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Board, not ban, stops Sourav

Calcutta, April 14: Sourav Ganguly has, to put it bluntly, been ditched by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Actually, the BCCI let the regular captain down on Tuesday itself when it didn't ask him to stay on with Team India for the last two ODIs against Pakistan.

Sourav could have remained with a proviso he wouldn't stay if he didn't appeal the six-match ban by match referee Chris Broad or the International Cricket Council (ICC) didn't immediately put his ban 'on appeal'.

Well, Sourav appealed late last night and, within hours, the ICC announced he was eligible for all matches 'pending the resolution' of his appeal. This was followed last November too.

The BCCI, though, hasn't disturbed the XV selected for Kanpur. The same players, by the way, have been picked for the New Delhi ODI as well.

Specifically, a media release from BCCI secretary S.K. Nair this afternoon said: 'Since less than 24 hours remain for the start of the Kanpur match, the board felt it is extremely important for the players to concentrate and focus on the match, so that they could bring out the best performance.

'In view of this, the board has decided to continue with the selected team for the Kanpur match. This position was duly explained to the Indian captain, Sourav Ganguly, and he has appreciated the board's decision.'

Intriguingly, the BCCI is silent about Sunday's ODI in New Delhi. This can only add to the pressure on Sourav who, admittedly, is going through a horrendous phase.

Surely, the BCCI would have been speaking differently had he been among the runs.

Now, if India beats Pakistan tomorrow, it's more than likely Sourav won't be asked to head for New Delhi and again wear the captain's hat. The script could be different if Pakistan take a 3-2 lead.

Significantly, the BCCI has admitted it didn't seek Sourav's views on whether he would appeal.

The media release, after all, included: ' it was not known when the formal communication from the (match) referee would be received or whether Ganguly would prefer an appeal' it was decided to go ahead with the selection'.'

This shows the BCCI in poor light. Even if the squad had to be picked that evening, the least it should have done was to know Sourav's mind.

Moreover, in a crisis ' brought about collectively, mind you ' the BCCI has to stand behind all players, especially the captain.

Tuesday's selection meeting after the Motera ODI, one learns, began with Sourav being present. However, when word about his ban got around, he left the room and vice-captain Rahul Dravid was called in.

'We went by what was communicated by the BCCI,' is how one of the five selectors reacted, very defensively, when contacted this evening.

The selectors kept the all-important availability factor in mind, but BCCI president Ranbir Singh Mahendra ought to have suggested Sourav be retained provisionally.

It's mandatory for the BCCI president to approve every selection.

Today, of course, Sourav has no choice but to follow any BCCI advisory.

While declining to comment on the media release, he told The Telegraph: 'I'm not mentally shattered' If asked to, I'll head to New Delhi by the first flight' I've been in poor form, yes, but I'm good enough to again be counted among the best.'

India's most successful Test captain is cornered, but isn't prepared to be counted out.

Footnote: Stand-in captain Dravid has acknowledged that responsibility for a slow over rate rests with the team. 'It's a collective responsibility' It's an area we need to get better at,' he observed in Kanpur.

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