Former BCCI President Sourav Ganguly Questions Ajinkya Rahane’s Elevation To Test Vice-Captaincy

Ajinkya Rahane has been appointed vice-captain of India Test team for the two-match series against West Indies next month.

Former BCCI President Sourav Ganguly Questions Ajinkya Rahane’s Elevation To Test Vice-Captaincy Team India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane. (Photo: ANI)

New Delhi: Former Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Sourav Ganguly finds it extremely baffling that Ajinkya Rahane has been handed Test vice-captaincy after spending nearly 18 months on the sidelines as the former India skipper demanded ‘consistency and continuity’ in the selection process. Rahane, 35, was out of favour for one-and-a-half years but was India's best batter in the World Test Championship final against Australia, with scores of 89 and 46 at the Oval, earlier this month.

Just one Test old after making a come back, the national selection committee headed by interim chief Shiv Sunder Das re-appointed Rahane as Rohit Sharma’s deputy for the West Indies Test series. So was it not ideal to groom someone like Shubman Gill for the role? “Yeah I think so,” Ganguly told PTI news agency during an exclusive interaction from London.

While he didn’t term Rahane’s ascendancy as a step backward, he didn’t term it as a pragmatic decision. “I won’t say it’s a step backward. You have been out for 18 months, then you play a Test and you become a vice-captain. I don't understand the thought process behind it. There is Ravindra Jadeja, who has been there for a long time and a certainty in Test matches, he is a candidate...But to just come back and straightway become vice-captain after 18 months, I don't understand. My only thing is that selection shouldn’t be hot and cold. There has to be continuity and consistency in selection,” Ganguly, one of India’s finest Test captains, said.

The Indian selectors have hit the transition button by excluding a batter of Chetshwar Pujara’s stature and Ganguly wants that communication channel should be clear with a player, who has featured in more than 100 Tests for India.

“Selectors should have a clear idea about him (Pujara). Do they need him to play Test cricket anymore or do they want to continue with youngsters and communicate it to him. Somebody like Pujara can’t be dropped, then picked, dropped again and then picked. Same with Ajinkya Rahane also,” Ganguly said.

Sarfaraz Khan deserves a chance to prove his mettle

There has been a overgrowing feeling that even to get a nod in Test cricket, one needs to have a solid IPL 2023 like Ruturaj Gaikwad had. Ganguly, though, disagrees with that notion. He said a prolific batter like Sarfaraz Khan, who could not do well in IPL, should get a chance to prove himself.

“I think Yashasvi Jaiswal has scored tons of runs in Ranji Trophy, Irani Trophy, Duleep Trophy. I think that's why he is in the squad. I feel for Sarfaraz Khan. At some point he should get an opportunity for the amount of runs that he has scored in past three years. And same thing for Abhimanyu Easwaran for the tons of runs he has scored in last five to six years. I am surprised that both of them have been omitted but they should get a chance in future. But Yashasvi Jasiwal is a good selection.”

He has seen Sarfaraz from close quarters as Director of Cricket at Delhi Capitals and he isn’t amused with the perception that he can’t play fast bowling. “If you don’t play him (Sarfaraz) against fast bowling, how do you know?” he countered.

“If he had problems he wouldn’t have scored so many runs all around (India). I personally feel he has no problems against fast bowling and he should be given an opportunity,” Ganguly said.

So does he feel that we need a big name as chairman to stand up to big names in the Indian team management. “I don't want to comment on that to be honest.”

‘No reason why one can’t manage playing both IPL and WTC final’

The World Test Championship final is always slated after two months of IPL and there is a school of thought that BCCI should speak to IPL franchises in order to monitor workload of players.

Ganguly, who has been on both sides of the fence feels it is not a practical solution. “I don’t agree with this theory. Ajinkya Rahane also played IPL and he played very well during IPL and World Test Championship final. So I don't believe in this theory. Some of the Australian boys (Cameron Green, David Warner), played well in IPL also and did well in World Test Championship.

“After IPL finished, there was enough time to acclimatise to Test cricket. They went to England and they played. It used to happen in the past. You played ODI cricket and you played Test cricket, things used to happen very, very quickly and so I don't believe it's an issue. So I believe that even if you play IPL, you should have the ability to adjust your technique and temperament and do well in a Test match,” he said.

BCCI and ICC did good job with choice of World Cup venues

While a few traditional centres like Mohali and Nagpur have missed out, Ganguly praised both ICC and BCCI bigwigs for good choice of venues. “It’s a great schedule and the allocation of the matches has been fantastic. BCCI and ICC have done a great job to give correct matches to correct venues and I know it is going to be a tremendous World Cup. I know how BCCI organises the IPL, they will make it a spectacle,” he concluded.