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'Ganguly's ouster was wrong'

December 16, 2005 17:24 IST

As part of a series of weekly chats on cricket, Prem Panicker appeared on the rediff Chat at 1300 EDT/1000 PDT on December 15. Following is a transcript of the chat.

Earlier transcripts:
- 'On form pick Yuvi ahead of Sourav'
- 'Ganguly batting in top gear can win games'

Also see Prem's blog:

 Prem Panicker : Ooops, hey, to those Ganguly questions, could you please read the long post the link for which I posted just now?

Prem Panicker : Some glitch appears to have knocked out the earlier posts, so here it is again:

Prem Panicker : India won the second Test; but that was a given before the day even got under way. The real talking points of the day were two decisions by the national selection committee -- one good, one questionable.Giving Rahul Dravid the captain's armband for the Pakistan and England series is the good bit; he now knows he has the job for the span of two very tough assignments, and can prepare his team, and his strategies, without the uncertainty of captaincy.The questionable bit is the axing of Sourav Ganguly -- and the timing of it.Firstly, he did not in this Test do anything that merited his axing. His scores in the two innings of 40 and 39 were, numerically, below his own par; but against that, by no stretch can they be dubbed failures. That is point one.Two, he was pro-active in the field, forming part of the team discussions and even playing a role in discussions with individual bowlers.

Prem Panicker : Too often in the past we have over a beer argued that while the captain is in charge, senior players need to take more responsibility for keeping an eye on the game, pointing out things the captain might have missed, geeing up the bowlers and such. Had Sourav on his comeback sulked in the outfield, you could point to his attitude; in fact, however, he did the reverse and more than played his part on the field. That is point three.That the team is worried about Gautam Gambhir's form, and wants to explore a backup option in Wasim Jaffar, is understandable; it is difficult, too, to quarrel with the notion that Yuvraj Singh has long merited an extended run in the middle order.Granting all this, to axe Sourav after this one game, in this fashion, is merely compounding the original error of the previous selection committee, which did the math, realized it could not logically slot him into the mix, and created that mythical label, the 'all rounder', in order to squeeze him in.

Prem Panicker : That was -- for all that the Yashpal Sharmas of this world rail about the coach -- a ridiculous act; more humiliating for a proud cricketer than being dropped with reason. Had Sourav been omitted from the team against Lanka, there would have been an uproar, yes -- but there would also have been a clear option for the team and the selectors.If the players picked did not play their role, there would have been a natural case for bringing Sourav back; had all the players shown form and substance, the case for Sourav would then have to be made by the player himself, in the domestic arena -- as, say, VVS Laxman did earlier, when he was first dropped after his failures as an opener.But this? To pick him as an 'all rounder' was an error; to drop him now, the insult added to that injury. At the very least the team, having picked him anyway, could have given him the third Test, to further demonstrate his fitness and form, before taking a call on his future. How fit him into the ranks for anothe

Prem Panicker : How fit him into the ranks for another Test? Oh, any number of ways -- for instance, rest Sehwag, let him fully recover from an illness that, just a few days ago, saw him on a hospital bed being fed through tubes. Surely resting him for one more Test would not cripple Viru's morale? Nor significantly impact on India's chances at Motera?We can argue back and forth about averages -- to claim, or dispute, Sourav's inclusion. For me, though, his axing midway through the series (and please, spare the guff about being in the frame for Pakistan -- the team math is not going to change, so how are you going to fit him into that squad?) leaves as much of a bad taste in the mouth as his being corkscrewed into the team by selectors playing to a particular interest group did.

Prem Panicker : Sambit Bal on Cricinfo weighs in on the decision. The instant reaction to the decision to drop Saurav Ganguly from the Indian Test team is one of sadness, because, in all probability, this is the end of the road for him. You wished for a better farewell for a man who will be recognised, when emotions recede and a more detached assessment can be made, as India's ballsiest leader till his time. Stripped off captaincy, he did all that he could have done as a mere soldier in the Delhi Test. His batting wasn't spectacular but his 40 and 39 were vital contributions at delicate junctures of the match

Prem Panicker : And elsewhere, Sambit says: Ganguly's Test performances have been patchy at best, and as much as we might have willed him to go out on a high, it was only a matter of time for him. India are about to play two Test series against opponents who will test them to the limits and they need to give themselves the best chance of success. Yuvraj stands a better chance of playing through the series against Pakistan and England. He deserves to play without feeling insecure. And if the Indian team were to break away from Ganguly, it is better now than in the middle of those tours. Carrying Ganguly in the squad and not playing him in the XI would have been meaningless and created tensions that the team can do without.

janardhan : prem - gavaskar says sachin can hit 50 test centuries. I think this is unrealistic. What are your thought? Thanks.
Prem Panicker : Boss, who knows? Sachin could be out for injury or loss of form tomorrow; again, he could play on for another five years. All that this sort of statement is, really, is a sycophantic sound byte, why waste time on it?

JohnMP : Hi Prem,Don't you think Zaheer or Balaji should be in the squad in the place of Agarkar?
Prem Panicker : I dont' know what's with Zaheer, I notice he didnt turn out for the previous Ranji game for his home state. Not sure if that was due to injury, or some other reason. As for Agarkar, my feelings that he doesn't really merit a place in the side have been clear for a long time now :-)

Prem Panicker : That bit about picking him and not playing him is the line the selectors have used, too; in my mind, it raises a question: why not?Firstly, we seem, IMHO, to use the 'create tensions' argument without really examining it. Had Sourav been in the dressing room with the captaincy question still up in the air, there possibly could be grounds for that apprehension. But that question has been pretty much decided -- Dravid is clearly the leader.

Prem Panicker : I would think that given that, and if only for self-preservation (we might also want to consider that he is not so sorry a human being that he will disrupt the team if he cannot lead it), Sourav would, rather than be a catalyst for tension, walk the extra mile to avoid it. After all, as a regular member of the side without any sheltering umbrella, his concern I would think would be to cement his place, not indulge in behavior that could get him axed.

Varun : Prem isn't it disgraceful that the way the senior players like Rahul & Sachin have been behaving in a spineless manner when it comes to stand besides Sourav
Prem Panicker : Do we know they didn't? I remember everyone beating up on Greg Chappell for being anti sourav -- and then one report said he had repeatedly asked the selectors not to humiliate Sourav by tagging him an all rounder. Point is, we none of us know what was said by whome in the dressing room and the selection committee; without knowing, not sure I want to talk of whether it is disgraceful or otherwise

Prem Panicker : So whence came this 11th Commandment: Thou shalt play if thou dost pick?To pick him in the team indicates you have him on the radar; the fact that he may not make a particular playing composition merely indicates the team management's judgment that he is not the best horse for that particular course. Where is the negative connotation in that? For instance, a game might come where the conditions are overcast and the track and atmospherics hugely conducive to swing and seam. In such a case, wouldn't there be merit in picking Sourav the 'all rounder'? You would then need to drop one of the others -- maybe Laxman, maybe Yuvraj, or Gambhir, whoever. Where lies the harm? Cricket decisions need to be pragmatic -- not emotional.

joy : I completely agree. Sourav Ganguly should not have been chosen to be part of this test squad in the first place. However this was perhaps the worst time to drop him after his average/or above average performance in the Delhi test. Prem are you aware of anyone else out there who could replace Gambhir other than Jaffer(in the openers slot)?
Prem Panicker : Akash Chopra, even more than Wasim Jaffar. Jaffar has always made runs in the domestic level, but IMHO, he is just that touch below the international class, not quite in agreement with picking him again


ranjith : My theory is that Ganguly's selection for the 1st 2 tests was simply a political ploy to cajole the Calcuttans. You can't deny that now. Selectors couldn't wait to throw him out. `
Prem Panicker : That being the case, why drop him now? If picking him then was to cajole Calcutta, dropping him now would obviously only inflame them further -- so why? Isn't that too simplistic, really?>

bongboy : Hi Prem, Can you tell me how these selectors are selected. What is Kiran More's claim to fame. Most selectors seem to be a bunch of also rans who continue to affect the institution with their second rung decision-making capabilities
Prem Panicker : Why Kiran More? Here is a post I just a while ago did: might want to check it out. My question is, why are we questioning the selection committee's credentials only now? When have we had a fullly qualified panel anyway?

kanika : I think u r extremely biased. According to u it was time for sourav to leave. Was it okay for laxman to stay who only has one run more than sourav in 2 series. Is it okay for agarkar to stay when zaheer and balaji are sitting idle.
Prem Panicker : And where did I say it was okay for Sourav to leave? I just posted a long message, saying what I think -- so why put words in my mouth? Bias like beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder -- in this case, you.

roy : Hi Prem:How do you think Agarkar is hanging on in the team. Is it because he is the favourite of Dravid and Sachin or is it due to some abhijit kale like shady dealing is going on with the selectors? In any case I feel it is high time Zaheer is brought back into the team.
Prem Panicker : Agarkar was in the team when Ganguly led it too, so what has Dravid and Sachin got to do with it? AS I pointed out earlier, I am somewhat puzzled by Zaheer -- donno why he is not in the side, dont know why he didnt play Ranji. Earlier, we were saying the same thing about Nehra -- now it turns out the guy is injured and off to Aus for treatment.

JAK : Dont you think the media is giving so much hype on ganguly issue?
Prem Panicker : Why only the media, boss? Scroll through these questions, almost every second one is on the one subject -- and that was the case last time too.

Criclover : HI Prem, Do you think Rahul Dravid is sincere and is not silent assisin in exclusion episode?
Prem Panicker : I think he is, yes.

janardhan : prem. can you give us any info. on ambati rayudu. He was hailed as the next big batting talent, but he doesnt seem to be ready to graduate to the big stage. Thanks
Prem Panicker : He apparently had problems with his home association and has just shifted base -- I dont know whether those problems impacted on his play, be interesting to see how he does now. Hopefully he comes good -- he has the potential to be an asset, if he can get his form and mind back

sid : do you think our one day team is now good enough to do well outside of the subcontinent?
Prem Panicker : We've done fairly well outside the subcontinent, even earlier, no? I think the more apt question is, is this team ready to be consistent everywhere? I'd think we are not there yet, but seem to be moving in that direction.

Anand : Dear Sir, It is unfair to sack Ganguly in this manner and Is this the way we Indians treat a person who gave so much to Indian Cricket? Are you feeling emotional about this or Are you in the same boat as Mr. More?
Prem Panicker : Dear sir, please read what I posted right at the start of this chat.

rao : Hi, Prem, THe aus-sa is turing out to be a sledging super bowl, as it has always been. SA has lost most of the battles. does it make sense for them to take on the aussie sledging?
Prem Panicker : *LOL* Yeah, I noticed. I wonder how much of it is a case of whistling in the dark to show you are not scared?

Raghav : My take on the whole Sourav saga is that he will be in the squad for the Pakistan series...It is just that the selectors have decided to try out Jaffer for the final test..and considering Yuvraj's good form it is not fair to drop him either....what do u think??
Prem Panicker : I too suspect he will be picked for Pak -- I remember in an earlier chat, and on my blog, suggesting that a good time to evaluate his position in the side would be after Pak, and probably England, is over and done with

Sridhar : Prem,For the third test, how about dropping Gambhir and picking up Kaif and send Viru and Dravid or Kaif as his partner.I know picking Jaffer in the team was just to fill in a slot and he will not be in the 11. He is good only at the domestic cricket. Your thoughts please..
Prem Panicker : That he is good only at the domestic level matches my thoughts -- but if you've picked him, you only have two real options. (1) Continue your show of faith in Gambhir or (2) Pick Jaffer in the playing eleven. If you don't play him, then bringing him into the Test side for one game is pointless; you certainly haven't found out if he is good enough to be a back up option for Gambhir

SharadPawar : Why is it that there are replacements being found for every spot except for 1 - that of Kumble.The giant that he has been, I fear how India will manage to take 20 wickets on Indian pitches once he retires..Are we just plain ignoring the fear or is there really no one on the horizon?
Prem Panicker : I know. The spinning option remains the puzzle the selectors haven't managed to crack. I notice Piyush Chawla being talked up a lot in recent times, unfortunately, haven't seen him bowl so don't ahve a take on him; wonder if you guys have watched him, and can comment on whether he has the potential.

Prasad : Curious... If SG was the first choice for middleorder slot (as in Chennai).. and Yuvi the second choice ( as in Delhi when VS had to be substituted for) .. then ...Kaif was obviously the third choice and it is Kaif who should have been made to sit out in AHmedabad. So, if Yuvi goes down due to injury or illness on the day of the Test Match, then we do not have SG as cover and we have to substitute Yuvi with Kaif ..who was ourTHIRD choice for the Middle order to begin with. Where's the logic?
Prem Panicker : Right, that is the problem. The decision re Sourav had to be made either before the Sri Lanka series, or after Pak and maybe England. Making it on the basis of one Test with no valid reason was idiocy at its best

Dunce : What journalistic qualification do you posses ? I am curious since you seem to pass judgements and take stances . Are you a reporter or blogger with mass appeal?
Prem Panicker : I have been a journalist for 16 years now, 10 of them with Rediff. What qualifications did you think I had, when you logged in ehre to find out what I had to say, boss?

Hiten : Prem, Which of the following fast bowlers should be picked for the tour of Pakistan assuming they all are physically fitAgarkarPathanNehraZahir khanBalajiRP singhJP yadavRakesh patelHarvinder singh
Prem Panicker : Wow. Trouble is with that assumption of full physical fitness -- and that includes a more or less surety that a bowler wont pull up after 10 overs. That being the case, I'd pick Zaheer, Pathan, Balaji (Nehra I'd probably avoid, partly because of his frequent breakdowns, partly because I already ahve two frontline left arm seamers). I would think they would serve as my frontliners -- I would pick JP for the one dayers, in Tests I dont have the luxury of having a third or fourth seamer of the containing variety.

janardhan : prem. sorry for posting my question again but there is no one who can give me an update on Rayudu's career!! can you give us any info. on ambati rayudu? He was hailed as the next big batting talent, but he doesnt seem to be ready to graduate to the big stage. Thanks
Prem Panicker : Answered this already, chief

Ramakrishnan : Two questions.1) Ganguly stayed in the team for the last three years purely on politics and not on merit.So is this not a case of reaping what you sowed? 2)What does it say about the players like Sachin who did not even say good bye to him?
Prem Panicker : 1. I'd think it is damned difficult to stay in a side for three whole years purely on political grounds. Yes he has had form slumps, but he has also done some good work during that period, so that is a bit iffy. 2. I am not privy to conversations Sachin may have had with Sourav; how do you know he didn't?

Chirag : About the supersub issue, I think it is universally agreed that it does help the team that wins the toss. We have the toss not just to start the game, but also to give one team the advantage implementing their plans for the game. In current one-day cricket, the toss was irrelevant before the supersub was implemented. At least this way, the importance of the toss is retained. Any thoughts?
Prem Panicker : When this rule was first announced, I remember my take was, why not make a slight change, and say the teams could announce supersubs AFTER the toss? That way, the undue advantage to the team winning the toss is taken out of the equation. As it stands, teams gamble Las Vegas style

curiousone : Prem,Do you think any self respecting country will tolerate the national teal coach giving finger to the fans who were holding a peaceful demonstration? Opinions can be different, but what gives Mr.Chapell to insult the fans? And, he has gone unaccounted. Every media has forgotten that incident. Why are we so shameless?
Prem Panicker : Good question. He should have been held accountable for that. But while on the subject, who will hold fans accountable for holding the funeral rites of a person still living? To rephrase your question, do you suppose any self respecting person would take that kind of thing? Which is not to say two wrongs make a right -- I think no one, not the selectors, not the coach, not us fans, have exactly covered ourselves in glory in recent times.

ranjith : Let me change the subject a little. Do you think 20-20 is the future of popular Cricket? Say in 30 years, do you envision 3 varieties of the sport? Will any form die out?
Prem Panicker : I'd think it will get increasingly harder to ignore 20-20, simply because its appeal is catching on. In that sense, the current situation seems a lot akin to how we looked at ODIs -- with initial reluctance, then forced compliance, finally whole hearted acceptance. Donno about forms dying out, Ranjit, but if you add another variety into the mix, I'd think the schedules will get even more cramped, and in such a situation, it is likely Test cricket will suffer ebven more

sraidas : prem why are you wasting time like it true that u are jobless and can do anything to get a piece of bread?
Prem Panicker : Oh lovely -- do you normally waste YOUR time chatting up jobless people?

achandra : Also, what was our team after 1982 world cup?? We were only going down. Saurav is the one who brought discipline in the team and took Indian team to the place where it is now. How come selectors forget all that easily. In 1990's when Saurav took over, India was going down. He was the one who fought for his team members all the time. He was the one who asked Martin Crowe and Steve Waugh to shut up when those guys were trying to play mind games with Indian team. How can you forget such a great player and man
Prem Panicker : Who said he is forgotten? If you want more examples, he is also the guy who with that Brisbane hundred began taking on the Aussies in the tour we came back from with honors even. But the past goes just so far, boss...

gurus : Honestly the only option Ganguly had was to open with Sehwag if he was to be in the team. I wonder if the selectors wanted to even consider that
Prem Panicker : That is what I wish had been done, actually.

Raghu-N : Prem, please answer my question about Ganguly playing for BANGLADESH for their good and for the love of the game.
Prem Panicker : is that a question?

Sapta : Hi Prem, don't you think Indian selectors are bunch of jokers? How come they expel Ganguly? I believe we are giving lot of weitage to foreign coach. Dravid might also forget that Ganguly saved him to stay in one day cricket. I agree that he was removed from one day cricket due to poor form but no reason from test cricket. Infact they can keep him as a captain in test cricket.
Prem Panicker : Is the expulsion of GAnguly the only joke? Why was never a single question raised say when Kumble was dropped from the ODI squad -- this, despite his match winning record at home, and his form which he has just rubbed in?

Ramakrishnan : Steve Waugh was axed from the one day side and was told to he was not wanted for tests a few years later but no blood spilled on the ground. How does this treatment compares with what we do? Are aussies more pro in axing people? Should we not learn how to say no?
Prem Panicker : Absolutely. We should be able to handle that with dignity and grace. If such decisions have to be made, they need to be communicated, along with the valid reasons, to the player concerned, not announced to the media before the player knows. But that is a lesson we never have learnt

ravuri : Please answer to this. Does the board have a rotation policy? If so how come Gujarat has 3 matches in the same series, every series there is a match in mohali and baroda. why? and, How Vizag can be ripped of a match and ... all these young players will not be of any help abroad u need experienced players like Ganguly
Prem Panicker : The board has a rotation policy when it suits them. I remember reading recently that the new board now intends to adhere to it strictly. About the other -- weren't the likes of Dravid and Ganguly young, when they went to England in 1996 and did well? What if at that time, they hadn't been given any chances because "we need senior players"?

rich : Hi Prem, do you think selectors/chappell could not risk playing ganguly for one more match .. as it looked probable that he would get a century soon
Prem Panicker : I dont have much skill in reading tea leaves, chief -- cant say much about 'his looking like scoring a century'. I seem to remember he would have ended up with less than he did in fact, if Sangakaarra hadn't fluffed the simplest stumping. Neither the looking good for runs nor the let off really matters, end of the day it is what is on the board that counts

Sudheer : I think SG is a better fit in the one day format as a Super sub than test cricket. What is your take ?
Prem Panicker : He would be an interesting choice, especially if he perks up in the fielding dept. One noticeable aspect of our play in the home season in ODIs was the fielding -- both SL and SA found it very difficult to get runs. Assume he can keep those standards up, he would be a good supersub because he has a role to play with bat and ball, sure

Gau : Prem, do you think GCs finger-raising is something so big to make a hue and cry about ?? isnt it just an unfortunate but trivial incident ?
Prem Panicker : It is an unfortunate incident, yes. But then, when our emotions are hurt -- and there is a huge body of fans who love Sourav and who feel hurt just now -- then everything takes on that coloration. Not suggesting flipping the finger as a public official is the right thing to do, but I think it is a bit obessessive for it to dominate every other conversation

hrsmanian : Hi Prem, I am a regular visitor to you blog. Just wanted to know about whats your opinion on Indian openers. Why haven't we found a good one after say Gavsakar
Prem Panicker : Maybe because we don't pick the right guys to start with -- in the last ten years, we have wasted time on players who shouldnt even have been considered -- and then we chop and change for no visible reason. For instance, I thought Akash Chopra had what it took -- but a couple of failures, and bang, out he goes. Now it is happening to Gambir.

DEWW1 : Prem, I have long since been a fan of yours, and certainly don't appreciate when people ask for your "credentials"But don;t you think arrogantly snubbing them the way you do, just puts you down to their level?
Prem Panicker : I have done this chat three times now this stint, and each time, it has been the same question in variations -- obviously meant as a 'sledge'. So I point out that I have 16 years as a journalist, which answers the question. And in my turn, I wonder why, if the credentials were unclear, you log into a chat -- legit question I thought? Where lies the arrogance? Sledging is fine, chief, but surely the other bloke has the right to riposte?

sraidas : prem what do u think about tendulkars hint that he will like to take over the captainship of india.
Prem Panicker : When did Tendulakr say any such thing? Must have missed it. I would be terribly surprised if he did, though -- he has for a long time been very very clear he doesnt want the job back

lucky3 : do you think Sehawag should be dropped ? He hasn't been playing all that well for sometime. May be a break will do him good
Prem Panicker : He has had a bit of a slump in ODIs. In Tests, he is to the best of my memory not doing badly enough to warrant the question

Ramakrishnan : Wadekar has warned Sachin to be careful. Is that a jibe or is that a possibility in the future?
Prem Panicker : Could be a jibe, read in context. BUt no harm there -- I'd think it is time all players were told that performance alone counts. Should ahve always been that way anyway.

sdfsdf : Only One Question India Which has such a Rich Cricekting History and have Produced the Best Palyers Ever Dont have 1 Ex Player who can coach the team. Why do we need a foreigner. Example Vensarker,Kapil,Sunny,Ganguly,Azhar etc and mamy more have better records than chappel or Chappal.Greg doesnt even have a world record I guess...
Prem Panicker : Kapil has coached India -- with disastrous results. Azhar? You mean the guy who was pushed out of Indian cricket because the CBI charges him with match fixing? Why do we look, anyway, at this whole thing as an Indian versus foreign thing? Surely the objective should be to pick a qualified coach, and coaching qualifications are not really based on how many world records or whatever you have. Trouble is, most of our senior players don't take the trouble to take the coach's courses, do the exams, get the qualifications.

avinash : Do you think Prem that it is right to replace an "all rounder" with an opening batsman?
Prem Panicker : Not at all. In fact, I don't even think it is right to dub Ganguly an all rounder in the first place

ashh : hi dont exclude agarkar...u will be proved wrong....i know u wont answer it..
Prem Panicker : Answer which, chief? Oh you mean one of these days Agarkar will get a few wickets, after about 7, 8 matches without? Sure he will, and that proves me wrong, so be it. :-)

Sapta : Agree that there was injstice to Kumble also. But, Kumble lost form in one day matches when he was dropped but can be given chance again. That doesn't mean that they have to do this for every body. Also, there is one difference between Ganguly and Kumble. Ganguly also served as a best captain for India.
Prem Panicker : Lost form when? For a long time now, he is invariably on the bench more times than not, with Bajji playing a lot of teh games as sole spinner. And yes, Ganguly has served as a great captain; by which token, Kumble has won more matches than anyone including SRT.

subhash : Hi,The kind of lapse of COLLECTIVE performance of players after being in full flow indicate there is still hanky-panky (rigging) going on in the Indian team? As a journalist what are your observations?
Prem Panicker : I don't know, really. My gut feel is there isn't.

nilcritz : what do you think about GANGULY RETIRE NOW. This is the best time for him. He has all the public sympathy and will be remembered for a longer time.
Prem Panicker : CAnt speak for what he should do. What I hope he does is find the form he has misplaced, make tons of runs, and let the runs make his case for him. I remember VVS Laxman, when dropped after his failures as an opener, being asked what he wanted to do and he said, "Go back to domestic and score double and triple hundreds and see how the selectors ignore me then". He did just that, would love to see SG borrow that example

Parag : In your book, what kind of slump is acceptable. I mean, I am a national selector, how long do I let an out-of-form player disadvantage the national team (regardless of the player, or his past performance). 5 games, 2 series, etc.?
Prem Panicker : I donno there is a mathematical formula to that. This would be where they put the slide rule aside, and go by the imponderables -- past contributions and record certainly, but more, an informed take on whether the playing style, the standard, has slipped from that past, sufficiently to cause alarm. For instance, you could make a scratchy century and that proves nothing; you could make a superb 30 and get out to one of those unplayable deliveries, and that is no black mark. I think the job of a selector is to look at socres yes, but also to look beyond. Since Steve Waugh came up in this forum today, that is a good example -- waugh was averaging in the 37, 38 range and was a great captain; they merely said, you are doing 38s for us, but there are blokes out there can do 40 plus, so, sorry, but you must go. Or Healy for instance.

ravuri : prem, why is our board always so unorganised when compared to others, others prepare the itinaries months and years before but we dont finalise until they are on our neck trying to squeeze tournys in between another?
Prem Panicker : Because meticulous working is not our forte. What do you expect when you have 'honorary' people doing a job they are not accountable to anyone for?

subburamakrishnan : Prem why is that that ONLY argument that anyone can make for SG is the emotional one? If he could open the innings, there would be no question now! How long will be pander to the blue eyed boys?
Prem Panicker : I dont discount the emotional aspect entirely. In the sense, we are about emotion -- else, given how badly the team was doing in the mid nineties for instance, we woiuld all have switched to other sports. That said though, I agree that increasingly, the debate is meandering way off practical matters and staying in the realm of parochial feelings and emotions, and that is a bad way to go

Shriman : Hi Prem, were you surprised by Wasim Akram's remark that Cricket's run by the so-called 'Ghoras' ? Given the kind of over-the-top allegations he keeps making, it seems that Mr.Akram's practising to be a shock jock on some Radio or TV station. I believe he says these things to stay in the media spotlight. Your thoughts ?
Prem Panicker : The statement is a bit over the top certainly, but I do believe Akram is not the first to raise the point that invariably, the players from the sub continent are held to standards -- in chucking, excessive appealing, whatever -- that are not as evenly enforced for the 'white' couuntries. That is the thing with justice -- it cant just be done, it also needs to be seen to be done

vinesh : Hi Prem, Wadekar's comments about 'Sachin also having to be careful' seem stupid at best. Does Wadekar feel that Sachin should be GRANTED a place as long as he wants one? In my eyes, this comment, does not reflect well on his cricketing acumen
Prem Panicker : No, it was a rather silly, emotional comment.

sp : Prem, lets assume that you are a selector, coach and a captain for the day. Lets pick your paying 11 (you are free to pick anyone from domestic cricket as well). I am sure that won't be an easy task but that will give better explain your thoughts on current Indian cricket affairs.
Prem Panicker : For Tests? Played where and against who? If I were selector, coach and captain, I don't go picking teams in a vacuum -- the team I pick would depend on the arena and conditions applying there, on the nature of the opposition and what the team needs to be able to counter it.

cooldude1 : Don't you think Ganguly should at least have been given the option to open (instead of Gambhir) and see how well he performs in test matches before dumping him?
Prem Panicker : Yes. AS was answered before :-)

narayangl : What is your take on sreeshanth. Will he blossom into a good fast bowler?
Prem Panicker : He has the heart and a lot of the basics; based on what I saw, though, I thought he didn't have enough of variations to be a threat just now -- against which, the lad is yuoung, if he has the nous, he can develop

Batty : Why do u want to compare kumble and Ganguly ? Every time somebody speak bt gangulys exclusion, then u will speak abt Kumble being ignored. Kumble has been given more than one year of chances in one dayers. Even when he was brough for the srilank trip, he didnt perform well. I am not against Kumble. But comparing the record of Ganguly and Kumble is not worth, in one dayers. Ganguly has proved and he can at the least be used a bowlin option in oned dayers though batting is main..although the fileding remains the ames
Prem Panicker : It is a simple enough question -- why is fuss being generated to this degree for only one player?

hkl : Prem what is your take on the the phenomenon that Calcutta stopped watching cricket or least showed less interest ever since Ganguly was ousted from the captaincy?.Just wanted your opnion on this rather sad phenomenon, has this been observed elsewhere in India when a native son of the soil was no more the captain?Thanks keep up the good work.
Prem Panicker : I remember making the point on blog, some time back, that the worst thing to happen in recent times is this increasing fragmentation of the cricket-watching public. And it is equally unfortunate whether this feeling manifests in people from Kolkatta switching off or booing DRavid, or people from Delhi or Bangalore booing Sourav. I mean, if all that cricket means to you is to watch your home boys in action, why then don't the same fans turn out for domestic matches?

roshanj : why are we reluctant to play Bangladesh. It would be a good chance to blood players like Venugopal Rao and Raina and also perhaps give a chace to venues like Dharmasala and Assam to host international matches.
Prem Panicker : oof, i thought we played them way too much already. more to the point, the schedule looks cramped enough as is, without adding on a tour that will do nothing other than let some batsmen bloat their averages

vinesh : Hi Prem, Have you researched Chappell's previous coaching tenures? It has been mentioned that the results werent great. But is there something that he showed that went beyond results?
Prem Panicker : No, because I dont have the means to. His stint in Aus domestic appears to be a mixed bag, some have said he was good, others dissed him. I think, though, that the selection of the man was made by the BCCI committee on the basis of their own requirement: They asked each applicant to come up with a vision, and at the end of the exercise they said they picked the guy with the best vision for Indian cricket. That document is with the BCCI -- and I guess that is what tells you why he was picked.

subburamakrishnan : Prem, I think More found himself between a rock and a hard place..I mean...he was the chair of the previous comm too...Which is why he has egg on his face now! Do you agree?
Prem Panicker : Of course. I think there was a time when the selectors could ahve bitten the bullet, had they been of that mind, and handled the issue ofSourav. Instead, they kept looking for temporary solutions -- till the elections, till the eden gardens odi, till the first test, and so on... and now they are paying for the procrastination

ak018 : Prem, What happened to your blog? Don't see link for it anymore
Prem Panicker : It is still alive, boss.

8723bb : Under John Wright's coaching India was a united team and we won man matches and nobody called it team Wright. Now all of a sudden under Chappell this is team Chappel. It does smell something else than what Chappel wants us to belive like only improvement of India's cricket is in his mind. What's your take on that?
Prem Panicker : Under John Wright -- and I have admired that man, still do -- we also slid from number two to number 7 in ODIs; we lost even at home in Tests to wards the latter part of his tenure. But suddenly, all that has become the golden era? Not dissing Wright here, but his tenure has seen both -- the team united and doing well, and disunted and doing badly. As to the Chappell bit, what would he possibly be after? His appointment is for till the WC, it is not like he is in a position to take over the BCCI and run its money chest or something. We keep saying in dire tones oooo, this guy, what is he up to. So what in fact could he be up to anyways?

hiten_mehta : Prem, should we have 2nd wicketkeeper in the squad for pakistan tour?
Prem Panicker : Dont know if we need one -- it is close enough to fly down a replacement overnight if we need to, so why waste a slot would be my way of looking at it

ramanG : I think the Indian team management has always been reluctant of picking an upcoming player over an experienced out of form player in the playing 11. Although I think that the decision to drop Saurav from the squad is harsh, this has made it easier for the management to give a chance to players like Yuvraj and Kaif. Ideally saurav shud still have been in the team but sitting on the bench putting pressure on the middle order batsmen to perform. We don't want to do the same with yuvraj and kaif as we did with Srinath, do we? Your comments..?
Prem Panicker : Exactly my thoughts -- I dont agree with this theory that if you pick Sourav you have to play him. He needed to be in the squad, and like Kaif and Yuvraj and the others, whether he makes the playing cut or no needed to depend on team requirements and balance on the particular day against the particular opponent

dev : Prem, I think Ganguly was not dropped because of cricketing reasons. Cause Ganguly's exclusion defies cricketing logic.I think the spat with Chapel is the major reason of his exclusion. Cause in the ODI's they said, they won;t take Ganguly to disturb the winning combination. Yet in tests, they do the exact same thing, by not only dropping a member from the winning combination, but also a performer in that win!
Prem Panicker : In all this, what amuses me most is the demonising of one man. More to the point, we have built him up into some kind of omnipotent being who can do whatever he wants -- which is far from being the case, really.

Shank : Prem, on general cricketing matters, do you think cricket should adopt challenges similar to NFL ? A team can have two challenges, for example, and if they lose it, they get docked one over or so.Just a thought. This will atleast give the team a chance to challenge unfair or wrong decisions. I also feel the third umpire should have the authority to overrule on field decisions if there is proper evidence. There are far too many incompetent umpires in the game who are giving out wrong decisions. What do you think ?
Prem Panicker : I remember this proposal being floated off and on; it's certainly interesting -- but I haven't spent enough time thinking that one through to have any kind of opinion, frankly.

aroy : I like your reviews. Do you think, however, playing serious cricket to a certain level gives you a different perspective as a journalist vs. someone who is just a journalist but never played serious cricket? How does one get such a perspective which only comes from hands on experience? Again, this is not a jibe or sledging. It is an honest question from someone who likes, but not necessarily 100% agrees with, your reviews / columns.
Prem Panicker : I have often faced this question. My answer invariably is this: I am not qualified to PLAY cricket alongside the likes of Sourav and such. My qualifications are in a different field -- journalism. During my tenure, I've covered politics, elections, people, movies, cricket... If we had the rule that only people who have done it can write it, then the only persons capable of writing about government policy would be former prime ministers. A journalist's job is to process information -- in this case, the scores, the less quanitifiable but equally valid information such as a take on how each guy played -- and build it all into a review. And it is put out there before the public with one implicit codicil: It IS, in the end, one guy's point of view, not the sermon on the mount. As a newspaper reader, I try to read as mucha s I can, I dont necessarily buy entirely itno all I read, though. It is all information -- for me to use to make up my own mind. And that is how it works when I write too

xy : PRem, When you talk about sliding from 2 to 7 in ODI, what timeframe are you talking about? Is it from the beginning of JW to the end of JW or some arbitrary timeframe?
Prem Panicker : No. From the WC to the end of JW's tenure

Hal : Prem..I have noticed that you don't gel well with Ganguly, for past few years ? did u have meet him actually anytime ?
Prem Panicker : Yes I have. Several times. And always enjoyed the experience

Gau : Prem what does one have to do to be a successful cricket writer/blogger ?
Prem Panicker : :-) Write. Whether it gets successful or no doesnt depend on you anyways, does it? So why worry?

Hal : Prem ..May I know whats your regular job, if you have any ?
Prem Panicker : I have, thanks. Editor, India Abroad

gangfan : Is the verbal sledgings going on between AUS and SA, good for the game? What is your opinion
Prem Panicker : I am not aware that either side has said anything so alarming, to justify all this talk and statements and such. Such comments, about the rival team, ahead of the start of a series, have become the norm pretty much -- i frankly would have thought the ICC has more serious problems to worry about, than meddle in what is harmless jibing

Prem Panicker : It is my honest opinion that he never did any such thing; that was the silliest story I ever heard.

AKT : Do you think Ganguly would have been still playing for India had he not made a comment about Chappel during the series with Zimbabwe??
Prem Panicker : I think over time, Ganguly's position as captain and as player would pretty much have been dictated by his own form. It is now being forgotten that his appointment as captain to Zimbabwe was touch and go; reports at the time said the selection committee was divided on the issue, and that there was a measure of BCCI involvement as well. All of this was before the spat with Chappell -- which to me indicates that his position was already under review.

hiten_mehta : Prem, Shoaib akhtar suggested 2 bouncers per over in ODI what do you think about that ?
Prem Panicker : It's an interesting suggestion -- actually, I think batsmen are being pampered way too much, and in a sense that is taking the fun out of the game. I'm for even contests between bat and ball.

rv : Now the indian team/management is switching combinations i mean the batting order and also the team very often. does this create some kind of insecurity in the team
Prem Panicker : No, why? AS long as the players know what they are doing and why they are doing it, where would there be insecurity? For instance, Pathan clearly knew that his promotion to open was not out of a desperate let's find someone mood, but specifically -- given it was sure Murali would be on early -- to negate him by going for strokeplay and not letting the offie settle. Given that clarity, there is no reason IP or anyone else would feel insecure, really

dev : Prem, what should Sourav have to do to come back in the team? When he was first ousted from the ODI and from the ODI captaincy, 1) He did not hesitate captaining the talented East Zone side in Duleep Trophy and then the Bengal side, in Ranji Trophy 2) According to East Zone and Bengal coach, he did hard training, and was fit as ever 3) With the ball, he took important wickets 4) With the bat, he scored 2 important centuries in 3 games. 5) While in team india, he did not hesitate to offer tips to Rahul and even helped in field settings 6) He made decent contributions in 2 out of 3 innings he played. What more can an individual do. PREM, chief, YOUR SUGGESTIONS. please!!
Prem Panicker : More of the same? Is why I mentioned the VVS example of earlier -- if you pile up runs, over a period of time, no one can ignore you. NOt for ever.

SauravGanguly : Do you actually type your answers into keybord or someone does it for you?
Prem Panicker : I type.

Binay : After Pawar came in the picture. 3 Selecters immediately lost their jobs. Selectors are handpicked without the required knowledge (read vision), and cricketing skills, At best More knows a little but rest...too much politics on Indian Cricket filled with telents but shame on GC, Selectors and BCCI...I don't see good future of Indian Cricket if there are this much of discontent...The Seletors, BCCI, Captain and Coach should have a very transparent system based on performance only..and that too present performance and not too much concerned with looking into future...
Prem Panicker : have lost their places before, too. No one at the time thought fit to ask all these questions, though.

Swadeshi : Prem, one last question... you have answered none of mine. Anyways, Now that you are in NY for the most part... How are you able to get info (other than online reading) about games, players interviews etc.. Does rediff get some special info to you? Or do you get all Indian newspapers in NY everyday?
Prem Panicker : I watch cricket. I read. I ahve friends among players and administrators and even journalists I am still in touch with Like any other journalistic job, you get information from all sorts of sources, no mysteries there. As to the newspapers, no, I read them on the net and once a week, I get a package of the weekend editions.


DEWW1 : c'mon prem, answer -- ganguly's exclusion: right or wrong? No platitudes please, just one word
Prem Panicker : wrong.

dev : Prem, I thought you promised us 2 hours to make up for the quick leaving, last week:(??
Prem Panicker : Logged in at 12.45 (and found a heap of questions already), it is now 2.20 -- and work has in the meantime piled up. Will do additional time next week as well