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)