Support poured in from all quarters for Sourav Ganguly, who found no takers and remained unsold after day one of the IPL IV auctions in Bangalore on Saturday.
Former India wicketkeeper Saba Karim, who made his Test debut under Ganguly, suggested that no franchisee considered him not because of his performance, but for some off-the-field reasons. Former Indian cricket selector and Bengal's Ranji Trophy-winning skipper Sambaran Banerjee said Kolkata Knight Riders would lose its charm and identity minus Ganguly.
"It's strange. He was the top-scorer for Kolkata Knight Riders last season and I'm sure he did better than VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid (who have been bought by Kochi and Rajasthan respectively).
"If you consider ability wise, he should have definitely found a place. I think it was less of ability and more of what happened in the dressing room or the activity off-the-field. Maybe what happened in the first two seasons might have led to this. He was unnecessarily dragged into controversy," Karim said.
He was referring to his spat with former KKR coach John Buchanan under whom the team had a last place finish in IPL II as the former India captain was dethroned from captaincy in a controversy-ridden 2009 for the side principally-owned by Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan.
"If you see his performance last season, Ganguly led from the front and he transformed himself into a Twenty20 player. There has been no let off if you take his dedication and determination. "Ganguly gives lot of options to the side. He can lead, he can open, he can bat in the middle, he can bowl; he is a complete T20 player.
"It has been a big letdown for me so far. But the auction is not over yet. You never know a team still may take him tomorrow. I hope for the best," Karim said.
Asked whether Ganguly should call it quits, Karim said: "I would not like to see a legendary cricketer like him in this position. He is the best person to judge about his ability."
Echoing the same sentiments, Bengal's 1989-90 Ranji Trophy winning captain Banerjee said: "No one will watch KKR if they don't have Ganguly.
"They might have roped in big players like Gautam Gambhir, Yusuf Pathan, Jacques Kallis (among others), but without Ganguly, the team will lose its viewership and charm. It's really unfortunate to see him not being taken so far by any franchise. He is still good and very good enough for the Twenty20 format."