Sharad Pawar, president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, was reported by NDTV to be "surprised" and a little "shocked" at the axing of Sourav Ganguly, India's most successful Test captain, from the squad for the third Test against Sri Lanka at Ahmedabad.
IS Bindra, the president of the Punjab Cricket Association, and Pawar confidante told the television channel that Pawar had asked him why he [Pawar] hadn't been consulted on the selectorial decision, to which Bindra replied that this was no longer the norm. Bindra, however, indicated that Pawar "could definitely" take up with the selectors the manner in which the axing was done.
Bindra too was "shocked" by Ganguly's axing. "My objection is not on cricketing grounds but about the way, the form, the process how he [Ganguly] was dropped. He should have been given the option to choose his exit. That courtesy should have been extended to a former captain," Bindra told NDTV.
Following India's comprehensive 188-run victory over Sri Lanka at the Ferozeshah Kotla on Wednesday, the national selectors announced that Ganguly, who contributed 40 and 39 in the match, would not be in the 15-man squad for the final Test.
And even as protestors took to the streets in Kolkata, Ganguly's hometown, and burnt effigies of the selectors to protest his exclusion, former Indian cricketers and officials too joined the chorus.
Responding to what Kiran More, the chairman of selectors, termed a "unanimous decision in five minutes", Erapalli Prasanna, the former Indian spinner, told Times of India: "I am shocked. I don't think he should have been treated like this. He performed quite well in the Delhi Test.
"Dropping him from the third Test defies logic. He has served Indian cricket for years. You can't treat such a cricketer so shabbily."
Speaking to DNA, a Mumbai-based daily, Dileep Vengsarkar, the veteran of 116 Tests for India, summed up his disappointment at Ganguly's exclusion. "I don't agree with this decision. He had a good run in New Delhi," Vengsarkar said. "I don't know on what grounds he has been axed. Now, it seems he won't be selected for the Pakistan tour."
Gautam Dasgupta, until recently a senior official of the BCCI, also questioned the selectors' decision, and hinted at ulterior motives. "When Ganguly was kept out of the one-day squad, some people put forth the argument that a winning combination shouldn't be disturbed," he said. "Then how come Ganguly has been axed only hours after India won the Test? This decision is motivated."
Asked by a television journalist if Ganguly should retire from international cricket, Syed Kirmani, the former wicketkeeper, clearly denied this is even an option for the man. "He has got a lot of cricket left in him. He has vast experience and his inclusion will only add moral support to the team. I am sure with his fighting qualities he might just come back," said Kirmani, who was a part of the 1983 side that won the World Cup. "What's more, this exclusion could act as a motivating factor and inspire him further. He can look at my example from 1986 to 1993, when I played domestic cricket, but could never comeback to Indian team. It was always banging against a wall, but never give up."
Sandeep Patil, also a part of the 1983 World Cup side, agreed with his former team-mate. "I won't say so. He is not past his prime. Look at how [Navjot Singh] Sidhu and Mohinder Amarnath came back after being dropped. Sourav can too."
"I am a little surprised. This is a bit too harsh on him," Anshuman Gaekwad, a former coach of the national side, told Times of India. "He had not done badly at all in New Delhi. But, he still has the spirit; he can still make a comeback. He is proven material, he should go back to Ranji Trophy, keep scoring runs and prove everyone wrong. He is still fit enough and has enough cricket left in him."
Claiming that Ganguly had been given a raw deal, Prasanna maintained that if the selectors all along had the intent of dropping Ganguly, they should have been frank with him. "To sum it up, I feel that history has repeated itself. This is the manner in which we have been treating our heroes."
Ganguly himself has not given up. "I'll go back and play domestic cricket and try to fight my way back into the team," he told the Press Trust of India.