Ganguly shocks all by opting out of playing XI

May 12, 2012, 07:46 IST | Shreeram Gokhale

Young Aussie Steve Smith leads Pune Warriors as Sourav Ganguly is not part of the XI against Royal Challengers Bangalore

“I am the captain till the end of IPL-5,” Pune Warriors India skipper Sourav Ganguly had declared on Thursday evening. However, what he never made clear, or was never asked to make clear, was the fact that whether he would still be part of the playing XI or not for yesterday’s game. 

Pune Warriors’ Sourav Ganguly in the dugout during their match against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Gahunje yesterday. Pic/AFP

And, with the team owner declaring that Ganguly won’t play for PWI next season, it made sense that someone else was given the responsibility of leading the team, because building a team and nurturing a captain for the future are the only things PWI can achieve from the rest of the Indian Premier League-V.

And their choice of a new captain was interesting. The honour went to the only foreigner to have played in all the games for PWI this season, Steve Smith. From a 40-year-old skipper, PWI went to a 22-year-old Aussie, who has been PWI’s most impressive batsman of the season.

If Smith has been given the charge with an eye on future, then it clearly makes sense. Smith is one of the three players who have played in every game for PWI this season, Ganguly and Robin Uthappa being the others.

Angelo Mathews and Michael Clarke would have been the obvious other candidates. But as far as planning for future is concerned, Clarke is not a good choice, as he has quit the international T20 cricket, and nobody knows if he would be available for the next season.

Mathews, billed to be the next Sri Lanka captain, has had his share of injuries, and there is always a talk of him quitting his medium-pace bowling altogether to prolong his career.

With just four foreigners being allowed in the playing XI, it might not be a great choice to nurture someone who can, perhaps, only bat one year down the line.

Add to that, Smith led the Sydney Sixers to the Big Bash title earlier this year. And for those, who are disappointed at not seeing an Indian captain, there is a certain Yuvraj Singh, who should be back in action for the next IPL. 

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