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2000s in Review

Wisden India Test team of the 2000s: The captaincy dilemma

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

The Wisden India team, comprising Editor-at-large Karunya Keshav, Editor Manoj Narayan, and staff writers Akshay Gopalakrishnan and Aadya Sharma, gathered – virtually, of course – to come up with a Test and ODI XI for India as part of Wisden’s 2000s in Review series.

During the course of picking out the Test XI, there were several points of contention, one of them being the tricky choice for captain. India, in the 2000s, had their golden generation of cricketers, meaning the side was full of potential captains.

From Sourav Ganguly, who is credited with changing the face of Indian cricket, to MS Dhoni and Rahul Dravid, there were some stellar names of which only one could be picked. Ultimately, after much heated debate, the panel went with Ganguly.

Here’s why.

MN: Did anyone else not have Dada as captain?

AG: I did.

AS: I’ve Ganguly as captain too.

KK: Kumble for captain.

MN: WOAH. I liked Kumble in his time as captain, honestly. He did a lot to steady the ship, and a bowling captain is particularly nice to see. But just the sheer immensity of what Ganguly did – taking over after the fixing-scandal of 2000, making the team more aggressive and fearless, especially overseas. Also, as a Test captain, he definitely tops Dhoni, who was my other candidate. Special mention to Dravid, of course.

AG: Kumble is a terrific choice for captain. He led the team superbly in Australia in 2007/08, which was one of the toughest tours. More so with his man management, with all that was happening off the field. But Sourav, man, his impact was far greater and over a much larger period of time.

I mean, he inherited a raw team and moulded it into a top side. The boldness he instilled in the team, that give-it-back quality – I liked it a lot. Especially against Australia, I thought it made the contests ever more electric, which they already were because of the quality of cricket. Also really liked his tendency to encourage new, young players. But more than anything, Sourav for me will always be legendary for how he changed the image of India as a touring side. He produced results and made the world believe that this side can compete! It was revolutionary.

KK: My thinking is that the [Greg] Chappell episode sullied Ganguly, and Indian cricket at the time, too much. I don’t want to remember Indian cricket like that. The defining leader was Kumble, who steadied things and made sure the culture was solid.

AS: But that way, Ganguly helped India get out of the fixing business …

MN: Yeah, I tend to remember Ganguly for what he did in the early 2000s than the whole Chappell issue.

AG: Ganguly was no saint himself. But everyone and their dog had an issue with Chappell. He was clearly not a good manager.

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