It's been a week of dramatic developments, and Sourav Ganguly's return to the IPL is as dramatic as it gets.
Some might say his return was on the cards even though he went unsold in the auction in January. He had been linked to a couple of franchises and the Kochi Tuskers were considering roping him in. It is now confirmed that he will play for the Pune Warriors for the remainder of IPL-4.
I respect the fact that this is a decision of the franchise and Ganguly. But such moves will always have mixed reactions within the cricket fraternity.
After all, Ganguly has been a great contributor to Indian cricket, and his achievements as captain and batsman speak for themselves. Having said that, there is a time and place for everything, which is why I am not too convinced that his return is the most prudent step.
To start with, one must not mix the desire to play for India with wanting to play in the IPL. Whenever an individual starts playing competitive cricket, the ultimate goal is to represent the nation. Indeed, you could say there is a certain patriotic dimension attached, which is why it's understandable for even men on the wrong side of 40 to attempt an international comeback, so long as they are fit.
The IPL isn't about patriotism by any stretch of the imagination. You are playing for city-based franchises, and for most players, there is no correlation between where they were born and for whom they are playing. This is not to suggest that cricketers don't have an emotional connect with their teams.
Ganguly wasn't bought at the auction, and for him to sneak into the IPL at this stage, which is halfway through, isn't great timing. Once he went unsold at the auction, he was resigned to the fact that his career was over. Now, he has to start all over again, join a struggling team midway, and immediately start to pull his weight because he carries a lot of expectations.
One could argue that he is merely rising to the desperate need of a new, beleaguered team, but somehow, these aren't the right signals coming from someone who has done so much for Indian cricket.
The Warriors are desperate for results, but it's tough for someone who has not played competitive cricket for so long to come in and step up straightaway. The judgement of the Warriors and Ganguly can't be questioned, but in every sense, I doubt if this is a great move by someone who bid adieu with grace and dignity.