Ganguly's Omission - An Objective View.
These past few days I have been looking into statistics of recent Indian performances to assess Ganguly's omission from the Indian team from an objective stand point.
Ganguly - as a player.
I looked at the record of the main Indian batsmen since the end of the World Cup 2003. The following is a list of the number of matches played and the average.
Yuvraj (60 matches and 31.70),
Sehwag (64 matches and 29.49),
Ganguly (50 matches and 30.50),
Kaif (40 matches and 40.51),
Tendulkar (38 matches and 45.60),
Dravid (62 matches and 41.33).
As is evident, despite the much publicized euphoria over Tendulkar's decline he is maintaining an impeccable average. Dravid and Kaif are doing particularly well too. Averages of Yuvraj, Sehwag and Ganguly are not that impressive.
The strike rates play an important role in ODIs and that is where Ganguly is definitely under-performing. Sehwag has a strike rate of 95 and Yuvraj of 85. Ganguly has only about 73 and this over a period of two years with an average of 30 is not impressive.
Sehwag is a very valuable player to the team for his fast starts to the innings. Though he is scoring only 30, he is scoring them at the top of the innings and very fast. So those 30 runs are very valuable for the team. As for Yuvraj, he had been dropped before and mostly he made his way back to the team. Most recently he has been dropped against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka and came back very strongly scoring centuries in the same tournament and again in Zimbabwe after that. Ganguly has been performing below par continuously for a while now.
So there is no question that Ganguly's batting performance (or lack of it) made a valid case for his omission.
Ganguly - as captain
One can also argue that the team was performing very poorly (in ODIs) after March 2003 and as captain he can partly be held responsible for that. In any case, the strongest plus point for Ganguly, namely his aggressive and successful captaincy, no longer remains valid.
India have played 60 ODIs since world cup final and prior to the current series against Sri Lanka. We won 27 and lost 30 (3 no results). While this does not seem particularly poor, a closer look tells us that most of the victories did not amount to much in the context of a series or a tournament.
We played 13 series, counting all series (2 teams) and tournaments (3 or more). We lost all the tournaments, though we reached finals of many (in most cases, the third team being more or less a walk-over). We won only two series (against Pak in Pak and against Bangladesh in Bangladesh). In fact, that Pakistan series in Pakistan was the single memorable series for us since the world cup.
So a persuasive case can be made for Ganguly's omission (at least as a captain) on the basis of the non-performance of the team.
Together, these two things make this decision anything but "unfair". I strongly believe that Ganguly is one of the greatest one-day players ever for us. He may still have a few more productive years for India. But for that he has to win his place back (just as Dravid did and to some extent as Kumble did too). Of course, this is happening fairly late in his career, but I believe he has a good five years of cricket left in him and that gives him ample time to work his way back into the team.