guy at NewIndiaPress had any knowledge of the Eden pitch, he would know that there is always juice on the pitch for the first few overs. The ball swings around—remember how in 1998 Srinath reduced Pakistan to 50 for 6 or something—and around 2:30–3:00 there is a breeze that blows in from the Ganga that makes batting difficult (remember the amazing Shoaib Akhtar spell in the same Test match). Balwinder Singh Sandhu and Roger Binny once reduced the mighty Windies to 30 for 5 odd at around the same time in the afternoon (Clive Llyod and Andy Roberts later salvaged the situation) in 1983 and in 87 again around the same time, Binny bowled an inspired spell where he triggerred a collapse in the Pakistani batting order aided by some prodigious swing.

But knowledge of the game is no longer a pre-requisite for commenting about the game in the media….. …cricket is now the last thing on people’s minds.

Que Vadis Team India. Que Vadis.

[Update1: Anand Vasu, perhaps the most biased of all Cricinfo journalists says:

But you could not help wondering if the crowd roared in appreciation of an innings well played, or because India minus their darling, Sourav Ganguly, were getting thumped.

This is nothing but pure unsubstantiated conjecture (I wonder….) designed to cause mischief and vitiate the atmosphere even further and a clear violation of all standards of journalistic objectivity and impartiality.]

[Update 2: Excellent article by Prem Panicker in Rediff. Must read,]

[ I just discovered that Prem is closing his blog due to the level of abuse being indulged in by BOTH sides. Guys in case you want to make a comment, keep it civilized and related to cricket and media coverage (not which city has potholes or whose mother does what)—-and that applies to both sides. In my previous post on Ganguly, I let things go because I strongly dislike moderation. (The only comments I deleted there were related to mothers and sisters ) Maybe that was a mistake. This time I shall be stricter.

Civilized disagreements are of course welcome

There is no abuse or allegations against any community on this post and I shall tolerate none in the comments section. Any comments that attack a community (ANY community) will be removed as soon as I see it. I have not enabled comment moderation and trust my readers to keep everything cool and above the belt.

Thank you.]

49 thoughts on “Que Vadis

  1. First of all, I find the concept of a “sporting wicket” too idiotic for words. Is the definition of a sporting wicket one that improves chances of victory for the visitors? If so, when did India get a “sporting wicket” on one of their tours. The host country is supposed to prepare wickets that suit them, that is how cricket is played and that is why it is harder to win matches abroad, notwithstanding what Steve Waugh says (its amazing how that otherwise great player has nothing to but crib whenever he talks about Ganguly). If Indian batsmen need to learn how to play fast bowling, “sporting wickets” can be prepared for domestic matches.

    Secondly, “sporting wickets” have not actually been prepared for “sporting” reasons. The Nagpur wicket was sportingly-green when the test series against Australia was delicately poised.. only because it was an anti-incumbent-BCCI-president local cricket board that didn’t want to give the taken-for-granted-home-ground-advantage to a Ganguly captained India. Sadly, Kolkata showed itself to be no better, putting pro-Ganguly (or more precisely, anti-Dravid/ Chappell) sentiments ahead of India’s interests (we can safely assume that there would be no grass if Ganguly was the captain, so it was only because of regionalism). The visitors must be laughing while what is literally a made-to-order pitch is handed to them on a platter by their divided hosts themselves. That said, India’s batting and bowling were both miserable.. such a comprehensive defeat cannot be attributed to the pitch alone.

  2. How do we propose to win outside if we just are interested in playing dead wickets in India? I understand that sporting wickets means that it renders support to both bowlers and batsmen – what’s wrong with that? Of course, we have a right to get whatever pitch we want as any country does. How come Chappel has taught the Indian team to play in pitches other than dead ones. We have high expectations from him and his experiemnts.

  3. @Debashish:

    Objection 1: It is extremely unfair to suppose that all the pitches in a country should be favourable to the home country. Yes I definitely think that there should be a concept of home advantage but that does not mean that all the pitches in India have to be spin-friendly dust bowls. West Indies has had its Port of Spain, Australis has had Sydney (it also has WACA )…

    Objection 2: If India under Chappell seeks to compete with Australia for the crown of Best Test team, they will have to play and win on foreign turf ….they will have to play SA, England, NZ all on seamer friendly pitches. And playing domestic cricket on fast tracks is a evolutionary process—right now we need to administer shock treatment. And come on isnt this all about stepping out of our comfort zones?

    Objection 3: This series has been touted as preparation for WC. In WI , we will encounter fast pitches and we will have to be ready.

    Objection 4: Well not really objection because you do say that the performance of the players was sub-par.

    The conditions should have been more or less the same for both teams (yes on certain days there is this breeze that really helps pacers)—-then how come we got shot out for 180 odd and they didnt even lose a wicket ! Come on we have pace bowlers too.

    Speaking of which Agarkar goes for 41 in 5 and the only real threat is from Bhajji on what is supposed to be a pacers track !

    And well you can assume a lot of things but as I said this is not the first time curators have left grass on a pitch and this is not the first time that Indians have suffered. Was there always the parochial aspect then?

    Just before this Ganguly in a Duleep trophy match played on a greentop when he was on “trial”(where he scored a centuty)—how come you were silent then ? (I still maintain that greentops need to be prepared)

    In conclusion, India encounters India-friendly pitches on foreign countries too and rather than pointing fingers at parochialism, it is time to take note of the *real* problems of the Indian team.

    @Dave_DJ: Agree totally.

  4. Have been a long-time reader of your blog. But, commenting for the first time.
    Unfortunately, it seems I am among a very small minority who loves Ganguly, Sachin and Dravid, all three of them. A minority that you too are a part of. I have had heated debates with friends and colleagues on the Ganguly issue (if it is an issue), and have always held the opinion that the best-11 (with the introduction of super-sub, the best-12) players should be out there on the field. And, I believe Ganguly deserves a place in the team on that merit alone. If someone points at his ‘abysmal’ record, I contend that “Either your cricketing memory is restricted to the last 5 ODIs or your English is pathetic.” I mean, here is a pleyer who has scored over 10000 runs in ODIs and still people have the audacity to point out his so-called poor record. For the cricketing-challenged, its called form. And, each and every player (apart from Sir Don) in the history of the game has suffered from one. When Tendulkar fails for five to six innings in a row, arm chair experts flash the famous “Form is Temporary, Class is Permanent” card. But, if Ganguly fails, out comes the dagger. Agreed, he hasn’t been playing well. But, if you select players like Venugopal Rao and Suresh Raina (good players in their own right) over Saurav Ganguly, all in the name of experimenting with the team for the 2007 World Cup, you are doing a big mistake. Look at what happened when Dinesh Mongia was preferred over VVS Laxman for the 2003 World Cup. OK, a few of you are inclined to ask, Who Dinesh Mongia???
    This brings me to another point, the entire talk of PLANNING for the ’07 WC is a big farce. No team ever won the WC b’coz of a two-year plan. And, I repeat NO TEAM. It is the team that plays well over a month-long period that wins. PERIOD.
    And, oh yes, sending Irfan Pathan to open the innings. Imagine, what would have been the media reaction had Gaunguly been at the helm of affairs. But, oh no. It was the Dravid-Chappell combine who masterminded it, all with the ’07 WC in mind. As if, Pathan will be opening at the next WC.
    Arnab, I completely agree with your point that Saurav should be told in no uncertain terms, “If you fail in this series, you will be out of the Test team.” But, when someone questions the very fact of his existence in the team, that makes me crazy.
    Yesterday, I was discussing about the behaviour of the Eden Gardens crowd with a good friend of mine. And, he made it sound as if Ganguly was himself personally responsible for what happened. Sure, cheering a batsman when he gets out looks cheap. But, the Indian public has often indulged in much more cheaper antics. Plastic bottle throwing, pitch digging, etc, etc.
    People who do not understand the difference between a full-toss and a long-hop or a long-off and a long-on or a cover drive and a hook, it would be much better if you all stopped mouthing your expert comments.

  5. Edited version of comment of Partha:

    todays news channel points to the fact that the green top wicket is an indication of inviting foreigners to rule against us. Its again we Bongs are inviting foreigners to rule against us. well its again ineviidently points the fact that its because of sourav’s exclusion that such a wicket has been prepared and goes on jabbering about how disappointed chappel was before he showed the middle finger to a section of crowd. i earlier said that dada kare to balatkar, baki kare to chamatkar.
    now i will say that bongs kare to balatkar, baki kare to chamatkar.

    Remember when shivsena dug the pitch when we were to play pakistan. Then no one said it was the marathi’s who should be responsible for such an act.

    well yes the home team should have the wicket advantage, but what did you do in nagpur vs australia. well tum karo to chamatkar …
    Now dravid says the team is united. Did Sourav ever need to specify that the team was united. HMMMMMMM . food for thoughts .

    now should sachin be dropped. I watched a Sandip Patil, saying sachin is like amitabh bacchan, his films flop but he still does film, he is a super star. so 8 innings without a double figure score. looks like the new recipie to cook maggie.

    Proud to be a BONG

    [Partha: Your comment had certain points which I felt were off-topic and mildly inflammatory. I do not want this discussion to go off-topic eg which community produced the most freedom fighters. I have edited out those points because you still make other valid remarks that reflect a point of view.

    Based on my experience on the past discussion, I hope you understand why I am being proactive in this regard]

  6. [Edited version of red devil’s comment]

    Hey Mr.Greatbong , you got a great blog. Agree totally with what you say with regard to the Bengali-bashing. I study in an engineering college in Bangalore and have alot of Bengali friends. So I know Bengalis well. Inspite of being total idiots who have been voting for a freaking communist party for the last few decades , and despite their irritating homo-erotic obsession with Saurav Ganguly , have their heart in the right place.

    (I hope this comment wont get deleted. Sorry if any offence caused)

    [red_devil: You got it correct. There was one part of your comment that *seemed* to justify violence directed against a section and again like before I have edited that part out but kept the part of Bengali’s homoerotic obsession with Ganguly as thats something that definitely deserves to be mentioned.



  7. Greatbong ,

    No sir , I did not justify violence against anybody. It was you who said something about Indian muslims bursting crackers whenever Pakistan beats India at cricket. All I said was if that is true then anti-national elements deserve no sympathy.

    Well – guess I did justify violence…but only against those who live in India but hate India and seek joy in India’s defeats .

  8. I know many people who were not very sad to see India lose, and a lot more who did not go to watch the match because Ganguly was’nt playing or who went only to boo Dravid & Chappell. Regionalism is much worse than communalism.

  9. This is for Ganguly
    Sachin in positions 1 & 4, chances for Dinesh Karthik, Parthiv
    Ganguly coming in positions 1, 2,3,4,5

    It was during Ganguly’s time that we had a bowling coach (Srinath), Fielding Coach (Kaif & Yuvraj) within the team to help everyone..isnt this devolution ?

    Gave teh confidence to the Indian Team to stand their ground and talk back
    Example: Even Parthiv Patel found the guts to sledge Steve Waugh. We gave back to Australia what they had dished to us earlier

    Being prepared is winning half teh war. You dont want your opponents to know your strategy right? so why this cry against using smokescreens.
    Didnt he transparently stand for his teammates and didnt make any deals with board members for favours in selection

  10. OK, let me state that I also share geneology with Ganguly and the writer of this blog before I begin.
    Arnab, I agree with the point that you have made before that many Bongs get tarred with ‘Tera khiladi ne kya kad diya’ whenever Ganguly used to underperform – however I believe that this was also due to the fact that Ganguly himself never did try to stop the ‘Prince of Calcutta’ statements.
    I do think Ganguly is a good player, but yes he does have a weakness against top-class fast bowling. Though he has done enough to warrant at least a decent final shot at cricket.
    Now, I also think the Cal crowd was mild yesterday – a ten wicket loss and the way India lost the match (almost as if to punish Calcuttans for having dared to produce Ganguly – ‘we hate you so we’ll lose’). An insipid performance like yesterdays should be whipped. And it was surprising to see the press gloss over yesterday. I’m going to watch tomorrow’s match and I would like to see how the wankhede crowd behaves…

  11. I agree with you that Ganguly has been unfairly treated. And he would’nt have been treated so, had he realized that he was walking precariously on the edge. He (wrongly) felt that a century against Zimbabwe was enough to keep his hold on the captaincy, and went overboard with his comments in the press conference and the email leak.
    About your take on Bengali-bashing,I would like to make a point here. I
    dont think you have had such instances where even the state chief minister comes out in a player’s support(not to mention Bengali filmstars).Maybe you can forgive people’s protests,but celebrities too? I am not anti-Bengali, but this regionalist attitude is very much evident, isn’t it?
    So to cut it short, this Bengali-bashing is not without reason.

  12. i find it really hard to believe (especially since its indiatimes), that chappell actually showed the finger to the Kolkata crowd, who would’ve been justified in showering him and his team with plastic bottles, air gun pellets etc for their performance! (just kidding). If the state chief minister comes out in support of someone, couldn’t he (imho) be speaking like just another ordinary fan? “no…it just those bongs!”

    i lived in kolkata for around a decade, and at the time, i found the fascination for Ganguly amusing and sometimes even irritating. in hindsight, i can think of only one reason…that after a long time, a skilled batsman and even better captain, had emerged from Bengal (who would go on to become the most successful Indian captain). reason for pride…absolutely.

    i came to gujarat, and here front page headlines used to consist of Parthiv Patel making it to the team, Parthiv Patel failing to pass matriculation etc. and then i thought that it must be a matter of pride to a cricket fan in any region if “one of theirs” makes it to the Best XI in a country of over a billion. it is probably something which a guy like me would never understand because my feelings are usually only from the pov of India as a whole (for eg. i’d be ecstatic if an indian team reached the world cup of football…who wouldn’t?)

    the best way for all this to end, is for Ganguly to come back and smash a couple of centuries in the upcoming Test series (not necessarily a happy ending for the selectors though) because if the Royal Bengal Tiger has to go out, I would prefer that he went out in style…in a blaze of glory.

  13. was hoping that you’d post on this. I’m told that fireworks went off in new alipore yesterday. Really no difference between that and certain sections of certain communities setting off firecrackers when Pakistan beats India. I mean, of course, the base motive is different, and there they’re not so much shouting against India as they’re shouting for Pakistan. Here, the case was the opposite. I can completely understand the rationale though, and like you, have been at the receiving end many-a-time. Still, rather unconscionable, I’d say. On the other hand, if I watch the game for the game’s sake (which I do, incidentally- which is why I’ve always supported the aussies, even against India, and attracted angry stares from a packed Eden crowd for shouting “Go, Warnie”), and I feel my favourite player has been unfairly dumped, then there shouldn’t be anything wrong with my booing “my” team. Or should there?

  14. Arnab and dave_dj:

    Regarding “sporting wickets”, I wasn’t looking at it from the point of view of preparing for fast foreign pitches or the WC, although that is definitely an important angle and I don’t disagree with you. Even then, there are different degrees and better ways of doing it. I consider it foolish to prepare such a strongly opposition-friendly pitch when we are in a must-win situation in a series (if we consider this entire one-day series (and even the must-win Nagpur test against Australia?) only as an experiment, then of course it’s a different issue). Isn’t it wiser to experiment when we manage to take an initial lead or when we have already won the series with matches remaining (as in the recently concluded Sri Lanka series).

    Granted, it’s an evolutionary process in domestic matches and I don’t have any information as to whether any general progress in attitudes has been made on that front. Ganguly’s Duleep Trophy century did come on a greentop, but it is again far from certain that the greentop was prepared for cricketing reasons. At least one report I read about that match speculated that the greentop was prepared specifically to make Ganguly’s “trial” even more difficult for him (the hosting state/local/whatever cricket association for that match belongs to the anti-Dalmiya camp)… I do not have the link handy but I can try to search for it if you want to see it. So, if the in-the-news fast pitches seem to have been prepared to score points in India’s internal cricketing politics, that is hardly a sign of enlightenment. As for the high expectations from Chappell and his experiments, everybody shares those but let’s not kid ourselves… so many reports state that Chappell and Dravid asked the curator to shave the grass from the Eden Gardens wicket.. and when he did not heed their request, they sent in Irfan Pathan to open in the lame hope that he would be able to shield Tendulkar for some time from the new ball.. sounds more like an experiment they did not want to conduct in the first place and when they had to, they were afraid to expose their opening batsman – who btw, apart from his demi-god status, is so experienced that this match brought him the record for most one-days caps… I hardly think opening with Irfan Pathan is an experimental strategy for the WC or anything else.

  15. So its true then – that Indian muslims cheer for Pakistan against India ? Huh?

  16. Arnab – I agree with your assertion that much of the apparent parochialism comes in as a reaction to the tendency of a section of people to use this as an occasion to hurl abuses at Bengalis.

    I have seen this in the other post you talked about (and which you very sensibly closed for comments)
    A rude personal comment was met with a “Oh you Bengalis are …. ” style response instead of ramaining a difference of opinion between two individuals.

    The anti-Ganguly media-bias has always been there — ever since Saurav made that splendid return to international cricket. Most of the national dailies have large circulations in places like Mumbai and Bangalore and clearly there is a local cricket board – media nexus at work which can explain the comments partly.

    On the face of it – just by reading the comments on the net one might be tempted to think that the rest of India thinks of people from our part of the country as “untermenschen” (inferior people – nicely translated). Our so-called “national dailies” are allowing their websites to be abused by these people who are presumably trying to ‘put the Bongs in their place’.

    In case you want an example of how communities react when they are abused please visit Google and search for the string “am I safe in Bangalore” (do an exact string search). You can see how the original poster was forced to nearly beg for mercy simply because he wrote a few uncomplimentary paragraphs about Bangalore. I haven’t seen anything similar to this from any Bengali.

    Unless we unite to counter the abuse in an organised way we would never move beyond protesting by applauding the opposition in cricket matches. We don’t really need to counter abuse with abuse but we can certainly try mailing the editors on leading newspapers en-masse to register our disgust at how they have allowed the online editional to become a platform for filthy anti-Bengali sentiments.

  17. Debashish,

    As far as I know, preparation of a pitch takes lot more time than a few days or a couple of weeks. I am pretty sure that when they prepared the pitch, they weren’t aware of India’s tally in the current series. The only control just before the match is in shaving the grass.

    I absolutely agree with you that preparing pace-friendly pitch for scoring points in the internal bickering of the officials is unacceptable.

    I don’t think the grass made any difference in the game, the toss did to some extent but Dravid is furtunately luckier than Ganguly in winning them. What I don’t believe is that a good team’s fortune should depend on winning a toss. Yuvraj and Kaif played there and showed we can play on the pitch. Dravid and Tendulkar have been not at their best in last couple of games and they are talented enough to handle any pitch. Shewag played true to his ODI average. Gambhir and Dhoni probably failed after some time. Dravid, Tendulkar and Shewag were all due for good score and they all failed and we wasted Pathan on the top. There was our problem – pitch is being made villain for our loss.

    – dave_dj

  18. “Nothing obscene about it, Team India management shields Chappell”

    “I have spoken to Chappell. He told me that while giving fielding practice to the players, he injured a finger. He was only attending to the finger in the team bus,” said Indian team’s media manager M Baladitya to newspersons.


  19. kaashyapeya:

    Well said. I agree with you that there’s nothing wrong with booing India… patriotism is way overrated in my opinion, and its perfectly normal to root for the people you consider as having a better attitude/work-ethic/culture rather than letting your national/whatever identity dictate your support. So, like you said, nothing wrong with booing “my” team.
    That said, just for argument’s sake, let’s again look at the criticism of Bengalis booing India. Before Arnab points out again that it is only a section of the Bengali crowd, let me say that I do not consider that to be the last word. Its always a section and perhaps every community has a section that would react like this. It’s just that that section seems to be larger in some communities than others and that’s why they are criticized more. I do not claim to have any evidence to suggest that this section among Bengalis is one of the larger-than-normal ones. I am merely saying that perhaps the rest of the country perceives that to be the case (rightly or wrongly) and hence the greater criticism. Same goes for the Muslims.


    In my last comment on sporting wickets, I countered dave_dj’s praise of Chappell in his first comment (which you said you “agree totally” with) by pointing out that Chappell himself was afraid of the grass and wanted it shaved. I forgot that you had made the same criticism in your blog itself and since my reply was addressed to both of you, apologies for that.


    One point I forgot to mention before: Isn’t it far-fetched and far too soon to say that “Chappell has taught the Indian team to play in pitches other than dead ones” ?

  20. dave_dj: Right on about the limited importance of the toss and pitch for a good team to win a game. Dravid himself has been candid enough to acknowledge that.

    Btw, here’s one report on the pitch preparation for the last one-dayer:

  21. Arnab,
    I have a question. Would you have gone on to defend any other Indian captain with so much passion if it was not Ganguly, a Bengali?
    I feel that Ganguly has not done anything wrong except for going public – the Greg/Gang incident.
    But the replacements for Ganguly were not poor cricketers either. As you said it is not about the individual. A non Bengali that I am, I would like to see Ganguly back in action too. But his selection into the team as an “allrounder” is questionable. It will be a bigger insult for Ganguly to be in the fifteen and not play in the eleven. Don’t you agree. Then why push for his selection when he is not wanted. Ultimately the playing eleven will be decided by the manager and the captain who had openly expressed the need for Laxman. It’s going to be either Gambhir or Kaif/Yuvy who will suffer at Ganguly’s expense.
    When the team management tries to squeeze Ganguly in as an opener that Gambhir will suffer.

    I don’t have a problem with Ganguly in the onedayers whatsoever. He has always fared better in the shorter version.
    Now if you say that the Test selectors did not have pressure to include Ganguly, I cannot but laugh.

    Whether I agree or disagree, your writing blows my mind. Keep it up.

  22. I hate the media for being so biased.
    i love rahul dravid, but the way ganguly is being unfairly criticised is sick.


  23. @Dhananjay: There used to be a school of thought which used to say that tinkering with a batting lineup is a “bad” thing to do–especially when it is done with such randomness and frequency. However this same school of thought are now shaking their head in agreement just because they “like” Greg and Rahul. I have pointed this out before: Ganguly was selective as to whom he gave his quotable quotes to—which is why all the presswallahs he ignored before are ganging up against him now.

    @red_devil: No violence against people who live inside India and support Pakistan cannot be condoned. Not violence. Condemnation yes. Ostracization–yes. But violence–no. As long as a section is not indulging in violent anti-national activities, violence cannot be used.

    @Srin: Its very sad then. Again I understand how this ceaseless anti-Ganguly tirade hardens the minds of otherwise-non-parochial Bengalis (like it does to mine sometimes) but celebrating Indias defeat is something diff.

    Want to make a point here. When people say words to the effect :” Oh I am happy India lost”…one should not go too much into that..its like saying “I want to murder my husband”…just an expression of discontent rather than a serious alienation of affections.

    @Madhu: Well said.

    @K: Yes of course. The blame-Kolkata section of the press is pretty strong. It seems to be a now sin to boo the captain and chief batsman of a team (who contributed 6 and 2 respectively) which just got blasted out by 10 wickets…as if Eden Gardens is the only place that happens. I remember the countless number of time Sourav has been booed at the presentation ceremony—needless to say noone raises a stink then.

    @Harsh: I am not aware that Buddhadeb came out with a support for Ganguly…I would appreciate a link. Again Harsh as I have touched on this time and again, who caused what (did anti-Ganguly bias cause a upsurge in “hes our boy” feeling or the other way round) is debatable.

    @Anon: There are now pictures which Wisden still annotates at “allegedly” of Chappie flipping the bird…oh sorry tending to his injured middle finger.

    @Arka: There is a difference. First the depth of feeling. A section of this certain community, over the years, has shown its anti-India allegiance in a consistently virulent fashion.As to the Bengalis who celebrated –it was a one off thing, not to be taken seriously and only an expression of digust prompted by this totally regionally biased stereotyped reporting that they are being bombarded with.

    While I do believe that its not an offense to support the other side, its unpatriotic and contemptible. I respect your right to support Australia and you have to respect my right to boo you too 🙂

    @Debashish: Its an issue that none of our sport writers even whisper—why does the worlds best batsman need to be shielded? And that too by Irfan pathan and not so long ago by Sourav himself? When Sachin was asked to go 2 down in 2001, he strongly refused to do so and we all know why. And yet when the pitch is green, he is willing to go down the batting order. How come noone raises a stink about this?

    @Krishna: Writing to editors is hardly going to have an effect unless its backed by action. In an ideal world, the way to protest against regionalistically biased articles would be to refuse to financially patronize the concerned media outlet in any way and let that fact be “known” through alternate channels.

    However as I said this is an ideal world. If I stop visiting Cricinfo, does it matter to the biased Anand Vasu? No. Thats why I write about it here….so that at least the handful of people who read my blog can see the other side of the story.

    @Rajesh: Thank you. To your question, my answer is yes I have gone the extra mile because Sourav is from Bengal. I have justified this in a previous post where my point was that I was never a big Sourav fan till I came to US where I discovered, in mixed company, how Bong bashing and Sourav bashing drives one another. This led me to get associated with Sourav in such a manner that I have an emotional stake in this issue.

    At the same time, I would have objected if such biased, region-based treatment was being meted out to any player.

    @Phoenix: So it is.

  24. Dear Arnab,

    Wish I could use my [ample] sparetime to do something as fruitful as what you’ve been doing. You know what I’m speaking about… lyad

    In fact, I think now I’ll actually give blogging a shot. Its a great way to soothe frayed nerves.

    Anyway, here’s the video link of the Chappal incident [the misspelling is deliberate]


  25. You said : At the same time, I would have objected if such biased, region-based treatment was being meted out to any player.

    I ask: Why is there no mention about Laxman, Kumble, Zaheer Khan.

    The fate of almost all the Indian captains have been similar to what was meted out to Ganguly. Venkatraghavan, Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil, Shastri, Srikkanth and Azhar have had their share of problems during their captaincy. Some were thrown out directly. Some could sneak some time to announce their exit.
    But the public was always neutral. What is special here?

  26. @oldmanblues: Yes I know what ledh means.

    @Rajesh: The operative word is region-based. The examples you pointed out—did AP-ites have to put up with any of this regional idiocy and biased reporting targetted at them even though Raj Singh, who hails from AP kept on fighting for Azhar (but noone said parochialism there)?

    No they didnt.

    My objection is primarily to the villification of an entire community. And then of course when the community reacts to this ceaseless bias, and people go all awwww…..well that’s not fair

    Again I personally will never boo any Indian player but thats just me.

    I also feel that there are sufficient, purely cricket-related reasons for which Sourav can be overlooked—however those reasons have become secondary because what is being attacked is not his shortcoming against the rising ball but things like “attitude” and “he will cause division inside the team”—these objections smack of irrational personal vendetta on the part we-know-who.

    As an aside, right now I have removed a regionalist comment by “an indian” targetted at Bengalis…and will keep on doing so because I want this thread to be clean.

  27. Rajesh,

    You are right, and I’d like to include the names of Karthik, Nehra, Balaji in the list. I guess partly the reason why SG has found so much space in greatbongs blog is because he is a bong and therefore bang at the centre of his radar wavelength [but GB can himself elucidate about this better], and partly because the media has made this issue into such a spectacle, with undertones of public humiliation, hate mongering etc. And the fact that he was, for better or worse, the captain of the team.

    As for the other players… look at the names… VVS, Karthik, Nehra, Balaji, Zaheer are at various degrees SG proteges, and maybe the media gag by BCCI has actually prevented some more explosive statements from coming out from the above. In fact, I believe all three bowlers came out in support of SG before the gag and the media, in their frenzy buried these statements.

    It is no denying the fact that a major section of the media has had their daggers beneath their cloaks against SG for a long time, apparently because of his insistence at not entertaining non-Kolkata journos [not necessarily non-bong] in his private off-duty moments. That is to say, outside official press conferences. What I gather from journo friends is that he basically did not agree to kow-tow with the influential Star-ESPN combine and refused to give them exclusive interviews. Now that he is down, the daggers are out with a vengeance.

    I’ve also heard from the same sources, that he was especially nasty to Rajan Bala and R Mohan [mind you R Bala is a machh-bhaat Kolkatan by birth, so no regionalism here] after both were extremely critical of the team’s performance, while their names were being indirectly heard in relation to the match fixing case. All hearsay, so I cannot verify…

  28. @jester_030:

    Your comment has been removed because

    1)your comment is off-topic and designed to provoke the basest of sentiments in sync with what you said.

    2)What you said are prejudiced generalizations and adding “I am a Bengali” does not raise your credibility in any way.

  29. Sheesh. When will bongs give up mourning the treatment of Ganguly and let the others move on too? Cricketing history abounds with several examples of players of equal, if not greater calibre than Ganguly treated in a similar manner. The selectors felt that Ganguly didn’t deserve to be playing for India and that’s that. If Ganguly proves himself as a batsman in the Test series, then we shall see. Why is there so much debate about his fate now?

    And, oh, while I think you think of yourself as secular, let me tell you that your comments condoning Calcuttans actions in the last match while condemning Muslims, reeks of prejudice. They both wanted something which was not in the ineterests of India. (not that I think there is anything wrong with supporting a team which is not a person’s national team – I do that all the time)

  30. @Mayurakshi:

    I hope you read my post before commenting.

    I said “Just because a few Muslims support Pakistan, does not mean the entire Islamic community in India does so.”

    Similarly, “Just because a few Bengalis allegedly supported SA, does not mean that all Bengali Babus do so.”

    I find a section of Indian Muslims supporting Pakistan as condemnable. Similarly, I find Bongs supporting SA condemnable.

    I do not believe however that anyone can be “punished” on the basis of supporting the other side (a suggestion put forth by a commentator).


  31. This post has got too friggin’ long, but I can’t help adding to its length.

    The day India was routed at Eden – and it was a walloping if I’ve ever seen one – I got a sms from a Bengali friend of mine in Kol: “Given the high performance-based standards that has now been set for Team India, do you think Chappell should be dropped from the next match?” I couldn’t help smiling. Yes, take this performance biz to the level of absolutism, you’ll be unforgiving to any failure, Chappel’s included. Now, this kind of absolutism about performance is like a frightening kind of capitalism that doesn’t brook human foibles or follies, let alone failures. Take it a little forward, there’s little to differentiate between this and any kind of fundamentalism.

    Am I stretching the point? I don’t think so. Fundamentalism often becomes a tool to screw opponents on the basis of a bogus belief. In this case, Chappell has invoked a fundamentalism called performance to screw Ganguly who probably questioned his absolutist methodology. A bunch of supine cricket administrators, themselves under threat from an opposing camp, caved in to Chappell’s demands and Ganguly was sacrificed. (By the way, one of the biggest media misses has been its take on the fateful Mumbai meeting in which Ganguly and Chappell deposed – it reported a Ganguly victory whereas it was exactly the opposite.)

    Ganguly, of course, didn’t help his cause. He was playing badly and seemed lazy both on and off the ground. It was the same mental laziness which made him a sucker to the belief that he could skip the Challengers Trophy at Mohali and yet remain captain. He should have been dropped for this – I don’t have a quarrel with that. What I have a quarrel with is the nature of his removal. A spurious thing called performance was invoked – and strangely the guy was performing, statistically at least – as Sehwag or Sachin and denied the chance of quitting in grace. Instead, we as a people have acquiesced in an act of shocking ungratefulness towards a cricketer who revived Indian cricket and has served the game as well as any of its heroes.

    The good thing is that, pressed to the wall (no pun), Ganguly is fighting back. He has done this in the past. Remember him being dropped from the squad after his phenomenal debut in England? I don’t know if he’ll succeed, but I’ll be immensely pleased if he fights back for his pride and salavages some of it before bidding adieu to this game of sharks called cricket.

  32. The Blogger,

    I think one of the reasons that most sections are writing against Bengalis is because they are actually venting out against the Communists.
    Rest of Indians can’t fathom why communists are still going strong in Bengal when they have given it nothing but poverty and class feuds. All this after Bengalis are one of the most intellectual and culturally oriented people in India.
    And to me its just almost like any other thing, for example, there are so many sardarji jokes, there are so many haryanavi jokes about a certain section, among others.

    Personally, I used to be a fan of Gangulybhai until I heard about him using politics to keep his place. He has instilled a pride in Indian cricket that no one, including much more accomplished players, except probably Kapil Dev, could instill. His legacy will not be easily forgotten, even if he doesn’t play any more cricket with the Indian team. But if he can’t get back to the team, a great talent will be gone, and frankly, it won’t just be because of his lack of talents. He’s the original ‘original’ guy

  33. My take…

    As far as the (now legendary) finger goes…it’s no big deal. Just “road-rage”, and it’s more than high time that we stopped over reacting to it. What with the actors guild boycott, and some innane statements from politicians (and Calcutta’s favorite pass time…effigy burning), i’d have some road-rage too. Lets leave it at that.

    As far as Saurav goes…..he really was an outstanding ODI batsman, but only modest in tests. But I don’t think his career is over. I do think though that the (supremely useless) BCCI and selection committee needs to lay down some ground rules.

    If Ganguly really works on his fitness and fielding (the present team has no place for sloppy fielders…..but can fit in an average fielder who’s a superb batsman), shows commitment to the team’s work ethic, there’s no reason for him not to be in the ODI team….even through the next worldcup. Saurav is one of the cleanest hitters of the ball ever seen in cricket, and can be devastating in the middle overs against spinners.

    As far as tests go…….he’s got his last chance in the Sri Lanka series. If he does well….he goes to Pakistan (to be tested agains pace…..SL have none of that…especially playing in India). If not……it’s not fair to keep Yuvraj (or Kaif) out indefinitely.

    And Saurav is NOT a batting all rounder. That’s the year’s biggest joke. His last test wicket was some 5 years ago.

  34. “@Rajesh: The operative word is region-based. The examples you pointed out—did AP-ites have to put up with any of this regional idiocy and biased reporting targetted at them even though Raj Singh, who hails from AP kept on fighting for Azhar (but noone said parochialism there)?”

    The reason no one shouted parochialism then was because Raj Singh Dungarpur is not an APite! He happens to be the Raja of Dungarpur, and as you probably know all Rajas come from Rajasthan. : ))

  35. @Anon: My apologies. Dungarpur is from rajasthan but as far as I know he used to represent Hyderabad cricket association (or supported by—he was then the BCCI powerman) when he made Azhar the captain. Since this happened in pre-internet days, I am unable to find a link for this.

    As an example, Raj Singh used to represent represent Central Zone (I dont know what he represents now) while Rungta represented Rajasthan.

    And all Rajas were in Rajasthan? What about Scindia? Bengal had a few Rajas too…

    @Sunil: Yes the batting allrounder was hilarious. I dont know how More kept a straight face when he said it. But hey he takes 5 wickets and 159 runs…what do ya say !(I am kidding…as I mentioned before these kind of performances dont count for much)

    Now as to the road rage factor, that kinda cuts both ways. It is expected that as a representative of a national body, Chappell shows some decorum and some sense of self-control (after all then Inzi did nothing wrong for chasing a spectator with a bat because he was making snide remarks about his weight—and tell you what those remarks hurt !). As an individual, he is well within his rights to flip the bird but as the coach…well…

    @Sachin: People dont like us because we vote communists to power? Aw come on. Now I personally detest CPM but this reason is quite out of left field. To be honest, I find it tough to understand how level-headed, rational Tamil people can vote for such an extravagant, vengeful, obviously-corrupt lady like Jayalalitha or Marathis can support a terrorist like Bal Thackeray. I may wonder that but surely that does not provide me any justification to harbour anti-Tamil/anti-Marathi sentiments.

    @Rani: Excellent comment. This comment is a very concise expression of the whole issue and you should put this comment up on your blog as a post. It deserves that.

  36. arnab,

    1. i think it’s “quo vadis.” (you did mean latin for “whither are you going?”, didn’t you? maybe it is time to re-read your asterix comics again 🙂 if not, please ignore my comment and enlighten.)

    2. i don’t mean to offend, but your post sounds rather extreme. i am afraid every single thing that’s written against ganguly joining the team cannot be part of a country-wide conspiracy to demean bengalis.

    as for calcuttans, i wonder why they behaved the way did at eden gardens. i don’t think spectators in any other city (in india) would have behaved the same way. what do you think?

    you say – “Yes Rahul you do. This is because Calcuttans love for Sourav and their love for you are not in conflict—we love both of you.”

    this hardly sounds like the case, given the eden gardens crowd behaviour. i would put it slightly differently: “as long as ganguly is in the indian team, we love you. if not, well, boo!”


  37. @Tanuj: My second mistake. Thank you for pointing it out.

    I never said “every single thing” thats written against Ganguly smacks of conspiracy. I have myself mentioned that there are several good cricketing reasons for Ganguly’s exclusion—however the thrust of the press coverage has been on amorphous qualities like “attitude”….a charge that was unsubstantiated.

    Again you suffer from the convenience of generalization—which is why I brought up the issue of a section of Muslims. Now will you say “All Muslims support Pakistan”? I think you wont.

    However you do not afford us the same privilege.

    As to spectators in any other city, I will reserve my comment here thank you. I just dont want to go there.

  38. Greatbong,

    🙂 yes, but atleast the Tamils and Marathis throw them out sometimes

  39. Bong or No-Bong, I think Sourav has contributed good enough to Indian Cricket. At the same time, he has played enough as well. There would be no improvement in his technique. That’s not good for team, and he must take honoury exit, if so allowed.

    Green pitch at Eden was in bad taste, as it was in Nagpur. Sourav was ridiculed for opting out of that test, not for complaining.

    No more explainations.

  40. Dada did a great service to Indian cricket by rescuing it from the clutches of match fixers like Azhar/Jadeja/Mongia. For that reason alone, he no doubt deserves at least an honourable exit from the game.

    Perhaps he should have seen the writing on the wall (I don’t mean Dravid hehe) and come to some sort of deal a la Steve Waugh walking away gloriously into the sunset. Instead of going to the press and it all resulting in this ugly hullabaloo.

    And O Great Bong, please convince fellow Bongs to vote commies out of power just once. You can’t expect to elect them for 30+ years without a break and expect to be considered normal by the rest of the nation 🙂

  41. now what do all thos parochial bongs have to say about Indian team, especially those who were very happy to see it defeated on the hostile turf of eden. I just loved the way dravid acknowledged the crowd support after winning. that is what a great captain does and that is what great and cultured spectators deserve.

    again my two fingers

    I request greatbong to delete this post.

  42. final nail in Ganguly’c coffin… Pawar wins BCCI election…

    all bongs must be eating crow:))

  43. another indian@
    Buddy we seem to be losing sense of proportion!
    If you are following this blog/thread you might have noticed that GreatBong deleted my first post with comments and my next post was shunted out without any explanation.

    What fun did GreatBong derive by shunting out a fellow Bong?

    Fine, I did touch a tender spot and he showed me the door.

    So your comment “all Bongs” eating crow because Sharad Pawar won BCCI election is bewildering.

    For a moment if I grant that you are saying the truth, then we’ll face an illogical situation.

    Because I trace back your logic, your statement makes sense only if “all Bongs” are Cricket Fans+Sourav Fans.

    Furthermore, does it requires extraordinary intelligence to understand that many Bongs are born and brought up outside WB? And they do not share likes and dislikes of Calcuttans? In fact the two groups have completely different worldview of most issues.

    If you are criticising the Cricket fans of Calcutta, its fine.

    But the moment you address a large denomination you are stepping out of the realms of sports.

    Treading on a different sphere has rather curious ramification.

    Expressing your disgust at an imbecile mob is okay.

  44. hi jester

    I agree with you and rephrase…

    all parochial bongs must be eating crow:))

  45. Of course it is your blog and you will write about whatever you want. But I think that your Ganguly posts are among the worst. Why waste time on doing what every other person can do and are doing? There is nothing in this post that is new. Even I can write a post like this. I would request you to write instead smart posts like those about MithunDa or Deshibaba. Very few people can write so nicely.

    In my experience, anti-Bengali feeling is very strong abroad. But in it is not so strong in India. And why do you seek recognition from non-Bengalis in India, who cares? Be the best in what are you doing and make it obvious to the world that you are the best. How does it matter if a stupid Tamil or Marathi writes something abusing about Bengalis, just ignore. And please, don’t spend one more word on Ganguly; we have enough already.

  46. Here’s someone calling it as it is:
    From Hindustan Times

    Finger on the pulse
    Seema Goswami

    November 29, 2005

    Frankly, I am a little disappointed in Greg Chappell. No, not because the Indian coach gave the
    finger to a group of emotionally-deranged, slogan-shouting Sourav fans — but because he now
    says he didn’t (apparently, he was attending to an injured finger).

    Surely, if anyone deserved a rude gesture, it was that abusive mob of fans which seems to think
    that the sun shines out of Sourav’s posterior even if the runs haven’t exactly been flowing off his
    bat (and, I’m sorry, centuries in tame domestic matches and against the mighty Zimbabwe team
    don’t quite cut it), and that it is fine to hold the Indian team, and cricket itself, hostage if they so

    These kind of emotional extremes is something that Calcutta is famous for. I should know, I
    grew up there. And even those who haven’t sampled the delights of Victoria Memorial need
    take only one look at Mamata Banerjee’s foaming-at-the-mouth speeches (both in Parliament
    and outside) to realise that a stiff upper lip is not exactly the Bengali style. But while all that
    high-octane oratory touched with a hint of tears can be endearing at some level — after all, how
    can you knock a people who worship Rabindranath Tagore and still believe that Netaji Subhas
    Chandra Bose is a wandering mendicant out there somewhere — that innocent charm of
    Bengali sentimentality is beginning to wear a bit thin.

    And for me, at least, the turning point was the moment when emotional incontinence turned into
    emotional blackmail, with various Calcutta celebrities (I use the term in its loosest sense, of
    course) backed up by hordes of slogan-shouting ‘fans’ baying for Chappell’s blood and
    threatening that they would not allow the one-day match to be played at Eden Gardens if
    Sourav was not part of the team. So now regional pride decides where matches should be
    played and who should play in them. Cricketing considerations can just go take a jump. If it’s
    Calcutta, it has to be Sourav, take it or leave it.

    We should have left it. As even the most cursory follower of cricket knows, Eden Gardens
    hasn’t exactly covered itself with glory the last few times it has hosted high-profile matches. I
    have lost count of the times players have been heckled and abused, water bottles thrown at the
    fielders of opposing teams and the one memorable occasion when a match had to be completed
    after clearing out the stadium because the public had turned so rowdy.

    Given its track record, I don’t see why Eden Gardens deserves to host another important
    match. And let’s not even go into all that nonsense about great atmosphere. There’s nothing
    great about booing India’s captain Rahul Dravid when he goes in to bat and then cheering
    delightedly when he gets out.

    As for the cricket bosses in charge at the Eden — words fail me when it comes to describing a
    bunch who produce a green-top pitch just so that the South Africans can humiliate our team on
    home ground. All this to create the illusion that the team can’t do without Sourav (the fact that
    he wouldn’t have lasted an over on that beauty of wicket is neither here nor there). How does
    one describe such shenanigans? ‘Shameful’ is as far as I will go, given that this is a family
    newspaper, but honestly, a middle finger could come in quite handy here — even if it isn’t Greg

    As for Sourav himself, well, what can anyone say but, ‘For God’s sake, go!’ You may have
    been picked for the Test team as an all-rounder (another of life’s enduring mysteries) because
    of your various benefactors in the cricketing establishment but you know in your heart that you
    don’t deserve a place in this team. And even if you did squeeze into the final XI, the bad blood
    that you have created will only destroy Indian cricket. So, for once, put India above yourself
    and make an honourable exit. Your real fans will love you for it — and you may even gain some
    new admirers in the process.

    As for Calcutta? Well, at the rate things are going, it wouldn’t surprise me if Bengal seceded
    from India even before Kashmir, only on this contentious issue. Except that it would then turn
    into Bangladesh, and we all know how well that team does in Test cricket. But at least, there
    could be no doubt that Sourav would be captain of that particular team.

  47. Was Seema Goswami worried likewise when Shashank Manohar handed a green top to the Aussies at Nagpur? Or when a Bangalore crowd booed Saurav Ganguly as he went out to bat and celebrated his dismissal afterwards? I am happy that the Kolkata crowd did what they did, because the next time some local satrap thinks of creating a green top to settle internal disputes within BCCI he would alwsys stop and think of the Kolkata experience.
    We didn’t light the fire, buddy. We are just fighting it with another one 🙂

  48. Sourav Chandidas Ganguly played his last test match in Karachi, Pakistan and batted like the tiger against Shaoib and Asif when other Indian batsmen including Dravid were EXPOSED. The memory of those two little gem of innings by the best Indian left hand batsman ever will forever remain etched in my memory. Class cannot be replaced by Averages.
    Sourav Chandidas Ganguly led his country to a one-day Series win versus West Indies in West Indies in 2002 (the only time an Indian team did so).Class cannot be replaced by Averages.

    Dear Sourav. You sacrificed 5 years of your prime career by concentrating on captaincy and burdening yourself in looking after, supporting and improving other not-too-good players (like strokeless Dravid in one-dayers by giving him back stoppers role as a keeper)while taking India to glory in 2003 World Cup. You never thought certain Indian fans will kill you. So kill your sentiments for the country – migrate to Bangladesh – play the world cup 2007 PLEASE as an opener to show the world and resurrect your status as an ALL TIME GREAT. One silken innings against India will do. PLEASE DO NOT CAPTAIN BANGLADESH AS I DO NOT WANT INDIA TO LOSE THOUGH (quite likely, as Lara showed to us what a novice the present Indian Captain is).

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