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Readers sound off on:

Saurav Ganguly and regionalism

Date: Mon, 06 Oct 1997 16:49:21 -0500
From: Abe Biswas <>

While I do not agree with Ashok Mitra's views on a successful cricketer reaping the benefits of endorsements and/or sponsorships, I couldn't agree more with him regarding the dirty politics played by certain lobbies in Indian cricket. No one has the right to destroy, or attempt to destroy, the career of a promising player.

What is really scary, though, is the propensity of some in the media to collude with these sectarians. Shouldn't some of these cricket pundits who labelled Ganguly's inclusion in the Indian team as the epitome of quota management now come forward and be men enough to admit their mistakes? I doubt they will, because they are probably busy now whining about exclusion of sundry Toms, Dicks and Harrys from the side, who happen to belong to their own zones.

I am glad that Ganguly, with his talent and determination, was able to take advantage of the half (maybe even less) chance granted him by the selectors. Thank God that these rotten elements of Indian cricket were unsuccessful in destroying his cricketing career, and him as a person (remember those snide remarks about his nickname, his ethnic origin, etc., etc?). I am also glad that we have such gutsy selectors as Sambaran Banerjee, who knows how it feels to be discriminated against. Without a strong-willed person like Banerjee, we wouldn't have the Mohantys and the Gangulys playing for India today.

Finally, thank you Dr. Mitra for a direct and hard-hitting article. I think you have spoken for a lot of people who would like to see fairness in the team selection process and for Indian cricket do well regardless of the state-of-origin of the players. Go India!

Abhijit Biswas
Associate Professor
E.J. Ourso College of Business
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803

Date: Mon, 06 Oct 1997 11:25:50 -0700
From: Brajesh Upadhyay <>

This is regarding Dr Ashok Mitra's article on Saurav Ganguly. We have to admit that when Saurav Ganguly was first selected to play for

India during the 1992 World Cup in Australia, it was on the regional quota basis. To be fair to the then team management, his performance in the first class matches was dismal and therefore, he didn't deserve a second look. At that time, the Indian batting line had Srikkanth, Shastri, Azhar, Sachin, Kambli, Manjrekar -- and Ganguly simply did not fit in. Agreed, he had tremendous potential -- but his time had not arrived yet.

Even his selection for the tour of England was on quota basis -- of a different sort. Because Kambli had fallen out of favour with the selectors for non-cricketing reasons and the team needed a left-hander in his place. Saurav made the most of this chance and cemented his place in the team through sheer hard work and determination. Now he is a pillar of the team, in terrific form, and we cannot imagine an Indian eleven without him. Good for him! If he continues at this pace, he will be in the league with the topmost batsmen - Sachin, Lara, Jayasuriya etc.

Brajesh Upadhyay

Date: Mon, 06 Oct 1997 13:21:33 -0400
From: Srini Sanivarapu <>

I am not quite sure what Dr Mitra is trying to tell us in his article. Is he justifying the quota system on the strength of Saurav Ganguly's recent performance ? Or is he suggesting that because of Saurav's match-winning performances, he is completely right and the rest of the world is completely wrong?

This article is too biased -- "Sambran Banerjee's intrepidity" and "Shivaji Park stuff" are not terms that a national level cricket analyst uses so liberally, to enhance his point of view. Dr Mitra probably does not realize that his attack on the "Bombay establishment" is two-edged; Sambran Banerjee's efforts to promote a cricketer from his own zone is conveniently played down and in fact portrayed as heroic, while the same behavior from his Bombay counterparts becomes politics!

Saurav Ganguly won five matches out of the eight we played against Pakistan this season for his side. He also took credit off himself and praised his teammates' efforts. We cannot see a better illustration of a team-man in recent Indian cricket. This, however, does NOT justify the quota system. Neither does it get Sambaran Banerjee or any East Zone selector off the hook.

India's problem IS the damning quota system. Saurav Ganguly should be persisted with in the team, not because he hails from a certain region in the country, but because he has stood out to be the match-winner that the world has seen him as, in recent times. When we select the eleven best players in the country, we select the eleven best players in the country, not the agglomeration of the best 2.2 players from each of the five cricket zones. If we choose not to recognize this fact, we will have more inexplicable selections like Saradindu Mukherjee, Arun Lal (the slip catch practice man), Chetan Sharma (when he played for Bengal) etc.

It is high time we overlooked regional considerations -- and analyses based on the same.

Srini Sanivarapu

Date: Mon, 06 Oct 1997 10:38:57 -0600
From: Navjeet S Sandhu <>

Cricket is controlled by people in Bombay. If other people try to come forward, they are discouraged.

Monopoly is evil and in that, I agree with you.

New comers should be given more chances, and we should change our thinking style. We should be more innovative and, even in crucial matches, newcomers should be allowed to play more important roles.

Navjeet Singh Sandhu

Date: Mon, 6 Oct 1997 11:12:06 -0500
From: "Bioinstrumentation" <>

This column brings forth the cause of the rut in Indian cricket today. It is people like Dr.Mitra, and others who share the same view, whose politics have maligned and destroyed Indian cricket.

Dr. Mitra in his shortsightedness is forgetting one very important aspect. If the same Saurav Ganguly was from Bombay, Bangalore, etc, there is a big chance that he would never have made it to the Indian squad because of the stupid quota system. No doubt Saurav Ganguly is a great player, and it his cricketing skills that do the talking for him, not his region. He is at the pinnacle today because of his cricketing skills and not because of the quota system or that Banerjee or his politics. As far as the selection goes, what justification is there to select players who can't even do well in domestic cricket, but need to be picked to fill a particular quota? Also, domestic success does not parlay into international class -- a point proved by the likes of W.V. Raman and Ajay Sharma. They were excellent in the domestic but miserable at the international level.

The point is that it is talent that should talk -- not the zones, or those like Dr Mitra who hold a regional brief.

Date: Mon, 06 Oct 1997 10:47:30 -0400
From: N T Shiv Kumar <>

It was very heart-warming to read Dr Ashok Mitra's essay on sectarianism afflicting Indian cricket and indeed, Saurav Ganguly was a good show-case to illustrate the vagaries of team selection and the ubiquitous 'regional' criteria applied to it. While I fully agree with Dr Mitra's views on the Ganguly story, I dont quite understand Dr Mitra confining himself just to the players from East Zone. There are umpteen cases of extremely talented cricketers from Tamil Nadu and the Central Zone who were on the fringes of making it to the team but could not, because there was no selector from this region to promote their cause. Robin Singh is a classic example of the apathy displayed by the selectors and how wrong they have been is proven by the unassuming Robin now that he is finally back in the side after eight long years. .There was at least one Sambaran Banerjee to help Ganguly, but none for players from Tamil Nadu.

Anyway, the point I am trying to make is there are lots of Ganguly-like cases from all over the country, and the only way to get rid of such situations is to dispense with the 'quota' system and have eminent players and cricketing intellectuals like Kapil, Gavaskar, Shastri, Srikanth, Vengsarkar, Ashok Mankad, Bedi and Prasanna to be on the selection panel. Nothing could do better for Indian cricket than having these gentlemen run the selection system, rather than the 'regional lords '.

N T Shiv Kumar

Editor's note: In recent times, no two articles have drawn as much mail as the ones on the Karachi stone throwing, and Dr Mitra's treatise on sectarianism in cricket selection.

What has been presented here is a cross-section of the opinions -- we will be adding more letters to both sections in the coming days.

Meanwhile, keep them coming.