| Sourav Ganguly at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Saturday. (PTI)
Calcutta: Thanks chiefly to Greg Chappell and Kiran More, Sourav Ganguly hardly wore the Team India colours in 2005-06.
That, however, didn’t stop the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president, Sharad Pawar, from insisting that he be retained as a grade A player in the contracts’ list for the 2006-07 season.
The fresh gradations, actually effective from October 1, 2006, were announced on Saturday.
On the face of it, it may not mean much as the contracts will be negotiated afresh within a few months, but the gradations committee (Pawar, secretary Niranjan Shah and chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar) has given Sourav the respect he deserves.
It won’t go unnoticed.
“When the statistics were placed before Mr Pawar, he felt there was no reason to downgrade Sourav… He went to the extent of wondering whether he had to be penalised for not being picked… Mr Pawar also spoke about Sourav’s seniority,” a top BCCI source told The Telegraph late at night.
In power from end-2005, Pawar has mostly been taking a pro-Sourav line.
For the record, India’s most successful Test captain only played four Tests (average of 31.00) between October 1, 2005 and September 30, 2006. As for ODIs, he wasn’t selected for even one!
Since then, of course, Sourav has been phenomenal: An average of 63.63 in ODIs and 42.75 in Tests.
Vengsarkar, though, didn’t go into details of the intra-committee discussions.
“There’s a criteria in place… Grading players isn’t about personal likes or dislikes… Both seniority and performance count,” he said.
While Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni have been promoted to grade A, four — V.V.S.Laxman, Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag and Irfan Pathan — have been demoted to B.
Out totally are Mohammed Kaif (grade B) and Murali Kartik (grade C).
The last list, for 2005-06, had been announced in December 2005.
Given the sorry state they find themselves in, more bad news probably awaits Harbhajan, Sehwag and Pathan.
It’s possible that the contracts will continue to be graded. In that case, Pathan is unlikely to figure anywhere. As for Harbhajan and Sehwag, both could drop to grade C.
Also in trouble is Chappell’s blue-eyed boy, Suresh Raina, who is recovering from surgery. Even the injury-prone Munaf Patel.
Assuming the existing structure stays, good news should come the way of Zaheer Khan and Dinesh Karthik.
Grade A (Rs 50 lakh retainership): Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Anil Kumble.
Grade B (Rs 35 lakh retainership): V.V.S. Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan.
Grade C (Rs 20 lakh retainership): Wasim Jaffer, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Zaheer Khan, Sreesanth, Munaf Patel.