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Rediff.com  » Cricket » When Sourav Ganguly's numbers do the talking...

When Sourav Ganguly's numbers do the talking...

July 08, 2018 10:06 IST

Abhirup Bhattacharaya reveals why Dada, who celebrates his 46th birthday on July 8, is one of India's most successful captains.

Sourav Ganguly

IMAGE: Standing on the balcony at Lords in London, a bare-chested Sourav Ganguly swirls his shirt after Team India defeated England in the Natwest Trophy final.
It remains one of the unforgettable images of Indian cricket. Photograph: PTI Photos

Numbers often tell a story.

It is the only way to distinguish fact from fiction.

Just like companies are driven by balance sheets and profit & loss statements, captains are rated based on their success rate.

Sourav's captaincy record speaks for itself.

If we consider Test cricket and compare his record with all Indian captains over the years, Sourav emerges as the third most successful captain in terms of win percentage and the second most successful captain in terms of win/loss ratio.

 

Sourav's win/loss ratio is even higher than that of M S Dhoni and still holds the record of highest number of wins overseas as a Test captain.

Virat Kohli though is expected to break the latter record in coming years.

 

Success rate of Indian Captains in Test cricket as on
February 10, 2018

PlayerPeriodMatWonLostTiedDrawW/L%W
V Kohli 2014-2018 35 21 5 0 9 4.2 60
M S Dhoni 2008-2014 60 27 18 0 15 1.5 45
S C Ganguly 2000-2005 49 21 13 0 15 1.61 42.85
R Dravid 2003-2007 25 8 6 0 11 1.33 32
M Azharuddin 1990-1999 47 14 14 0 19 1 29.78
B S Bedi 1976-1978 22 6 11 0 5 0.54 27.27
A L Wadekar 1971-1974 16 4 4 0 8 1 25
M A K Pataudi 1962-1975 40 9 19 0 12 0.47 22.5
A Kumble 2007-2008 14 3 5 0 6 0.6 21.42
D B Vengsarkar 1987-1989 10 2 5 0 3 0.4 20
S M Gavaskar 1976-1985 47 9 8 0 30 1.12 19.14
N J Contractor 1960-1962 12 2 2 0 8 1 16.66
S R Tendulkar 1996-2000 25 4 9 0 12 0.44 16
L Amarnath 1947-1952 15 2 6 0 7 0.33 13.33
N Kapil Dev 1983-1987 34 4 7 1 22 0.57 11.76
V S Hazare 1951-1953 14 1 5 0 8 0.2 7.14

Key: Mat=Matches, Won=Matches won, Lost=Matches lost, Tied=Matches tied, Draw=Matches drawn, W/L=Matches Won/Matches Lost, %W=Win percentage

If we consider his ODI record as captain, it is no less impressive.

Sourav comes across as the third most successful captain in terms of the number of matches won.

 

Success rate of Indian Captains in ODI cricket as on
February 10, 2018

PlayerPeriodMatWonLostTiedNRWin/Loss% Win
V Kohli 2013-2018 47 36 10 0 1 3.60 78.26
M S Dhoni 2007-2016 199 110 74 4 11 1.49 59.57
R Dravid 2000-2007 79 42 33 0 4 1.27 56
N Kapil Dev 1982-1987 74 39 33 0 2 1.18 54.16
M Azharuddin 1990-1999 174 90 76 2 6 1.18 54.16
S C Ganguly 1999-2005 146 76 65 0 5 1.17 53.9
S M Gavaskar 1980-1985 37 14 21 0 2 0.67 40
S R Tendulkar 1996-2000 73 23 43 1 6 0.53 35.07

Key: Mat=Matches, Won=Matches won, Lost=Matches lost, Tied=Matches tied, Draw=Matches drawn, W/L=Matches Won/Matches Lost, %W=Win percentage

In terms of contemporary Indian cricket post-2005, both M S Dhoni and Virat Kohli have been extremely successful in comparison to their predecessors in both Test and One-Day cricket.

However, while Dhoni and Kohli inherited a strong Indian team as captains, Sourav did not have any such luxury.

Some of the players who used to form the core of the Indian team were mired in the match-fixing controversy.

Sourav persisted with youngsters to fill in those slots as a result of which his winning percentage was low in the initial years.

Later, these cricketers played a significant role in ensuring the winning streak under Dhoni's captaincy.

Sourav's team was very similar to a start-up which was building a product and looking for core members; Dhoni's team was similar to such a setup receiving funding from investors; under Kohli, it is finally delivering returns for the investors.

In any organisation, while a team is being built, the management remains patient for initial years and believes in positive outcome in the later years.

The same is true in a sport like cricket.

Sourav Ganguly

IMAGE: Sourav Ganguly, then captain of the Kolkata Knight Riders, celebrates running out Gautam Gambhir of the Delhi Daredevils during IPL-3, Eden Gardens, Kolkata, April 7, 2010. Photograph: Daniel Berehulak-IPL 2010/IPL via Getty Images

If we compare Sourav's record with his counterparts globally, he has one of the finest records.

For the purpose of comparison, only those captains who have led the team in 100 or more ODI matches, or 40 or more Test matches have been considered.

In terms of win percentage, his record may look average, but the fact that he led a young side and still managed a win percentage exceeding 50 is commendable.

The more apt comparison will be if we look at the records of Imran Khan, Arjuna Ranatunga and Stephen Fleming along with Sourav, since each of them inherited a very young team and built it into a world-beating squad.

They were all reminiscent of time-tested CEOs.

Sourav has the highest winning percentage among these skippers, which speaks volumes of his leadership considering Test matches are the true test of their capabilities.

At the same time, it will be unfair to rate any of these skippers better than others as all of them were equally capable of leading their side under difficult situations and delivering results.

 

Sourav's Success Rate as compared to contemporary captains in Test cricket

PlayerSpanMatWonLostTiedDrawW/L%W%L
S C Ganguly (IND) 2000-2005 49 21 13 0 15 1.61 42.85 26.53
S P Fleming (NZ) 1997-2006 80 28 27 0 25 1.03 35 33.75
Imran Khan (Pak) 1982-1992 48 14 8 0 26 1.75 29.16 16.66
A Ranatunga (SL) 1989-1999 56 12 19 0 25 0.63 21.42 33.92

Key: Mat=Matches, Won=Matches won, Lost=Matches lost, Tied=Matches tied, Draw=Matches drawn, W/L=Matches won/Matches lost, NR=No Result, %W=Win percentage, %L=Loss percentage

The one area that Sourav lacked in, however, was his performance as a player who suffered during captaincy.

There is a stark difference in his performance as a player and a captain over the years.

From 2000 to 2005, his average varied significantly and reached a mere 24.9 in 2005 -- the same year when Sourav was dropped from the team.

Sourav's performance in Test cricket

YearMatInnsNO100s50s0sHSRunsAvg
1996 6 11 1 2 1 2 136 504 50.4
1997 11 15 0 3 3 1 173 848 56.53
1998 5 9 1 0 1 0 65 267 33.38
1999 10 19 3 2 7 1 125 813 50.81
2000 6 10 1 0 2 0 84 279 31
2001 13 23 3 0 1 2 98* 444 22.2
2002 16 25 2 2 5 2 136 945 41.09
2003 4 7 1 2 1 0 144 393 65.5
2004 8 9 0 0 4 0 88 408 45.33
2005 7 10 0 1 0 0 101 249 24.9
2006 4 6 1 0 1 1 51* 173 34.6
2007 10 19 1 3 4 0 239 1106 61.44
2008 13 25 3 1 5 4 102 783 35.59
13 Years 113 188 17 16 35 13 239 7212 42.18

Key: Mat=Matches, Inns=Innings, NO=Not outs, 100s=Hundreds, 50s=Fifties, HS=Highest Score, Runs=Runs scored, Avg=Average

His ODI performance over the years also looks similar to his Test record.

 

Sourav's performance in ODIs

YearMatInnsNO100s50sHSRunsAvgS/R
1992 1 1 0 0 0 3 3 3 23.08
1996 10 9 1 0 2 59 269 33.63 62.56
1997 38 35 3 1 10 113 1338 41.81 69.72
1998 36 35 3 4 7 124 1328 41.5 69.78
1999 41 41 3 4 10 183 1767 46.5 76
2000 32 32 4 7 6 144 1579 56.39 82.76
2001 23 22 0 2 6 127 813 36.95 71.07
2002 32 30 1 1 9 117* 1114 38.41 82.7
2003 22 22 4 3 2 112* 756 42 76.21
2004 31 30 1 0 7 90 947 32.66 69.89
2005 13 13 1 0 1 51 209 17.42 54.71
2007 32 30 2 0 12 98 1240 44.29 73.03
12 years 311 300 23 22 72 183 11363 41.02 73.71

Key: Mat=Matches, Inns=Innings, NO=Not outs, 100s=Hundreds, 50s=Fifties, HS=Highest Score, Runs=Runs scored, Avg=Average, S/R=Strike Rate

 

Sourav Ganguly

IMAGE: Ganguly executes a trademark shot during the second Test against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground, January 4, 2008. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty

Was captaincy affecting his performance?

Was Sourav unable to bear the burden of leading the side much like Sachin before him?

There are a couple of reasons for the decline in his average.

Sourav sacrificed his batting slots in both Test and ODI line-up in the interest of the team. This impacted his performance.

He was of the view that the focus should be on building a formidable team rather than on his performance.

After all, had performance been the only criteria for playing in the team, why had he been dropped in 2007, in spite of having over 1,000 runs in ODI and Test cricket?

Excerpted from Winning Like Sourav: Think And Succeed Like Ganguly by Abhirup Bhattacharaya, with the kind permission of the publishers, Rupa Publications.

Abhirup Bhattacharaya