While team India licks its wounds in South Africa, the People’s Republic of Bengal has much to cheer about. Sourav Ganguly, the protagonist of 21st century India’s version of the Dreyfus Affair, has been recalled to the national Test team that will start its series with South Africa. The job of eating crow should become easier for the selectors who had pulled him out of captaincy last October, if for nothing else but for the fact that with Ganguly returning to the fold, things can’t get any worse.
Ganguly’s exclusion from the team had divided the nation into two. Half of India believed that with the ‘Prince of Calcutta’ having that ‘je ne sais qua’ that made him the country’s most successful captain, he was needed in a team that had made losing its default mode. The other half believed that Ganguly was a spent force, who was now better being in the pastures than on the pitch. But two things seem to have swung the call for recall. One, public outcry, and two, one set of statistics overwhelming the other. Ganguly’s Test record since 2005 hasn’t been worth talking about: 320 runs in nine matches at an average of 26.66. But with the Indian Team sans ‘Dada’ losing 11 out of the last 14 one-dayers since touring West Indies in May-July this year, Ganguly’s recent record seems almost charming.
Of course, there is the business of how India will gel as a team considering that coach Greg Chappell and Ganguly aren’t exactly beer buddies. But then, with two people out to prove their mettle — one to stave off cries of ‘off with his head’ and the other to disprove charges of being a ‘has been’ — things could look up for the rest of the team. We, here, are certainly going to hedge our bets.