It is easy to forget now; but before Dhoni, there was Ganguly. One of the most gifted and fearless batsman of the world in the late 90s, he was also a shrewd and aggressive skipper. His loyalty to the players he backed is legendary, while his refusal to be politically correct at press conferences or coin tosses, earned him as many fans as it did detractors. For a generation of Indian fans, who started following the game during his reign as captain, he was their perfect representative; Brash, arrogant and unapologetic. It is no secret that the present Indian team owes a lot of its success and change in attitude to Dada’s legacy.
That is why it was not surprising to read about his latest comments in the papers. This time though, it only makes him out to look like an embittered former player, taking digs at favorite targets (Chappell) and dragging in new ones (Dravid). The whole Chappell saga has been much talked and written about; many players agree that he was a negative influence and inadvertently planted the seeds of doubt, while destroying the confidence and trust of the team. What has been left unsaid is the influence he had on players like MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina (who remains to date as the only Indian player who acknowledges Chappell’s inputs to his game). Greg Chappell was not exactly the best thing that happened to Indian cricket, but to write him off completely is stupid. As one of the leading batsmen of his times, he has lots of technical input to offer, and lest Ganguly forgets, he was partially responsible for motivating the former Indian skipper to score a brilliant century at the Gabba in 2003. (I would also love to know, what exactly is this personal vendetta, Chappell is supposed to have had?) While how much of a difference he can actually make when it comes to ‘de-mystifying’ the Indian batsmen is in question, there should not be any doubt that, for what he lacks in man management skills, he can compensate with critical analysis of the opposition, whom he once used to coach.
As for his statement about Dravid, it looks like a cheap shot at first; but then again, there is some element of truth to it. Perhaps, he could have phrased the sentence better. Dravid didn’t go the Pietersen way and try to oust Chappell, not because he didn’t have the guts; but because he subscribed to most of what the coach was trying to implement. It was just that Chappell’s way was never going to work in India, and they found that out the hard way.
Either way, it is sad to see Ganguly transforming into the kind of person he used to loathe in his playing days – a former player with a taste for controversial outbursts.
”Dinda is India’s best pace bowler right now and should have been on that plane to Australia in the first place with rest of the squad,” Ganguly said.