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Shastri-Ganguly clash is not about two individuals, it's about two eras

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The unwanted controversy which occurred after former Indian cricket captain Ravi Shastri losing out to another former captain Anil Kumble in grabbing the national coach's job hints at a major conclusion. That is: the immediate seniors of Indian cricket have a lasting impact on the game now. The generation of the Shastris is irrelevant now.

Shastri might have a reason to feel peeved after Sourav Ganguly, also a former captain and currently the president of the Cricket Association of Bengal, remained absent at the time he was making his presentation from Bangkok.

ravi shastri sourav ganguly

Ganguly commands respect as the respect of a team made of achievers

But the episode has a deeper message and it is about the greatness of the generation which had served under Ganguly as the captain. Shastri simply proves to be a pygmy before the giants who had taken India to great heights---both in terms of individual brilliance and team performance---and have no parallels in any other older batch.

That Ganguly's response to Shastri's allegations that the former was disrespect towards him earned applause on popular media had a reason.

The former captain is considered one of the greatest in modern era of Indian cricket, while the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Anil Kumble who had given him a side which had scaled many heights are seen with immense respect even after their retirement.

Ganguly had led a team which had brought back India's self-confidence in cricket

Each of these players have accomplished terrific individual records (Tendulkar's 100 tons, Dravid's classy touches against all opponents, Laxman's stupendous batting against the mighty Australians or Kumble's record number of Test wickets) and they made up a lot which saw India making an impact in world cricket like never before. And then there was the inspiring leadership of Ganguly who saw India drawing with Australia in Australia, England in England and even beating Pakistan in Pakistan.

The era of the Shastris, on the other hand, was mostly uninspiring (barring the Audi of course)

When we compare players like Shastri against the likes of Ganguly, the difference is between chalk and cheese. It is not to say that Shastri was an inferior player (he won the Champions of Champions crown in Australia in 1985, slammed a Test double century in the 1991-92 tour to Down Under and also stood up against mighty West Indian players in their den) but the point is: the height India's cricketing feats had touched during the era of the Gangulys and Tendulkars was simply unthinkable when the Shastris still wore the pads.

Ganguly's team members still have the respect for each other

When Ganguly backs Kumble saying he is the greatest, one also senses the feeling of camaraderie that still exists between these ex-players.

There might be differences of opinion but each of these former players have also maintained a place of their own in various capacities in Indian cricket, even after they have retired. It shows the Fantastic Five (as Ganguly's top men were called) are still the favourites to serve the country off the pitch.

Do we see such camaraderie among players of the previous eras?

Do we remember anybody or a team of people from the era when Shastri had played with similar affection? There were of course the two giants in Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev but they are more respected for their individual cricketing brilliance. As leaders of the teams of their generations, how many do we see these two towering players back today?

Mohammed Azharuddin was the most successful captain before Ganguly arrived on the scene, but how much the banned cricketer gave to his country? Navjot Singh Sidhu had walked out of Azharuddin's team during the 1996 tour to England while Manoj Prabhakar was often seen speaking against Kapil Dev. Shastri's decision to quit cricket at the age of 32 was also something which had not convinced many.

The Shastris' generations were seen less sensitive to players of the current era

Shastri's stint as the commentator had also not excited many. He, like many of his co-commentators and former players, were seen criticising the players of the next generations (barring Tendulkar though) whenever there was a loss or bad performance.

As if, it was all well in their own times. The extra speaking in front of the microphone certainly did not leave an impressive impression in the minds of those who succeeded Shastri's generations.

Today's generations trust a Ganguly more than say an Azhar or any player of the older generations: Such is the credibility

Given India were not a successful side between late 1980s and 2000s and individual ego clashes made more headlines than not has made the era of Ganguly look a golden one for today's generations. And hence, a member belonging to that generation is deemed more fit to take up as difficult a job as the coach of Team India. The Shastris and Azharuddins lack the trust and are seen less fit to do the job for which Kumble has been chosen.

The Shastri-Ganguly war of words is not just about two individuals. It is about the conflict of two different generations and cultures in our cricketing history. And Ganguly was bound to prevail because of some logical reasons.

Story first published: Thursday, June 30, 2016, 13:32 [IST]
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