Calcutta: The freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed (with reasonable restrictions) by our Constitution, but any teammate who speaks up for Sourav Ganguly is either reprimanded or cautioned by the Board.
Obviously, it’s too much for the Establishment.
Harbhajan Singh received a rap on his knuckles ' both from the Board and his home association, Punjab ' when he sided with the former Team India captain in his row with coach Greg Chappell. That was in end-September.
On Wednesday, Yuvraj Singh (Man-of-the-Series in the just-ended ODIs against Pakistan) was “cautioned” for telling a TV channel that Sourav “deserved” to be in the (Test) team in his own right and not merely as his replacement.
That interview was aired on Tuesday, the day it got confirmed Yuvraj would miss the first Test versus England owing to a hamstring injury, and two days before Kiran More and his colleagues picked the 14/15 for the face-off in Nagpur (from March 1).
“I read about the interview in the newspapers and felt Yuvraj’s comments were unwarranted' If players start talking on matters of selection, then what remains for the selectors to do'” Board secretary Niranjan Shah asked.
Speaking to The Telegraphfrom his cellphone, he added: “I’ve formally cautioned Yuvraj' A letter has gone and he has been told not to talk about selection'”
Shah confirmed that selection committee chairman More had “complained” about Yuvraj: “Not only More, nobody liked what he said'”
He didn’t elaborate on exactly who comprised the “nobody.”
The caution to Yuvraj, therefore, forms the backdrop to Thursday’s selection meeting in Vadodara.
In Pakistan, Sourav just got to bat in the Karachi Test and while he didn’t score big (only Yuvraj did), he was comfortable against the intimidating pace of Shoaib Akhtar and the lethal swing of Mohammed Asif.
A majority of the selectors, it seems, are convinced Sourav should get another chance. So, be it 14 or 15, he’s set to head for Nagpur at the weekend.
Of course, it’s to be seen whether Gautam Gambhir will get one more chance. He managed a best of 30 in his last Test series (versus Sri Lanka) and was unprofessional in the last two ODIs in Pakistan.
In fact, Sunil Gavaskar has already questioned his temperament.
With Virender Sehwag fit, Gambhir could well get the boot, allowing Wasim Jaffer to make a comeback.
[Speaking to the Media in Vadodara, More announced that specialists are going to open. Captain Rahul Dravid will be back in the middle-order.]
Actually, Gambhir may be replaced by a middle-order bat, ‘rookie’ Suresh Raina, whose appearances have been limited to ODIs. Mohammed Kaif isn’t in the frame as he flopped in the recent ODIs.
Another ODI specialist in contention is quick Sreesanth. It won’t surprise if he ousts Zaheer Khan, who was anything but impressive (except for one spell in Faisalabad) on the tour of Pakistan.
Incidentally, there’s talk that young leggie Piyush Chawla, who had an excellent U-19 World Cup, is going to get a call-up under the ‘looking-to-the-future’ scheme.
(As of Wednesday night)
Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, V.V.S.Laxman, Wasim Jaffer, Suresh Raina; Mahendra Singh Dhoni; Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh; Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan, Rudra Pratap Singh, Sreesanth.
Note: Piyush Chawla could be the 15th player. According to the Board secretary, the 14/15 bit hasn’t been decided.
Dark horse: Vikram Rajvir Singh.