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Since 1st March, 1999
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He can really add value in more than one area, says Wadekar
- If fit and in form, Sourav must be there for the World Cup, feels former captain and coach
Ajit Wadekar

Mumbai: If Sourav Ganguly builds on his handsome century against North Zone in a recent Duleep Trophy face-off then, in the respected Ajit Wadekar’s opinion, the selectors must recall him for the World Cup next March-April.

“If I had a say, I would do that,” remarked the former India captain, coach and selection committee chairman. Sourav, 34, has been off the ODI scene for over 14 months.

While the actual selection for cricket’s No.1 spectacle is still some way off, the 30 probables have to be named by January 11/12.

Speaking to The Telegraph on Friday afternoon, Wadekar added: “You’ve got to have a blend of experience and youth, particularly in a tournament such as the World Cup. If Sourav is consistently among the runs in domestic cricket, then he should be there.

“In fact, I would select him to partner Sachin Tendulkar at the very top of the order... Theirs was a hugely successful opening partnership and it’s not on sentimental grounds alone that I’m saying whatever I have... It has been driven by cricket sense.”

Reacting to something being talked about, specifically that Sourav’s comeback may make Rahul Dravid ‘insecure’, Wadekar commented: “I don’t think so... Surely, Sourav knows he can’t get back the captaincy... He wants to return as a player only... If he’s back, Dravid can even draw on his experience (as captain) to tackle difficult situations.

“Let’s not forget that Sourav has been our greatest captain... Till he took charge (March 2000), we weren’t aggressive enough... Moreover, his record speaks for itself... Dravid, therefore, may gain if Sourav is around...”

Sourav Ganguly

Going back to the time he replaced Mansur Ali Khan ‘Tiger’ Pataudi, in 1970-71, Wadekar said: “Tiger played under me in 1972-73 and there were no bad vibes in the dressing room... Rather, there were occasions when I picked his brain, took suggestions... I didn’t find Tiger scheming to get back the captaincy. He did eventually, but after I retired.”

Wadekar, though, reminded that the game is “bigger” than any individual and the team’s interest alone must determine the choice of players. “The selectors should ask themselves one question: What’s best for the country' That’s it...”

It’s, of course, debatable whether that has always been done.

“Provided Sourav is in form and has kept himself fit, he can really add value in more than one area... I’m not going to write him off... He’s focused on a comeback and, if he continues the good work, I don’t see why he can’t make the World Cup squad,” Wadekar signed off.

With East failing to make the Duleep final, Sourav lost out on a big chance. His ne xt opportunity will be in Mohali (from November 23), during Bengal’s first Ranji Trophy match of the 2006-07 season.

Generally, wickets there aren’t batsman-friendly, so an effort high on character is going to count for much. Clearly, Sourav’s future is in his own hands.

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