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|March 14, 2000||
Getting it rightSujata Prakash
He is to the manner born. Saurav Ganguly is no reluctant paramour. He seems to have embraced the job with outstretched arms and a huge smile. And more relevant for us, he is an erudite speaker who actually has been talking of a game plan, of ironing out weaknesses and making sure the creases don't come back, of believing in telling the new players to shape up or ship out - but only after they have been given a fair 5 chances or more to prove their mettle: not one and nothing that was his due eight long years back.
Read his interviews and he impresses easily with his sincerity and maturity. He wants to be a fair captain, a strict captain, a strategically wise captain - but most of all he wants to be a successful captain. His inheritance is a team that has been laughed at in Australia, and subsequently written off by most as being weak in all departments. But he relishes the challenge. One of the mottos he likes to carry around reads 'If your job is totally free of problems that's no job.'
It will probably be easier for him to tackle the problem of dealing with a lax fielder than the bossy BCCI who like to pick and drop players on sudden whims. Or are they whims. Might we be misjudging our esteemed board members and being too harsh on them? I for one am convinced that like most men in prominent positions they want to appear outstandingly astute, but it's like letting Laloo Prasad Yadav and his men handle the running of Wipro and then wondering why the company has started to resemble a dairy farm a year down the road!
Ganguly has another plus going for him - apart from not fearing to be outspoken if required. According to his former coach, he has the requisite educational background needed to be a good manager of men. Now this is a controversial belief and statistically impossible to prove. Kapil Dev might not be a scholar but he did garner the 83' World Cup. However, I find it something to chew on. Consider for a moment how much harder it might be to lead a team almost two decades later. Times have changed and players have bigger egos which come with endorsements and money. Add to that the prevailing defeatist attitude in the team. You need a channelised mind, a learned and learning mind, to deal with all this without being abrasive or ineffectual.
So far so good. Two matches have been won and the bets are on that two more will be in this series. Ganguly as captain does not give the imression (unlike Azhar) that a three-win series is as good as a five-win series. He's been waiting for this promotion for ages, and he's brimming with ideas and enthusiasm. He loves himself just that little bit more every time he does something laudable, which is what will drive him to goad the others to strive for better performances.
More power to him. This is where Sachin failed. He never could believe in anyone but himself, and every time India lost, he wilted inside. What a waste it has been. The finest batsman in the world reduced to looking dejected and struggling for runs. You have only to look at his face to know that the past four months have been no picnic for him. And all this because the BCCI cannot learn from a mistake made unless repeated at least twice.
This time round however, they seem to have it right. No credit to them, of course. After a hit and miss process of elimination they had to settle for the last but not the least candidate. And they've chosen a man who loves the title but is not afraid to lose it. All he's afraid of is letting himself down.
Mail Prem Panicker
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