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Karuna's nidhi for cricket board

Politics of vindictiveness does not pay in the long run and BCCI must learn this from Karunanidhi, writes Atul Sondhi.

india Updated: May 13, 2006 17:54 IST

In Dravidian politics, where at times opposition politicians even refuse to greet each other, Karunanidhi tried to break fresh ground when he called for an end to the politics of vendetta.

The 82-year-old patriarch probably does not want the state to suffer any longer from the rabid rivalry that has plagued Tamil politics for decades.

If there is a lesson to be learnt, then the Board of Control for Cricket in India will do a great service to the game if they try and understand the spirit of what Karunanidhi said.

Politics of vindictiveness, the latest manifestation being gag on cricketers from speaking out their mind, is a case in point.

What is Sehwag's fault after all? Much to the amusement of the cricketing fraternity, the Indian opener'srecent string of low scores did not invite as much outcry from the BCCI as his one harmless gratuitous comment about an ex-captain, who does not find favour with the present establishment.

Miss, and get hit

What's wrong if Sehwag sometimes "misses" Ganguly. It is debatable if Sehwag missing any other cricketer would have invited the wrath of the Board Mandarins as much as him missing the ex-captain.

But Ganguly is a persona-non-grata and wisdom of anyone, even if he is the first in the queue for the Team India leadership, can not be trusted if he chooses to praise a personality which undoubtedly shaped the Indian cricket in the first half of the present decade.

Sourav's legacy cannot be questioned. His style may have created many an unfriendly vibes, but also made the national team selection well and truly a national affair. Unlike many other captains, Ganguly proceeded to look beyond the zones and never unduly favoured his state-mates. Deep Dasgupta, a Bengal stumper, may have got more chances than he deserved, but so did Parthiv Patel of Gujarat.

Sourav's Boys

It is not only Sehwag, but there are many like Yuvraj, Pathan, Nehra, Zaheer and Harbhajan, who are indebted to the ex-skipper for the number of opportunities he gave them. But more importantly, for the faith he showed in their caliber. Though they may not be inclined to express that in as many words now.

Who can forget that in a team boasting of one of the best middle order comprisingTendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Ganguly, with no vacancy likely for next many year, the former skipper ensured that the talented lad from Nazafgarh continued in the Test team, even if in the unfamiliar role of an opener.

In a similar vein, after a series of average scores post-Nairobi, many doubted the credentials of Yuvraj Singh to make it really big. But Sourav always had the faith in him. If the Punjab boy delivered, the credit goes as much to the ex-captain as to the present team management.

Today, the logical extension of Ganguly's Pan-Indian policy has been the emergence of players from the little known regions of India. The Rainasof the world would not have made it but it has been possibel for Ganguly's ground work undertaken years ago.

However, for the Indian board, it is not Ganguly's policies or record as captain, but closeness to the Dalmiya faction, which is more critical.

Since Ganguly can not be nailed for financial misappropriations, he must fade away from public memory. Any effort to recall him is an unfriendly act. What Karunanidhi wants the Tamilian parties to get rid of, Board wants to continue with that very malaise.

There are no permanent friends!

Sehwag's rusticity and straight-forwardness probably explains his very unfamiliarity with the convention thatthere are no permanent friends and enemies. He may have failed to understand that if you treat friends as permanent, you will only end up with permanent enemies. Hence came his comment.

Apparently, the comment was as undiplomatic as Sehwag's famous quip few years back when asked what was the difference between him and Sachin. Sehwag promptly shot back,''The Bank balance".

But then Sehwag was the rising star of Indian cricket, the indispensable darling. Not any more,so probably he should have kept mum. But knowing his style, some straight-talk can always be expected from the Indian Vice Captain. And that's what people love him for.

Message to Selectors?

Now the Board's displeasure may have also sent a message to the selectors. That Sourav will not go to the West Indies as part of the Test team. If that happens, it will certainly rob the Indian team of some valuable experience in the testing conditions of the Caribbean.

Ganguly was tremendous on the last tour to the West Indies in 2001-02. His fifty plus average was responsible for India giving them a tough fight before succumbing 1-2 in the Test series.

Whatever be his last few performances, Ganguly's contribution to Indian cricket has been immense.

Ganguly's Roll of Honour

If Ajit Wadekar is eulogised for twin triumphs against the West Indies and England in 1971, Ganguly's no-nonsense approach ensured that India ended up beating Australia 2-1 in 2001, in perhaps the best three-Test series of all times.

If Kapil Dev brought laurels to India winning the 1983 World Cup, Ganguly almost equalled the feat 20 years later in South Africa.

If Azharuddin ensured that India steamrolled allopposition at home in the nineties, Ganguly helped the team record their first ever series triumph in Pakistan in 2004.

Leader of men deserves better

Ganguly has been one of the best captains India have produced in their cricketing history. He gave the team a self-belief, and an ability to stare into the eye of the opponent. He gave, what we may call, an Australian attitude to the team much before Chappell came.

The likes of Toofani Irfan, Dhamakedar Dhoni and Turbunator would not have been hithad Ganguly not supported them during their initial days.

With so much of contribution to the Indian cricket, that legacy of the temperamental Kolkattan certainly can not be forgotten…whatever happens to his future as a batsman.

If Ganguly is not there, he will always be missed.

First Published: May 13, 2006 13:59 IST