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Vengsarkar: firm believer in performances

Amarnath's comebacks may be the ideal case study for Ganguly, writes Makarand Waingankar

Destiny is irreversible. Yet ambitious people hope to reverse it. To a participant in sports, all that matters is top quality consistent performance. Sourav Ganguly and V.V.S. Laxman have realised that they need to keep performing.

By the end of the week, performances at the historical Chepauk would create options for the new national selection committee and perhaps Ganguly and Laxman could be inducted into the Rest Of India team for the Irani Trophy.

To Ganguly and Laxman, October will be vital as the new Chairman of the national selection committee, Dilip Vengsarkar, is a firm believer in performances against the best opposition and the Challenger series followed by the Irani and Duleep trophies will provide enough opportunities.

In his 16 years of playing international cricket, Vengsarkar went through enough ups and downs to know that only the bat can speak for destiny to follow. To him, nothing less than occupying the crease mattered. No amount of criticism demoralised him or praise flattered him.

Downfall

Ganguly, who during his heyday drifted a bit to doing things which later brought about his downfall, may be well advised to analyse Vengsarkar's career, a person with whom he shared a room on the tour of Australia more than a decade ago.

There are cricketers who play around with destiny by jumping from one state to another and, with superb off-the-field manipulations some have succeeded in entering the Indian dressing room. But that was the only success they could achieve as they exposed themselves on the field.

When Kiran More was in the national selection committee, none of the three Mumbai players in the Baroda team ever thought of shifting their loyalties to Mumbai. But the moment Vengsarkar took over, the Mumbai players, not only in the Baroda team but also from other teams are suddenly expressing their wish to serve Mumbai. Had Vengsarkar not accepted the job would these cricketers have thought of shifting to Mumbai is a debatable point.

To Ganguly's credit, this is one manipulation he has definitely not indulged in. He could have switched over to Orissa when Ranjib Biswal got into the national selection committee. Instead he looked for opportunities to be with the Bengal boys and performed creditably.

Being on trial

Visualise for a moment being on trial every time you go in the middle after scoring 15,000 runs in international cricket. If these runs take precedence over the thought process of the team management, then there is no better person than Vengsarkar who has scored 10,000 runs in international cricket to risk changing the thought process.

The frequency at which experiments are taking place in the Indian team, even the Australians must be baffled. The performance of Indians indicate that they are finding these experiments tough to adapt to, and they need to be given scope, not countering the BCCI's gag on going to the press, to vent their concerns within the team management.

In one of the Tests, Vengsarkar declined to open the innings before the Test began and was dropped. The selectors wanted to experiment by asking Vengsarkar to open and get both Sandeep Patil and Yashpal Sharma to bat in the middle order.

Self-belief

So strong was Vengsarkar's self-belief in his excellence as a middle-order batsman that for the next five seasons he was number 1 batsman in the World rankings playing in the middle order. It would be interesting to watch how Vengsarkar reacts to the experiments.

The Australians have pressed the accelerator and the game is getting increasingly fast. To all senior players, it is a challenge to either meet the requirements or bid goodbye. Compromising on the basic principles will take Indians nowhere.

By the first week of the next month, we will know the direction Indians are heading in. Ganguly, not picked for the Champions Trophy too, may know how close he is getting to the Indian dressing room.

Destiny is not known to desert a consistent performer for a long time. Gutsy Mohinder Amarnath's half a dozen comebacks may be the ideal case study for Ganguly.

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