Dambulla, Aug. 1: Eight months ago, Sourav Ganguly was good enough to captain Asia in the tsunami fund-raiser at the MCG. Today, the selectors didn’t pick him even in the XV for the three ODIs against Africa.
The ‘independent’ panel 'comprising Majid Khan, Ravi Shastri, Graeme Labrooy and Shafiq-ul Haque ' met amidst drama in Dubai and gave the captaincy to Inzamam-ul Haq. Rahul Dravid is his deputy.
Shaun Pollock is Africa’s captain for the first two ODIs (August 17 and 20). Once free from the ban, Graeme Smith takes over for the final face-off (August 21).
Centurion and Durban are the staging venues, with the latter getting the last two ODIs.
Sourav hasn’t taken his omission too kindly. In fact, he exploded when The Telegraph spoke to him after this evening’s optional nets off the Rangiri International Stadium.
The crushing news reached the former India captain less than 48 hours before his post-ban comeback. One hopes he doesn’t get distracted at a critical time in his career.
“It’s a raw deal... I didn’t score in my four ODIs this year (all versus Pakistan), but does anybody’s selection anywhere depend on four matches' What about the nearly 10,000 ODI runs I’ve got' Don’t they have value' Am I always to be the whipping boy' I’m disgusted,” Sourav thundered.
Regaining composure somewhat, he added: “I’m happy Inzy has got the captaincy and I wouldn’t have had a problem playing under him. What I can't understand is why the chief selectors of the four Test-playing nations didn’t do the choosing and picking'”
The squad for the MCG fund-raiser, it may be recalled, was selected by them.
Actually, three months ago, even the International Cricket Council ignored Sourav for the forthcoming Super Series in Australia.
That didn’t surprise as one of the six selectors, Clive Lloyd, had lost face on the ban issue last November and definitely wouldn’t have advocated the cause of somebody who embarrassed him.
Then, Sourav has never been a favourite with the Establishment.
The Asian selectors’ decision, though, is shocking. Unbelievably, according to well-placed sources, none of them gave Sourav a place in their preliminary list of 20.
At that point, Asian Cricket Council chief executive Syed Ashraful Huq (who convened the meeting), gently reminded that (a) Sourav had been the Asia captain just months ago and (b) recently did well for Glamorgan.
The selectors responded by telling Huq they would leave if “pressure” was sought to be put. Upset, the convener himself walked out, saying he would return once their job was done.
Majid and Co. have clearly discriminated. After all, if performance in the last four matches is the criteria, Virender Sehwag (42 runs) shouldn’t have been picked.
Also, it’s inconceivable how Shoaib Akhtar has been selected when he hasn’t played international cricket for ages. And, his captain is bete-noire Inzamam!
Incidentally, Rumesh Ratnayeke is the Asia coach and Sultan Rana the manager.