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.