Friday, May 11, 2007
The punishment for success
It's interesting that two of the most dangerous batsmen in the World Cup were both openers and left-handers who made comebacks. Sri Lanka's Sanath Jayasuriya is 37 and last year he had retired from the game after a long run of poor form. Similar was the return of Mathew Hayden at 33 after being dropped from the Australian team. Sound familiar? Sourav Ganguly, a left-hander and an opener, came back into the Indian team against all odds after Chappell and More forced him out, and with some justification because his game had gone to pieces. But, like Jayasuriya and Hayden, he used the break from international cricket to work on his fitness and iron out the flaws in his batting that had become the targets of bowlers. But that's where the similarity ends. Ganguly finds himself out of the Indian ODI side in spite of averaging over 60 in his last ten innings, being the man of the series against Sri Lanka before the World Cup, and doing better than most of the other Indian batsmen at the World Cup. Of course, 'resting' him for three ODIs against Bangladesh isn't a big deal, but it sends out the wrong signal - that performance and fitness, hard work and determination don't count for much in Indian cricket. Ad hocism rules. Why would Ganguly need a rest after cooling his heels for a year and a half? Give younger players a chance by all means, but let them take the place of jaded or non-performing players. In any case, Ganguly's replacement Gautam Gambhir has had several opportunities to prove himself and by now it should have been apparent that he does not have what it takes to make the cut. There are some players who make tons of runs in the domestic circuit on easy tracks against weak bowling but whose faults get exposed at the international level. Gambhir seems to be of that ilk and his failure in the first ODI against Bangladesh was a familiar sight. He might get a few in the next two matches but would prove nothing. It is Bangladesh, after all, even if we have made them look like Australia.