On Ganguly’s contribution and subsequent dismissal

Before I get to the conspiracy theory, lets just compare Yuvraj’s contribution to that of Ganguly in the Delhi test. I assess test match performances in a manner that is unconventional: I believe Test cricket is about contributing to the teams cause, and that individual brilliance, though ‘pretty’, should only be seen in the context of the match. I don’t rate either of Brian Lara’s world record scores, because they weren’t result oriented. On to the numbers, then:

Individual contributions (total)
Saurav Ganguly: 79 runs, 348 min, 244 balls
Yuvraj Singh: 77 runs, 230 min, 173 balls

Contribution to the team:
Ganguly: 214 runs (121 runs with Tendulkar, 12 runs with Dravid, 81 runs with Yuvraj)
Yuvraj: 183 runs (1 with Tendulkar, 81 with Ganguly, 101 with Dhoni)

Now, Ganguly’s done much better than Yuvraj if you look at it in the context of the game – he was involved in important partnerships in both innings, and probably prevented a collapse. He gave support to Tendulkar in the first, and collaborated well with Yuvraj in the second. India was placed rather precariously when he came to bat in both innings (133/3 and 190/5 respectively).

By the time Dhoni came to bat in the second innings, India were in a comfortable position – which allowed Yuvraj to play freely. Before you think I’m going overboard, I’m not a Ganguly fan. If anything, I harbour a slight bias against Ganguly, but I give credit where it is due: he didn’t deserve to be dropped. Yuvraj, though, did himself a lot of good in the second innings and remained not out, which meant that he could have scored more runs.

Why, then, was Ganguly dropped?

One is the Maharashtra lobby theory, which does hold some water, given that Ajit “one boundary ball an over” Agarkar keeps getting picked ahead of an in-form Zaheer Khan and a supposedly forgotten L.Balaji. Wasim Jaffer plays for Maharashtra or Mumbai?

It could also be that Ganguly’s selection was not credible (I didn’t agree with it), and hence they tried to undo a wrong by axeing him; thats a case of two wrongs not making a right.

I think that it’s a combination of Gambhir’s failure, Yuvraj’s 77* and Sehwag’s return that led to Ganguly being dropped: An opener to partner Sehwag was necessary, and asking Yuvraj/Ganguly to open would he unfair. Viewing Yuvraj’s 77* as more important than Ganguly’s contributions (not correct, as previously explained), they could not exclude him from the team if included in the squad. So, they kept Gambhir and dropped Ganguly.

I believe Ganguly should have been asked to open with Sehwag, and the same team should have been fielded. If the management has shown the willingness to experiment, then why shy away from this one? Ganguly, incidentally, has contributed on field in terms on advise to Irfan and
field placement suggestions. In a test match, experience counts.

Of course, a few people have said that his fielding has improved, but that doesn’t amount to much: the only thing that has changed is his willingness to field. He’s not quite a Jonty dada yet.

(Remember Jonty Singh? Siddhu’s return to ODI’s was particularly noticeable for the marked improvement in his fielding. He said his son urged him to work on his fielding. Gavaskar had rechristened him Jonty Singh)

P.s.: I’d cross-posted this on the Prempanix Discussion Group. Prem has cross-posted it on his blog, since. ūüôā

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  1. A megalomanica, with no intention other than securing runs for himself, irrespective of how the team would do, taking undue advantage of being captain of the team and hence not letting his own position compromised, with zero contribution in fielding (or should I say negative), and horrible running between the wickets (ask Rahul Dravid) – how can you still defend him? Forget Yuvraj’s runs – even if he had scored golden ducks in both innings, I would have selected him.

  2. I believe Test cricket is about contributing to the team’s cause, and that individual brilliance, though ‘pretty’, should only be seen in the context of the match.

    I’m a little surprised you say this, given you’re a Tendulkar fan. When he was at his peak (a time that, as Sambit Bal recently wrote, coincided with the team being at its worst) some of his finest innings were all about providing people with a glimpse of individual genius almost as compensation for their team doing badly.

    For me it’s individual over team anyday, especially when the indivs are people like Tendu and Lara. (BTW, I also think you’re being harsh on BL – do go back and look at the scorecard of the match in which he made his 375. No question there of his not contributing to the team’s cause. On a pitch where a 10-day match might have been drawn on most occasions, West Indies were in danger of losing when he came to the crease.)

  3. Okay, I got the BL 375 thing slightly wrong – memory played tricks on me, I thought England had batted first in that match. But the second-highest score by a West Indian in that innings was 75. That says a lot.

  4. Squared: If Yuvraj can be allowed to change, temperamentally, then Ganguly should too. I feel that the stint in domestic cricket did him a lot of good (just as it helped Yuvraj). Anyway, it will be interesting to see how much time the ‘youngsters’ will be given before they’re dropped. Yuvraj and Kaif have been in the team long enough to be expected to perform consistently.

    If only Lara would learn to declare so as to give his team a chance to win… Do you remember the Mid-Day Shastri interview? When (allegedly) Gaekwad told Tendulkar that the conspirators were planning to match the next day, he went out and got a hundred to win them the game. I love individual brilliance, but I respect team contributions. Which is why I’m also a Kumble, Rafique, Naved ul Hasan Rana and Robin Singh fan. I prefer Kaif over Yuvi because I feel Kaif plays for the team while Yuvi plays for himself. Like I’d said, I love watching hard-fought maiden overs because of the mental battles. Anyway, here’s what Sambit said:

    He spent the first ten years of his career as India’s lone saviour on foreign shores and he battled alone either to save Tests or minimise the humiliation in face of absolute calamity.

    Harneet: great timing: Here’s Adi Bidi on suckers for tragedy. I think Ganguly deserves another few go’s.

  5. Hopefully, now that a bit of time has passed, the country – its fans/ media (and parliament !) will realise that the issue was not Ganguly’s selection but the absolutely pathetic way in which the spokespeople for the selection committee handled it right from the start of the series.
    Whats worse, they’ll probably select Ganguly for Pakistan and make efforts at explaining it again…

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