June 14, 2001

Ganguly has the advantages to become a good captain

A captain should have the utmost integrity" was the profound statement made by Rodney Marsh recently in a coaching seminar

A captain should have the utmost integrity" was the profound statement made by Rodney Marsh recently in a coaching seminar. On the face of it, it is a simple statement but it carries the strongest message for captains at all levels. Marsh never led Australia but he was a keen student of the game whose advice was sought very often by his captains. Mind you, he played most of his cricket under the Chappell brothers who were no spring onions when it came to cricketing intelligence.

Captaincy is not an easy job for anyone and it is that much harder for the captains of the sub continent. More often than not, the captains are the ones to carry the can when the team fails to produce results. As far as the sub-continent is concerned, it is a glamorous job only when the team is on a roll. At the moment, Sourav Ganguly is enjoying his job as captain as the Indians are doing well. Let me hasten to add that Ganguly took up the job under the most unusual and macabre circumstances.

Ganguly has the advantages to become a good captain. First of all, he can be called as an all-rounder and as such he can perceive the thought process of his batsmen and bowlers. Secondly he had to fight his way back into the team after being in the wilderness. Since he knows what it is to make a comeback, presumably he knows how to deal with the fringe players. Thirdly, he would be aware of all the mistakes his predecessors made in terms of strategy and thus avoid repeating them. Most importantly, he does not have too many strong contenders from his state thereby minimising the chances of Ganguly showing favouritism. Ganguly had to set a few things right on the current trip to Zimbabwe as the success against the Aussies is history now. He had the responsibility of producing a Test victory away from the sub-continent. Added to that, he had to prove his critics wrong by putting up runs against his name. It is under these circumstances that a captain's mental toughness is severely tested.

Even though the victory was against Zimbabwe, Ganguly has passed the test as a captain because he was confident and positive in deciding the final combination for the Test match. He has to realise that it is impossible to please everybody and that he has to accept criticism. Ganguly has backed his team to the hilt so far and quite obviously his team has enhanced the image of cricket and cricketers in the last year. Then, of course he still has to get back into form and lead his team to victory in the coming season against some good opposition. In order to do that, he needs a bit of luck as well (like all captains need) and until now lady luck has been with him. He also has in John Wright a very hard working coach, which probably his predecessors lacked. One can only hope that Ganguly and his gang continue to make winning a habit.