The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Only a miracle may see Sourav in tri-series

Calcutta: Seven years ago, almost to the day, a Jawagal Srinath hit at nets put Sourav Ganguly out for four weeks. Specifically, that injury (on the eve of the Rajkot ODI against South Africa) made him miss three limited overs games and the Motera Test versus Hansie Cronje’s men.

Actually, the lay-off need not have been so long had the doctor who promptly ‘treated’ Sourav applied an ice pack on his left calf muscle and not, shockingly, given the steam treatment. More than Srinath’s hit, then, the immediate mistreatment made Sourav (now in his fourth year as Team India captain) fret and fume for weeks.

Seven years on, if Sourav remembers correctly — the past week, after all, has been pretty traumatic — the first doctor to treat him (for the problem-creating abscess) during the recent Motera Test was an ophthalmologist! Unbelievable, but we have to take the captain’s word.

Sourav, of course, doesn’t want a controversy — in fact, that’s not our idea either. Yet, questions must be asked as something went terribly wrong somewhere. Clearly, instead of lying in a Belle Vue suite, Sourav ought to have been leading his team at the Chepauk on Thursday.

Moreover, at the moment, perhaps only a miracle will see the captain fit for the later matches in the current tri-series. Officially, he is only out of the first two games. The tournament will end on November 18 and, within days, Team India will be off to Australia.

“Look, today, I’m interested in a quick recovery... I don’t want to make an issue of what has happened... The treatment during the first Test, that surgery in Mohali...” Sourav told The Telegraph during the day. He declined to elaborate, aware that anything he says could, among other things, become emotive.

Incidentally, while acknowledging that dressings under anaesthesia is a “serious matter,” Board president Jagmohan Dalmiya took the Sourav-line in not wanting a controversy. “Nobody else spoke to me about the ophthalmologist... So, I can’t comment... Every centre has doctors on call, but nobody is assigned unless asked for by the physio (Andrew Leipus)...” he maintained.

Dalmiya added that neither Sourav nor his father, Chandi, had “complained” when he met them for almost 45 minutes on Monday. That, though, shouldn’t stop the president from reviewing what exactly is in place at all venues which host Tests and ODIs. Underwriting Sourav’s expenses is not good enough.

To begin with, no player should be put under the scalpel unless a surgeon on the Board’s panel has given the green signal. As every centre is reasonably close to the metros and emerging metros, the rich-in-funds Board must shortlist around half-a-dozen surgeons.

Indeed, questions over the surgery in Mohali (at the Fortis Hospital) wouldn’t have been raised had Sourav first been referred to a surgeon from New Delhi. The captain, it may be recalled, went for a “check-up” but ended up in the operation theatre. That was on October 14.

A few days later, Sourav was operated upon again (in Calcutta) as the dead tissue (“slough”) had not been removed in Mohali. Since then, every dressing is being done under anaesthesia. The reason for that being simple: Sourav’s inability to tolerate pain.

There are lessons to learn from the “minor surgery” in Mohali and here.

Meanwhile, the Chennai-based Dr Ram Subramanium (an expert in tackling infectious diseases), who made a short visit at the Board’s initiative, expressed “satisfaction” at the manner in which Sourav is being treated at Belle Vue. However, he is understood to have recommended “modifications” in the antibiotics.

As for Sourav’s recovery, he said: “It could take time.” That wouldn’t have come as music to the captain’s ears. While Friday will see the wound being stitched (“secondary sutures”), the next day should provide a clue as to when he will be discharged.

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