The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Display of poor timing

Calcutta, Dec. 14: Greg Chappell was a sweet timer as a batsman ' Rahul Dravid isn’t too bad either ' but their partnership may not have got the timing right.

Few will believe Sourav Ganguly was dropped by the selectors. True or not, everyone will see Kiran More, the chief selector, as merely the announcer of the decision taken by Chappell and Dravid.

It hasn’t proved to be a popular decision, though Chappell might argue he is not in a popularity contest.

The average cricket fan is looking at it as an unfair decision, if SMS polls conducted by TV channels are an indication. In a STAR News poll, with over 11,000 responses, 80 per cent felt it was a wrong decision.

In Bengal, effigies were burnt and there was a rail-track blockade for about 10 minutes.

More than that, respected former cricketers also see it as unjustified. Legendary off-spinner Erapalli Prasanna told a news agency: “Dropping him from the third Test defies logic.”

But he made another point that shows the cricket establishment in poor light. “I feel history has repeated itself. This is the manner in which we have been treating our heroes. And this is one more such case.”

Although Sourav is 33 and possibly has some years of cricket left in him, having been first dropped from the one-day team and now from the Test squad, it will be hard to make a comeback in the upcoming Pakistan series and the one later against England.

V.V.S. Laxman and Yuvraj Singh will have to play really badly for Kiran More to eat his words that “we have a strong middle order” and bring Sourav back. Both have been in and out of the team and could flop again, but by the time that happens, if at all, Sourav won’t be getting any younger, age being the biggest argument held out against him.

It’s hard to believe Chappell and Dravid, and the selectors, were not aware of the possibility that Sourav might not make it to the team again.

Assuming that they did, could they have conducted themselves differently'

Prasanna thought so. “They should have given him the opportunity to call it a day. This is the least he deserved.”

Returning to the question of bad timing, Chappell, Dravid and the selectors might have avoided the criticism by choosing a moment to drop him when he didn’t have runs on the board.

That leads to the question: were they in a hurry'

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