Friday, November 14, 2008

Ganguly Series III: As a Captain

As a captain: His stint as a captain was more impressive. Something about his captaincy made things work. In the past things did not work for other people who may have had better ideas. The *thought* that the team can win under any sitation was more internalized under him. That looked impressive. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what made him click as a captain. I don't think anybody can. That is because nobody has the visibility into the kind of hard work he might've put into it. There are a million factors that go into creating a winning team. Some of it is planned and some of it is random. It is impossible to isolate a single reason and articulate it. Even if one can the public cannot consume that. Most people who try to explain his success are just lying, poking blindly (like the way I am going to do momentarily) or feeding what the public are capable of digetsing.

I thought his key move was to de-emphasize the 'Sachin' factor. He did not find team combinations that revolved around Sachin (which was common during Azhar's phase) and instead tried to build a team that had a solid foundation and good players. He probably learned "what not to do as a captain" from Sachin. If Sachin can be dropped and not missed (unthinkable in late 90s), credit goes to Ganguly. His second and most impressive achievement as a captain was dropping Anil Kumble. I have never stopped admiring him for trying to find an alternative to Kumble (I suspect Kumble will have a Ganguly-special section in his Autobiography). For a good period Kumble was never a certainity in the team and all credit to Ganguly for that. One may argue that Kumble came back strong after that period - but at the time Kumble was dropped, he really had it coming ('The Hindu' newspaper of course lick-assed Kumble for being the "silent victim" or worse "silent fighter" and some such nonsense). For a significant period of time I thought Kumble had existed in the Indian team purely because of a lack of alternative. Harbhajan became that alternative during Ganguly's tenure.

One cannot deny the selection of players like Zaheer, Yuvraj and Harbhajan or the presence of John Wright as an influencing factor in Ganguly's success. I am not sure if Ganguly had a say in their initial selection (Bhajji had debut under Bhai's captaincy, Zaheer/Yuvraj came in during Saurav's second ODI series as captain) but he stuck on to some good players. Many captains before him had good players. Under his captaincy, they seemed to be themselves instead of trying to play like a machine. It was almost as if he had released the players from something that held them back for while.

In my view, another reason why Ganguly did well as a captain was because his core team had played together for a longer-than-average period of time. They had seen most tours multiple times(They all toured England, RSA, Aus & WI at least thrice) and so learned well from their experience and began to improve with every trip. Plus Ganguly cut through some nonsense and got what he wanted in terms of support staff and infrastructure. He was fairly decent in giving chances to selected players. If I had to pick a blot, it would be S. Ramesh, Murali Karthik, Rahul Sanghvi and a few other people who were not provided adequate chances. On the bowling change, field placing aspects - I thought he was just as good as any other captain - nothing exceptional. The above are just theories. None of it may be true. The important thing was at the end of the day he won more than any other Indian captain. It’s like Seinfeld saying to George "I am just like you but only more successful".

1 comment:

Ramos said...

You really know jach$hit about Ganguly and cricket. So spare your fingerr from typing these pieces of utter trash.