An open letter to the Little Master

May 22nd, 2012

Dear Mr Gavaskar,

Trust a Bengali to respond to you. But it’s almost funny that almost every cricket and news commentator, most less more qualified than you, lectures Saurav Ganguly. Some even pass snide remarks when he is on the field. ‘Oh, they are taking a second run because the ball has gone to him’ and so on.

Here is a counterpoint. Why are we watching PWI play a match at all or, for that matter, Rajasthan Royals? I have not seen anyone, and I mean real people not statisticians or commentators, who are gung-ho about a Punjab (and they are doing quite well in recent times) or Deccan. Simply, because there is no Dravid or Saurav leading those teams.

While Sachin, Viru, Dhoni and Gambhir automatically qualify for fame and support, I wonder how others teams will get the eyeballs if they don’t have talisman captains or players who attract people, even in their failures.

I would expect someone of your experience and expertise to realise that his presence for PWI is important for not just cricketing reasons (IPL is exactly not quality cricket).

But the argument cannot be that since Ganguly does not need to prove himself and he is doing badly, he should retire. Is there really a problem if he wants to prove himself? In the past, he has done so in adverse circumstances so maybe, he feels he has it in him still. And, that is why he is being watched.

I really wonder how many of his teams members have outperformed (him) in this season PWI or other seasons in KKR (would be interesting to compare Saurav’s numbers in Eden with Gautam’s. Is Gauti doing better?).

Unless he is being blamed him for match-fixing, I am sure others did not underperform because of him.

Why are we so charitable towards Sachin and in this season Dhoni, not Saurav or Dravid? Dravid quit after one bad series, will Sachin ever do that?

At the end of the day, we are what the Australians blame us for, record seekers. Age, fitness and form are important, which is why a Dravid (he is still the best number 3 for India even considering those parameters), Ganguly and Laxman, may not make it to the current Indian team.

But in IPL, you need someone who will make sure teams catch eyeballs. And sadly, even Michel Clarke or Ricky Ponting or Steve Smith will not get Pune Warriors that.

To put the wayward criticism in perspective, here is a headline of a leading paper. “ Pune Warriors is the first team to bow out from IPL” with a Ganguly’s picture on the front page panel (your column appeared in the same paper).

Here are the numbers on that day. PWI – 13 Matches, 8 points. Deccan Chargers – 12 Matches, 5 points. If both Deccan and PWI had won all their matches, it was not possible for Deccan to have gone ahead of Pune.

Two points: One, we have got into the habit of blaming Ganguly for everything. There is almost a sense of glee when he fails. By the same yardstick, Sachin’s star-studded Mumbai Indians (any of the teams Ganguly or even Dhoni has led does not boast of those names) have never won an IPL but we seldom lift a finger against him. And I am still to see if Gambhir can take KKR there.

Two, even a leading newspaper did not care about the real numbers but just said something they felt like.
Fact: Few would even watch a Pune match without his presence (even if to just criticise him, his batting, fielding, tactics and so on).

Maybe, the owners should think about getting someone who can grab those headlines in the next season. Even bad publicity is good.

In my view, Ganguly should walk out of Pune Warriors after May 19. (As a captain, he has a better record than other Indian captains and experts who are commenting about him. As a player, I wonder how many have been better than him in the one-day format. His test record or IPL records aren’t exactly condemnable.)

But then, he might just come back for more pain and bad press… who cares… people will still watch him… is it so bad?

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