Millennium Post

Captain Cool can’t outshine Ganguly

It is not surprising that Brian Lara, the former cricket captain of West Indies, should have described Saurav Ganguly as his favourite captain from among those of the opposing teams. Ganguly’s fighting qualities are well known to the cricketing public and it is his pugnacious attitude that has made him such a lovable figure. They have aroused admiration in opponents even as they have elicited adulation among his fans. Though out of cricket for some time, Ganguly is still remembered with affection by the adherents of the game. Perhaps not the best batsman for India, he is among its most successful captains. Ganguly is a Mike Brearley like figure whose batting record does not match his astuteness as a captain. Ganguly led India between 2001 and 2005 in 49 matches with 21 wins, 13 losses and 15 draws. The jury is still out on who is India’s best captain, with Ganguly and Dhoni competing for the top position at present, though there are others in the past whose captaincy was outstanding but whom the statistics or the length of their career as captain may not support. Though Dhoni has more test wins than Ganguly, there is more to captaincy than mere statistics. Ganguly's claim to fame is his success away from home, where the conditions are far different and not so easy as in India and where the previous track record of Indian captains was dismal though there are shining exceptions. In Ganguly’s time, India played 28 Tests away from home, winning 11, drawing seven and losing 10. Lara, in discussing Ganguly’s captaincy qualities, remarks on his display against Australia which was at that time the world’s strongest team.

  Ganguly assumed the captaincy of the Indian team at a time when the team was not a fighting unit and he had to mould it. At that time the top Indian players such as VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Harbhajan Singh had not peaked as they were to do later and even Sachin Tendulkar was going through a lean patch. Ganguly had to build Team India and he was outstanding in this endeavour even off the field, choosing players disregarding parochial backgrounds some past skippers who picked their favourites. Captaincy is not an easy art. Not every cricketer can master it. It is to Ganguly’s credit that he is still remembered so much.
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