An open letter to the Little Master

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May 22nd, 2012 Joydeep Ghosh

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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9 Responses to “An open letter to the Little Master”

  1. Pavani Says:

    Dhoni will strike 7 sixes an over today. How? Bangladesh will prdouce a no ball which will be dispatched over the rope again. Then the panelists were laughing at Bangladesh being a minnow and Srikkanth’s view seemed like they deserved the 7 sixes an over. Srikkanth dismissed any chance of Bangladesh causing an upset against this Bangladesh. Another panelist Anjum mentioned Bangladesh had beaten New Zealand in an warm up match. Srikkanth remarked all these are rubbish. There is a vast difference between India and Bangladesh so Bangladesh cannot win. India has come to win the world cup. If they loose today they should take the next flight home. Everybody was laughing. Chetan Sharma commented India should not take Bangladesh seriously. If India should respect Bangladesh then they should not have come to this World Cup. During the match break Srikkanth was upset with India’s paltry total of 191. After some discussions he commented that it was the Indian batsmen who gifted their wicket , the Bangladeshi bowlers had really did nothing special. Chetan Sharma thought that Bangladesh batting is not that strong. Srikkanth still thought that India should take the next flight home if they loose. After the end of the game as India lost to Bangladesh Chetan and Srikkanth were not there to comment. People were wondering whether they went to the travel agent to confirm the Indian team’s return ticket. Anjum, the another presenter thought that Bangladesh may cause another upset to beat Sri Lanka to provide a chance for India in the World Cup. Wow! what a complete turn around of assessment about Bangladesh. 3) Bangladesh has toured every Test cricket nation except India. Because cricket is a business to them and having Bangladesh is commercially unprofitable. A tour with a said minnow is commercially unattractive for the media and advertisers. India last toured Bangladesh in 2004 December. Bangladesh has beaten India for the first time then. After that India cancelled their next scheduled tour to Bangladesh twice and did not play them in last couple of years. The reasons suspected was again commerce. So India chose to deffer it till May 2007. I am not sure whether they will come to Bangladesh or invite back Bangladesh as there will always be excuses available. So what can you say about the above instances? Simple arrogance and looking down on others has caused India this disgrace. As a saying goes none are more unjust in their judgments of others than those who have a high opinion of themselves . India has took their eyes off Bangladesh who progressed a lot in 2006. Their techniques got better and they are getting used to winning albeit most of the opponents were not from the super eight of Cricket. This simple arrogance also sieged the Indian cricket team who came to the field without in form Sreesanth and Kumble and decided to bat first probably with a score like 350 in mind. And the pressure on the players were immense as they found Bangladesh bowlers using the conditions and maintaining line and length. When Bangladesh was batting they just had no clue why these eighteen year olds were not respecting the paper tiger bowlers. While Bangladesh had a game plan they just had no plan B to tackle the surprise. Anand Vasu says in Cricinfo that: Bangladesh have slowly, steadily, doggedly worked at their cricket to the best of their ability for years now, and the fruit of that is this win. The point is that they have been around for a while now, it’s just that not too many have taken note. The Bangladeshi Newspaper Prothom Alo said this win is a reply to the Indian’s disrespect about Bangladesh. Bangladesh proved India that what is commerce to them is merely a game for them. The article concludes with the hope that India is put down on their feet with this shock. If they still cannot revise their opinion about Bangladesh they will be reminded in the coming tour. Now India will go nowhere with blaming players and the coach for this loss. Cricket is religion, passion and everything to Indians. Actually millions of Indian cricket fans deserves better from the Indian team. And this will happen when all the extra pressure of high expectations and influence of commerce in cricket are reduced. Let the Indian team play for themselves, not for the cup, but for the sheer pleasure of the game. India has enough good players to become a champion but now it may be too late for this World Cup.

  2. Reminder Man Says:

    I wish you would have included Gavaskar’s son’s entry in to Indian cricket and his performance to further nail it.

    I liked your sound argument here.

  3. Aniruddha Sengupta Says:

    Joydeep, we know it too well that most people are far from objective when they rate others - either praising them to the high heavens or dragging them to the sewers. Kapil, I dare say, is any day more loved than a certain Little Master, across India, what, in spite of the tear-jerker BBC interview in the wake of the match-fixing scam in the 90s. Ordinary people love characters who wear their hearts on their sleeve and play for pride and glory for a nation, rather than only money through endorsements or tax waivers. And, may I add, in this regard, the Little Master sobriquet will bear the curse for as long as it is used in the context of these Mumbai ‘icons’. They are more successful by miles but are definitely far from being adored without mixed feelings.

  4. Akhilesh Says:

    Who else other than a Bengali can write this? I’m a Hyderabadi, and a die hard fan of Sourav Ganguly. Bring one more name in past, present/contemporary cricket who has inspired not only the team, but the nation as a whole? On the off-side, he’s unparalleled. As a Captain, he’s revolutionary. As a player, he’s what he’s called, a tiger, a fighter, and a Warrior. People spew all kinds of bs, yet still watch him. Pathetic bunch of sorrow goons.

  5. Srinivas Says:

    Good one:)

  6. Sudipto Says:

    This is a good letter to Gavaskar the oldie who was known for politics in Indian cricket, who chose not to run and play for the victory of the country and waste the balls deliberately holding his wicket because he wanted captaincy of team India and did not like venkataraghvan the prolific spinner.

    This same politician created so much of nonsence trying hard to oust Kapil dev in his Prime. This oldie will never succeed. just check he might have made some investments in KKR team where his financial lossed may be goading him to spew venom on Saurav.

    Sourav will always remain adoreable in success or in failure in bad days and good, in pursuit of hapiness or trying hard to give in his best, Remember gavaskar I have thrown out my Nokia phones because they advertised on the KKR shirt.

  7. RM Says:

    I agree that Sourav brings the worst out of many people. Well, I guess that is not going to change.

    On Sachin, you forget that he was the top scorer in the 2010 IPL edition. He took Mumbai to the finals, before he lost the plot in the finals. It took all of Gayle’s might to go past his tally this year. The other greats (Dravid, Ponting) have not succeeded in this format as much as Sachin has, so he deserves some space. And don’t forget, Mumbai are the reigning champions of the Champions League, which is a bigger prize than the IPL crown. Maybe, you can argue that Mumbai won only because Sachin didn’t play.

  8. Reetesh Says:

    Who other than a Bengali can write this! Accept that he is/was (take your pick) a bad runner and a awful runner. But he was good at playing mind games.

    I also believe that you too share same quality and I could say this because you have clubbed Rahul with Dada.

    Rahul is a simple man and a very bad politician, please spare him.

  9. Sanjay Says:

    hi mate… you still in BS. hope this lovely article is not typed from that old lenova laptop. anywayz your article was a nice refreshment.

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