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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Best captain of India: Ganguly or Dhoni?

Alright! I feel that I owe an explanation to the people who have been dissatisfied with my comment that Ganguly is the best captain so far India has ever produced. I indicated this opinion in reply to some of facebook wall posts where they invariably dragged Ganguly to compare with Dhoni after India won World Cup title of 2011. As if Ganguly haters have been waiting for that day to bring up the issue in the front and most of them started expressing their views that Dhoni is the best captain of India just after India won the World Cup 2011. Remember, even after the semifinals nobody said anything about Dhoni's "brilliance in captaincy" (maybe because of his "no-contribution" show all over the world cup up to the semifinal) but almost all minds changed when he performed during the final game (thanks to Gambhir to make that stage perfect for him, without Gambhir's that particular risky innings I doubt Dhoni would have done it that easily). This makes me think that for most cricket fans World cup is the actual boundary line for a captain to prove whether or not he's the best person for the job. Now here is my counter thought. If winning a World cup makes someone best captain ever, then why not Kapil Dev regarded as the best captain from 1983 to 2011? Here is another fact, it's not my opinion. Consider the conditions of the World cups which India either won or went almost 'close to win' situation before 2011. In 1983 & 2003 India won World cup & became runner up, respectively, and both times the tournament was held on seaming & bouncy wickets in England & South Africa respectively, contrary to 2011 when it was held in our "batsmen friendly" subcontinet pitches where balls usually don't bounce & move. So if 'World-Cup-winning' measures the best captaincy then why not the captains of those previous two occasions who leaded their teams in technically more adverse conditions? Ofcourse Ganguly never won World cup as a captain but he lost the final against that particular Australian team which, to my opinion, was way better than any team played even in this last World cup 2011.
Another point what fans are making is that Dhoni won the 20-20 World cup, made the team ranking number 1 in test & number 2 (or it's now 1?) in one dayers, and on the top of that India is now World champion & so Dhoni is the best Indian captain ever. Well, here is the point what Dhoni supporters are forgetting. During Ganguly's reign, there was no existence of 20-20 format & so we better not compare on the point what Ganguly never had a chance to prove at, especially when even many cricketing experts don't recognize 20-20 as a real cricket game but just a form of entertainment. Now the ranking thing. When Dhoni got the team it was already number 2 in one dayers and number 2 in test ranking as well. So Dhoni just needed to work on the team after that from position 2 to make it number 1. However, it's better to state here that Ganguly took the captaincy during the time when "Sachin-tested-as-a-captain" project failed & there was nobody (yes, nobody) who wanted to take that position at that point. On the top of that there was match fixing episodes & other scams. The team was nowhere in the ranking near the top cricket teams such as Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka even England. The team ranking was in the middle of the table just merely before Pakistan. From that point Ganguly took over the captaincy & started building up the team without even thinking about any regional biasness which was very common before him. I remember, up to Azhar's reign the selectors used to pick players based on their regional "quota" numbers and not based on their cricketing abilities. That's why so many Dodda Ganesh, Abbe Kuruvilla, Venkatpathy Raju etc. have been playing in the team for so long. Well, here comes Ganguly. He took captaincy & he started picking up players based on their merits and thus Bhajji, Yuvi, Sehwag, Zaheer, Kaif & even Dhoni were picked at different points of his captaincy period. So in Indian cricket he started this policy of picking players based on their cricketing ability & not on the selector's regional biasness which sadly not many recognize till date. Another valid point is that we always were called as "travelers" each time when India used to go abroad for playing tests & one dayers; everyone used to think that a draw would be a more than satisfactory result in tests. It was Ganguly who changed that episode too. We started winning test matches & one dayers on foreign soils & eventually we came up to the point of having second position in the table. Without having these drastic changes I doubt Dhoni would have made it to this position of number one status in 2 versions of the game. Of course Dhoni had contribution towards the team performance lately which we all appreciate very much but Ganguly had the vision for future & he executed that. Dhoni was lucky that he didn't have to get a team with corruption. Dhoni was lucky as he didn't have to be a puppet on the hands of regional selectors. Dhoni was lucky that he didn't have to take the burden of stripping off the "traveler" players from the team & find new talents for future; in other words he already got the nucleus of the team for both versions of the game.
Described above are the real facts. Now here is my thoughts again regarding captaincy. Think about the Australia team for a moment. Do you think that Mark Taylor who never won World cup was worse than Steve or Ponting? Think again. Taylor made the Australian team with all those big names & shown world that they can win. Steve Waugh carried on with McGrath, Lee, Ponting, Mark Waugh, himself, Gilchrist & Shane Warne & started winning almost all the matches everywhere, became number 1 team in both versions of the game for sufficient time & won World cup. Now here is my point. Then Ricky Ponting took the captaincy from Steve & he won 2 World Cups. So now do you think Ponting is better captain than Steve? Look now; when all those heavyweight players are gone (as they retired), Ponting started losing in both versions of the game. If he was that good he would have picked up new talented players for future exactly what Dada did for his team. I remember, until Ganguly found Dhoni, he kept playing Dravid in the one dayers as the wicket-keeper when Dravid was almost being dropped for his slow scoring rate in one dayers. If this success rate of Dhoni is similar & consistent even after retirement of Sachin & Dravid (from both one day & tests) then only, to my opinion, you can compare the captaincy of Ganguly & Dhoni. 
Anyway, I guess I'm clear enough to give you my insight on this issue but before wrapping it up here is my two cents.
Suppose in one household there is a father & his son. They are financially very poor. Now the father worked hard & sacrificed a lot to save money to build a house while raising his family as well. Eventually he made a small house & raised his son very well that he became very established man. Then the son made the house way nicer & bigger than his father. Now who do you give more credit for their current status? The father or the son? 

PS: Here are couple of links what I guess would be useful to share. These interviews or the articles were made after India won this World cup 2011, so Kapil & Kumble exactly knew what they are talking about. (Kumble's opinion about Ganguly's captaincy just after the 2011 World Cup win) (Sachin's opinion about Ganguly's captaincy just 2 weeks before the 2011 World Cup win) (Sachin's opinion about Dhoni's captaincy just after the 2011 World Cup win) (Kapil's opinion about Ganguly's captaincy just after the 2011 World Cup win) (Ganguly's latest response towards the best captaincy issue)


And here is what recently Azhar said about the issue: