New Delhi: Widespread resentment swept through cricket fans over Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and in-form VVS Laxman being dropped from India's squad for the triangular one-day series with Australia and Sri Lanka in Australia.
While cricket fans were angry at the decision of the national selectors, most former Test stars, some of them former selectors, have welcomed the move to build a team for the future, keeping in view the 2011 World Cup in the subcontinent.
The decision to drop Ganguly, in particular, came as a shock to many of his fans who held protest demonstrations in his home city Kolkata and in Varansi where they took to streets.
BIG SHOCK: The decision to drop Ganguly, in particular, came as a shock to many of his fans.
His fans were angry, as this is the second time in over a year that Ganguly has been sidelined trotting out his poor fielding and running between the wickets as the reasons. How could a player who has scored 1240 runs in 32 games, averaging 44, be dropped, asked many of his supporters.
According to sources in the cricket board, most of the inputs for the team selection came from skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the two selectors Venkatapathy Raju and Ranjib Biswal, who are in Australia, when chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar and his two colleagues Sanjay Jagdale and Bhupinder Singh Jr held a teleconference with them before the meeting.
It is now clear that the men on the spot down under made it clear that they would like a squad, which is energetic in the field and has the spirit of the Twenty20 squad which won the inaugural world championship last year.
The parameters automatically disqualified Ganguly and Dravid, who did not play in South Africa, though Sachin Tendulkar was an exception.
Specifically on Ganguly, it was stated that his fielding has deteriorated and he is not able to throw from the deep. His running between the wickets too came in for scrutiny. It was also said that Ganguly cannot be guaranteed a permanent place in the eleven with Virender Sehwag and Tendulkar chosen as openers. Robin Uthappa and Dinesh Karthik also can open and both of them are brilliant fielders.
The same yardstick was applied to Dravid as he, too, cannot find a place unless he bats at number three and there appeared not many takers for Laxman despite his great record down under as a fast run-getter even in the limited-overs cricket.
Former selector and captain of India Bishan Singh Bedi said: "For once you could not fault the selectors. And this is the best that could have happened looking at the World Cup. If there is anything wrong, it is the timing of the announcement when an important Test at Adelaide around. In this modern world, there is no problem of logistics. They could have easily alerted the players and announced the team on the last day of the Test."
Former coach Sandip Patil while supporting the selectors move asked "why are people talking only about Ganguly and why not Dravid."
Patil said no decision should be seen in an emotional outburst and the decision should be judged dispassionately.
Another former selector Kirti Azad, however, felt that there is little justification in dropping Ganguly and did not agree with the reasoning. "How can you have only a good fielding side, you also need someone to put runs on the board. A team should be selected on current form."
Azad also wondered how could board vice-president Rajeev Shukla comment on cricketing credentials of cricketers while justifying the selection of the squad.
Shukla said it is high time new faces were introduced with experienced players like Tendulkar, Yuvraj and Dhoni around. "Youth should get preference at some stage and this is the best time," he added.
Kiran More, from whom Vengsarkar took over as chairman, fully backed his successor and other selectors for their farsightedness, saying emotion has no place when you are talking of the national team.