Can Ganguly do a Gilchrist?
It seems that unpredictability or uncertainty is the way God has paved for Sourav Ganguly. Just when it looked that Ganguly had no chance of making a comeback, he surprised one and all with an astounding round of achievements. He has done it in the past, both as a cricketer and as a captain, while donning the Indian colours. And now, he is poised to get another chance of reviving his fortune along with the beleaguered Kolkata Knight Riders in the third edition of Indian Premier League.
This year when Sourav Ganguly was removed from the Kolkata Knight Riders’ captaincy, obituary was written for Ganguly, the captain. People said that that was the end of display of Ganguly’s captaincy skills, since he no longer plays for India. But now reports have indicated that he will don the skipper’s role again in the next edition of the T20 league.
Much water has flown under Kolkata’s Hoogly bridge…Buchanan’s Multiple-Captain theory, Brendon McCullum’s ascendancy to KKR captainship replacing Ganguly, KKR’s abysmal show under him, owner Shah Rukh Khan’s utter frustration that saw him leaving the team midway through the IPL-II, ghost writers giving away secret dressing room information, the Indian and foreigner controversy …and then the unceremonious exit of coach John Buchanan and his support staff, or rather his family members…All happened within a time-span of less than six months.
Kolkata’s cricket frenzy people were utterly frustrated when captaincy was snatched from the hands of their very own Dada whom they love, adore and idolize; as also with the negative developments in their team. It thus follows that they would be terrifically happy at the way things have turned out for Ganguly after all.
But the million dollar question remains, can Sourav Ganguly inspire one of the greatest comebacks for the Kolkata franchise, leading his team to win the crown in 2010? Can Ganguly recreate the magic of his captaincy to instil confidence and self-belief that he used to do in his teammates as an Indian captain? Will he be able to match the charisma of Shane Warne and Adam Gilchrist, who helped their respective teams-Rajasthan Royals and Deccan Chargers- win the IPL title?
Contrary to popular belief, age is not a factor in T20. In fact, Shane Warne and Adam Gilchrist succeed at what was considered the ripe old age for cricketers. Sanath Jayasuriya is time and again showing that notwithstanding his age, he has kept his firepower intact. Maybe all these players have become more dangerous after adding all the years of experience in their armory.
If Rajasthan Royals’ glorious run under Shane Warne in the inaugural edition is nothing but a fairy tale, Deccan Chargers’ turnaround from bottom to top position can be an inspiration for any team struggling to find their feet under the sun.
It’s no doubt that Ganguly is no more the attacking batsman he used to be some five or six years back. He surely has lost his old domination for which he was feared by the bowlers all over the world. Ganguly’s poor performance with the bat in the second edition of IPL in South Africa testifies to the fading glory of his willow. This will be the first hindrance he will face as a leader.
If he wants to rule the T20 format as a batsman, he has to regain his old domineering self. A captain can’t earn respect by simply instructing his players to take the onus on them. It’s he who should show them better. People like John Buchanan can get away with preaching, but not inspirational characters like Ganguly, who has always liked to lead his team by example.
The next and probably the biggest problem that is likely to obstruct Ganguly’s ambition of making KKR a champion side is that his team is not tailor-made for T20 cricket. KKR have several loopholes and weak links in their team. The biggest problem that KKR is facing is the lack of quality domestic players. Since only four foreigners are allowed to take part in a team, it’s the performance of the domestic players that decides the fortune of any team.
From the very first year, this particular aspect went horribly wrong for them. Neither the local players like Arindam Das, Debabrata Ghosh, Yashpal Singh, Cheteshwar Pujara nor the India discards Ajit Agarkar, Aakash Chopra or Sanjay Bangar are the cricketers who can set the cricket field on fire, whosoever is leading them or however many captains KKR decides to employ.
Apart from Ganguly, who kept on shuffling himself from opening to middle-order, no Indian players has been able to play any decisive innings in the two editions of IPL. If Ganguly wants to change KKR’s fortune, he should pick up some Indian talent that is capable of shouldering the responsibility of middle-order.
In the bowling department too, Ganguly should understand that his former India team-mates Ajit Agarkar and Murali Karthik are a spent force now and look out for good young bowlers. It’s no point in carrying with them in the team.
It puts a question mark on the judgement of whoever from the team management wanted to have Agarkar and Aakash Chopra in the team before the IPL-I.
Agarkar has always been notorious for giving away too many runs in the death overs. Apart from two or three matches in his entire career, he has never won a match for India under trying circumstances.
Maybe his all-round skills, (which are yet to flourish!!), might have inspired confidence among the KKR think-tank before the first edition. Aakash Chopra and Sanjay Bangar might have played some gusty Test innings for India, but they never played any significant innings in the shorter format anywhere in the world.
Ganguly, being the astute man, should take the charge of the team and pick up some young players, who are more suited to the slam-bang format.
Knowing Ganguly for two decades, one can rest assured that the man has all the capability of turning the wheels of fortune for KKR. And for that, he has Adam Gilchrist and his Deccan Chargers for inspiration.