The Ganguly debate continues February 20, 2006

Time to bid Ganguly goodbye, says Wadekar


Ajit Wadekar has called for Sourav Ganguly to be ushered out of the frame © Getty Images

Ajit Wadekar, the former India captain, said it was time for Sourav Ganguly to step down. Kiran More, the selection committee chairman, had on Saturday refused to confirm whether Ganguly would be considered for the first Test against England starting in Nagpur on March 1. The squad for that match will be announced in Baroda on February 23.

"There is no harm in Ganguly being included in the side but I suppose the time has come [for him to end his career]. The Aussies told Steve Waugh when it was time for him to step down," Wadekar told PTI.

Wadekar, also a former coach and chief selector, said even if Ganguly was picked for the Test series against England, it would only be a stop-gap arrangement. "Let us be frank. Let us face the fact. The team is winning without Sourav, the youngsters are doing well and it is time to tell Sourav 'thank you very much. This is your last year', it should be like that," he said.

Wadekar, who was chairman of selectors when both Ganguly and Rahul Dravid made their Test debut in England in 1996, claimed that the team management was "forced" to include Ganguly in the team for the Test series against Pakistan. He also criticised the move to open the batting with Dravid to enable Ganguly to be in the final XI. "I think that was wrong," Wadekar said. "We had three specialist openers, and they were thinking of Sourav also as a opener, just to accommodate him. Wasim Jaffer could have gone to see Pakistan any time. I mean, you have three specialist openers, and you cannot make them passengers. The ideal number for Rahul is three in the batting and he should stick to that."

He was, however, all praise for Dravid. "He is a guy who leads from the front. Look at the difference between him and Inzamam," he said. "He decided to open the batting himself, even against [Greg] Chappell's wishes, because he wanted to shield Sourav, whereas Inzamam tried to shield himself by coming in at number six (in the one-dayers). Dravid is a thinker and a cool guy."

On the forthcoming series, Wadekar felt that England sides toured the subcontinent with the wrong attitude. "They come with a suspicious mind - 'the wicket is going to be bad, climate is going to go against them', as if it is in our hands," he said. "They want all the facilities in the world, which we don't get when we go there. We have a lot to talk about them but we don't grumble, we just focus on our cricket. So by the time they get out of that mindset, the tour is over."

England have visited India 11 times in more than 70 years of Test rivalry between the two teams and they have won only four series in India. In 46 Tests on Indian soil, the hosts have a 12-10 head-to-head record.