| Sourav at the airport. (Gautam Bose)
Calcutta, Nov. 22: Rahul Dravid was preparing to head for the masseur’s table at the Chepauk, in Chennai this afternoon, when the national selectors anointed him the Test captain as well.
Hundreds of miles away, in Pune, Sourav Ganguly was readying to leave for nets with the Bengal squad when he learnt of his ouster.
Apparently, from the TV.
Quite remarkably, the contrast reflected exactly where they stand: Dravid can relax just a wee bit; Sourav needs to work harder than ever before.
That Dravid would get the Test captaincy (for the series versus Sri Lanka), too, became more or less clear last month itself when the selectors placed him at the helm for back-to-back ODI engagements against Lanka and the ongoing series versus South Africa.
That break with tradition was a signal and it coincided with Jagmohan Dalmiya being under choking pressure in intra-Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) politics.
The selectors wouldn’t have given Sourav the hot-potato treatment had Dalmiya still been on a strong wicket.
According to The Telegraph’s sources, the Test captaincy was put to vote and East’s Pranab Roy found himself isolated as the other selectors 'chairman Kiran More, Yashpal Sharma, Gopal Sharma and V.B.Chandrasekhar ' supported Dravid.
The meeting at the Taj Coromandal “didn’t take much longer” than half-an-hour.
Those opposed to Sourav gave no weightage to his being India’s most successful Test captain. Absolutely no weightage was also given to the series win in Zimbabwe ' Sourav’s last assignment.
“If you don’t win against teams like Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, then you shouldn’t be playing,” is what More told the media.
He added: “We’re not happy with Sourav’s performance over the past couple of years. Rahul, on the other hand, has been performing consistently.”
Dravid’s consistency is definitely worthy of envy, yet in the past couple of years Sourav has only had one poor Test series --- versus Pakistan, at the end of last season.
More, obviously, didn’t do his homework.
He did emphasise that Sourav’s spat with Greg Chappell didn’t have a bearing, but the coach is bound to have conveyed his thoughts to him.
Thanks to an e-mail which got leaked, it’s no secret that Chappell has strong reservations about Sourav’s presence in the dressing room.
Chappell and More have reached a perfect understanding.
Actually, the Sourav-Chappell truce --- brokered by the BCCI on September 27 --- isn’t going to be put to test as one is now sans authority.
As of late tonight, Sourav will figure in the squad for the first Test against Lanka (to be picked tomorrow), but being an ordinary player isn’t the same as being the captain.
Sourav declined to comment on his removal --- “Right now, I’m just looking forward to the Ranji match versus Maharashtra” --- and Dravid didn’t say much either.
Chased by the media after the third ODI got abandoned without a ball being bowled, he merely said (at the team hotel and not the Chepauk): “I’m happy' Excited' Honoured'”
Sourav indicated he would either call Dravid or congratulate him via an SMS.
He has already gone on record saying talk of his possibly having misgivings about playing under Dravid was without basis.
Dravid has handled the Harbhajan Singhs superbly. However, a bigger man management role awaits him.