No. 1 to 16 & no guarantees - Dravid gets independent charge, Sourav accepts 'wisdom'

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  • Published 18.07.05

Calcutta, July 18: For the first time, Rahul Dravid won’t be standing in for Sourav Ganguly ? rather, if it comes to that, India’s most successful Test captain will have to play the upcoming tri-series in Sri Lanka under his long-standing deputy.

Whether that’s actually going to happen depends on ICC arbiter Justice Albie Sachs’s award on Sourav’s six-ODI ban. He has provisionally been named the 16th member.

Looking ahead, the national selectors will be under pressure to retain Dravid in the hot seat for the Zimbabwe tour if Team India emerges best in the July 30-August 9/10 tournament.

Chief selector Kiran More is understood to have called Sourav on his cell, in Cardiff, and explained that Dravid’s appointment was “only” for the tri-series.

Yet, even he must be aware no guarantee can ever be given. In any case, intriguingly, public memory on Sourav’s achievements is short.

Indeed, he has been dumped even though ICC spokesman Jon Long clarified last Thursday itself that there was “nothing specific” in the rules to bar a player from representing his country while arbitration was on.

Sourav, for his part, reacted with no emotion when contacted by The Telegraph.

“I respect the wisdom of the selectors and I’m going to do as directed,” he said, while driving out of Cardiff, Glamorgan’s HQ.

Sourav’s commitments with the Welsh county end on July 24.

Till early this morning, the selectors were “confused” and awaited a directive from the BCCI.

The BCCI brass, on the other hand, didn’t want to put anything in black-and-white, but there was support for Sourav provisionally getting back the captaincy.

Dravid was at the helm in the last two engagements, versus Pakistan.

However, according to well-placed sources, a change occurred between 9.30 am and 12.30 pm after More’s interaction with BCCI president Ranbir Singh Mahendra and secretary S.K.Nair.

No directive was given, but it was agreed that the captain should be someone assured of leading in the entire tournament.

It had to be Dravid.

Apparently, there was the realisation that a below-par performance would lead to an outcry if either Sourav or Dravid was given the captaincy provisionally.

So, to avoid a no-win situation, the safer (Dravid) option was encouraged by the BCCI. The selectors quickly played ball.

Coach Greg Chappell, whose innings with Team India effectively begins with the tri-series, seems to have played a hand as well.

It couldn’t be confirmed, but he let it be known that being saddled with a provisional captain would affect “planning and strategy.”

One can’t argue there.

Late this evening, there were whispers about an intra-BCCI understanding on the captaincy --- in the build-up to another potentially explosive AGM --- but one needn’t give that much credence.

Perhaps, none at all.

For the record, Dravid has captained in 12 ODIs (five wins) and five Tests (two wins).