Ganguly doesn?t belong any more

It was inevitable. The saga had to run out of steam one day. It did so on Thursday, writes Pradeep Magazine.

india Updated: Jul 22, 2006 15:43 IST

It was inevitable. The Sourav Ganguly saga had to run out of steam one day. It did so on Thursday, when he was dropped from the squad for the first Test against England, beginning on March 1 in Nagpur.

That India have a strong bench strength and have proved themselves in one-dayers could not have helped his cause.

The team is now bustling with youth. Though it is surprising that V.R.V. Singh and not Munaf Patel (who bowled so well against England in Vadodara on Thursday) is in the team, few will disagree with the selection of leg-spinner Piyush Chawla and the dashing Suresh Raina. After his impressive show in Pakistan, Sree Sreesanth’s claims too could not have been ignored.

In short, it will be difficult to find any fault with the selection — except for Ganguly’s exclusion.

One does not need to be a Sherlock Holmes to find out what must have transpired in the selection committee meeting in Vadodara. Coach Greg Chappell, who has done a tremendous job with the team, especially with the one-day squad, has no love lost for Ganguly.

Even Ganguly’s detractors were impressed by the way the former India captain batted in the Karachi Test. But his undoing was that he did not make a huge score and that must have come in handy for the Chappell-Kiran More combine to press for his non-inclusion. Even the absence of Yuvraj Singh (out of the team due to injury) did not help Ganguly find a place.

Chappell has won many admirers for the way he moulded this outfit. But it is clear that Rahul Dravid has had to use all his manmanagement skills to keep the flock together. Also, it is no secret that on his own, Dravid does not mind Ganguly being in the side but is wary of the bad vibes between the coach and his former captain. “He has all the time to worry about the situation getting out of hand and that’s one reason he’ll be more relieved than pained at his exclusion,” says an insider.

From Pakistan, there were conflicting reports about Ganguly's conduct.

For most -- and that included the players and manager Raj Singh Dungarpur -- he was a model of perfect behaviour and someone who won admirers for his "mental strength".

But for Chappell, all this was irrelevant. The coach has formed his opinion.

As one insider said, "He has a pathological hatred for Ganguly" and is supposed to have made over an hour's speech at the selection committee meeting where he sold his vision for Indian cricket. And in his Vision 2007, someone like Ganguly has no place. Even those who wanted Ganguly in the team before the meeting began, finally agreed with Chappell.

In More's words: "This committee will now not look behind." Read: Ganguly's career is more or less over now.

First Published: Feb 24, 2006 15:24 IST