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Probuddha Bhattacharjee ∙ Sep 9 2022, 6:05 PM | 4 Min Read

What If.. Sourav Ganguly was never made the captain of the Indian team?

image-l7udgokvSourav Ganguly was a leader who changed the course of Indian cricket (PC: Twitter)

One of the most important events in the history of Indian cricket was Sourav Ganguly being elected as the full time captain of the team. The cricketing fraternity was clouded by the match-fixing controversy at this stage and some big Indian names were also involved in it. 

Sachin Tendulkar was appointed the skipper of the team after India’s 1999 World Cup debacle. But after a dismal show in the following Australia tour and a loss in the home series against South Africa, the master stepped down from the role.

There were a lot of discussions and meetings among the BCCI board members and selectors to find the next man to lead team India. Sourav Ganguly being one of the top performers and being a regular in both the Test and ODI format was handed over the responsibility.

Sourav found himself at the helm of a team with loads of talent but with little idea of the path to take. He took charge of the unit and gradually transformed it into team India. 

But what if he was never made the captain of the team? 

India would have never seen the shift to aggressive mentality

image-l7udnwqqSourav Ganguly's famous Lord's incident (PC : Twitter)

Sourav led the Indian team at a time when Australia was ruling the world of cricket. It was Sourav who prompted his team to counter-sledge the Aussies and beat them in their own game. The attitude of not digesting any belittlement from the opposition was clear when he made Steve Waugh wait for Toss in two consecutive Tests. 

Besides the ‘T-shirt stunt’ at the iconic Lord’s showed that Sourav is fearless and the same mentality spread in the team. It was his aggression and the way that he led the team from the front that built a ‘true team’. 

Talents like Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, MS Dhoni and Ashish Nehra would have remained undiscovered

image-l7udq8hoGanguly led a group of youngsters and instilled the belief in them to play an aggressive brand of cricket (PC: Twitter)

Sourav was the man who eradicated selection politics from the Indian team. He was one skipper who kept in close contact with the scouts of the team, took regular updates from them, researched about new talents and backed them.  

The contributions of Sourav in each of the players mentioned above is immense. He promoted Sehwag from the middle order and made him an opener, a decision that changed Sehwag’s career. Sourav backed Harbhajan for the Australia series in 2001. In absence of the leading spinner Anil Kumble, Bhajji gave a series winning performance. He promoted MS Dhoni to number 3 against Pakistan in 2005 at Vizag and that changed MSD’s career. These are just some instances and there are many other stories of how Sourav Ganguly changed the course of Indian cricketing history. 

India would have remained a bully at home

image-l7udvhx3India started winning overseas under Ganguly's captaincy (PC: Twitter)

When Sourav became the skipper of the Indian team, they were considered a home bully. Although it was difficult to beat India on their soil, they used to be blown away by oppositions outside India. 

But Sourav changed this, under his leadership India won Tests in England, Australia, West Indies and Pakistan. India went to Pakistan and defeated them on their home soil in both ODIs and Tests under his leadership. These were some momentum shifts that took Indian cricket to new heights and would not have happened without Sourav taking up the reins. 

Rahul Dravid’s ODI career would have been over

Rahul Dravid was not considered suitable for ODI cricket at the time. There were demands that India could do with another batter in his place. But it was Sourav Ganguly who made Dravid keep the wickets in the limited overs and saved his career. 

Greg Chappell would never have coached India

 It may seem strange but it was Sourav Ganguly who insisted on bringing Greg Chappell as India’s coach after John Wright’s stint. Basically Sourav had been benefited by the advice of the man during the previous Australia tour and wanted his whole team to reap the same. 

But things did not fall in place and the two became each other’s nemesis. 

The 2011 batch would not have been ready

image-l7udy921Most of 2011 World Champion team were groomed and backed by Sourav Ganguly (PC: Twitter)

From the skipper of the 2011 World Champion team to the Player of the tournament, all were groomed and backed by Sourav Ganguly in the initial stages. The foundations of the historic win was already laid by Sourav about 11 years earlier. 

One might argue that Dravid nearly got the same team but was not able to do anything. That is where MSD’s leadership skills came into play, but there is no arguing the fact that it was Sourav Ganguly who laid the building blocks of that team.

If Sourav Ganguly never became the captain of Indian team, we as Indian fans would have missed a visionary, fearless and path breaking leader. 

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