Cricket and Controversy – A combination which unfortunately goes hand in hand in India. The sport is huge in the country and with so much popularity, it is obvious that it will have more eyeballs and more media attention. This is one of the reasons why so many big controversies happen in Indian cricket. The ongoing BCCI vs Virat Kohli saga, which started after the latter was sacked as ODI captain, has been one of the most shocking incidents in recent times.
There is a complete contrast between the claims made by BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and statements given by Virat Kohli, which proves that not all is well behind the scenes. However, it is not the first time that Ganguly, one of the India’s finest ever cricketers and captain, has found himself in the middle of a big controversy. Coincidentally, he has been involved in some form or the other, in all major issues of dispute in Indian cricket in 21st century.
Here is a list of 5 major controversies in Indian cricket in last 20 years:
The infamous Greg Chappell Saga
In early 2005, India were in hunt of a new coach with John Wright unwilling to renew his contract which was ending. This is when captain Sourav Ganguly recommended the name of Greg Chappell for the head coach position, after being impressed with his technical knowledge of the game during his interaction with Chappell couple of years earlier.
Many experts like Sunil Gavaskar and Ian Chappell felt that Greg was not the right man for the job due to his style of work but Ganguly convinced the team management to get the Aussie on board. As it turned out, it proved to be the biggest mistake of Ganguly’s life as it had a huge negative impact on his own career, along with Indian cricket.
In an email sent by Chappell to BCCI (which got leaked), the Aussie had mentioned that Ganguly was ‘mentally and physically’ unfit to lead the team. As it turned out, Dada was replaced by Dravid as captain and was also dropped from the ODI side before being forced to spend about 1 year on the sidelines. Due to India’s shambolic performance in 2007 ODI WC and the rift between coach and Ganguly, the Chappell era is considered as one of the darkest chapters in Indian cricket.
Ugliest Test in cricket history – SCG in 2008
The SCG Test between India and Australia in 2008 is still regarded as one of the ugliest matches ever played in history of cricket. The contest was marred with various controversies, especially the umpiring howlers which went against India. Among all the decisions which went against the visitors, Sourav Ganguly’s dismissal was one that caught everyone’s attention.
The left-handed batsman had edged a ball in the slip cordon where Michael Clarke claimed to have taken the catch cleanly. It looked like the ball had touched the ground and Ganguly stood firm, refusing to leave the crease. But in a dramatic sequence of events, umpire Mark Benson asked Ricky Ponting if it was a legal catch and after Ponting said that it was out, Benson asked Ganguly to leave the ground leaving everyone in shock.
Harbhajan Singh was also accused of hurling racial slurs against Andrew Symonds, summing up the most controversial Test that India have been a part of in their cricket history. Years later, Ganguly said, “Only a Sardarji can tell what he meant by that,” while reflecting on the Monkeygate scandal.
KKR captaincy row in 2009
One of the first major controversies in Indian Premier League happened way back in 2009 when Sourav Ganguly, the prince of Kolkata, was stripped of KKR captaincy ahead of the second edition of tournament taking place in South Africa. There were rumours that there were issues between then KKR coach John Buchanan and captain Sourav Ganguly which is why Brendon McCullum was handed the leadership duties in 2009.
Reflecting on the controversy, former KKR player Aakash Chopra had recently said, “Buchanan’s way of working was different, and Sourav had a different temperament. In the end, he also wanted to remove Sourav Ganguly from captaincy, which actually happened the following season (in 2009).”
After Buchanan was sacked, Ganguly took over KKR captaincy in 2010 and post another disappointing season, he was released by the franchise ahead of 2011 auctions, where he went unsold.
Ganguly-Dravid public fall-out in 2011
Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid have been two legends of Indian cricket. However, Dada’s shocking statements during an interview in 2011 led to a major controversy, much to the surprise of all the fans. After Dravid had replaced Ganguly as captain of Team India during the Greg Chappell era, the former left-handed batsman publicly called out Dravid few years later for his lack of courage.
“Rahul Dravid is such type of a person who wants that everything goes smoothly. He knew that things were going wrong, but he had no courage to revolt and tell him (Chappell) that he was doing wrong,” Ganguly said in an interview with Headlines Today.
In a surprising turn of events, Dravid – who usually doesn’t get involved in controversies – gave a reply back to Dada for his comments. “If Ganguly is saying I could not control Greg Chappell, he is entitled to an opinion. He has played many years for India… But he can’t put words in my mouth as I have never had any such conversation with him,” Dravid told Headlines Today.
Much to the delight of everyone, the controversy did not escalate any further and ended right here. But the fans were indeed left in complete shock to see two legends of Indian cricket engaging in such an ugly war of words.
Conflict of interest for India’s Fab 4
In 2019, the controversy of conflict of interest struck the Indian cricket and India’s Fab 4 found themselves in a difficult position. In a notice issued, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman were asked to step down from the committee that selected Ravi Shastri as coach, because of the connections of two players with MI and SRH respectively.
On the other hand, Rahul Dravid was told that he could not be the vice president at Indian Cements (CSK owners) while being the head of National Cricket Academy (NCA). Meanwhile, Sourav Ganguly was also asked to not sit in Delhi Capitals dugout (as their mentor) while he was in charge of Eden Gardens as the President of Cricket association of Bengal.
It was one major talking point in Indian cricket with some of the legendary players of country questioned for holding various positions at the same time.