Sourav Ganguly denied it, but rumours are spreading that he will stay on only as mentor next season onwards, not captain and not player. Many people were happy, some were not. He also sat out the match against RCB. This action got mixed responses too. And while he may have claimed that he stepped down from captaincy for one game to give the young guns a chance, it raises doubt as to whether that was his only intention.
There is an old saying, penned by people who knew a thing or two – you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Maybe it was the reality of this phrase unfolding in front of him that pushed Sourav Ganguly to sit out this match? Because no matter what he did, his team couldn’t perform; and he ultimately was labelled as a poor captain, over and above the tag of poor player.
The season started well for PWI – they won their first few matches and even returned from their losses with determination. But their losing streak began with their loss against the Delhi Daredevils and they haven’t been able to recover since. While they won matches, Ganguly earned accolades for being a captain who could turn talented individuals into a team. He was however, criticised for his poor form, irrespective of his capability to guide his team. And when PWI began losing, all accusations turned to Ganguly. He was no longer the capable captain. He was a captain with bad judgement and a player in worse form.
So what happened when Steven Smith was called upon as captain? A player who’s been in best of form all season, and has had experience in leadership, he should have been able to do what Ganguly could no longer do. He could have led his team to victory, especially when they were playing for pride. So why did they lose?
The answer lies not in how the team is led, but how the team wants to be led. No matter what anyone says, you can’t force a player to be aggressive, you can’t make them want to play well. Those are emotions and desires that need to come from within each player. Yes, you can motivate them by giving them a pep talk and making them want the satisfaction and glory associated with a victory. But they needs to feel that motivation for themselves. And it seems that, that very desire is missing from most players of the Pune team. How else can you explain a fielder who lets the ball roll past within two feet of him and let it reach the boundary when all he needed was a tiny little dive?
Compare that then to the fielding displayed by the players of RCB, especially in the last over of the match. Pune’s target was impossible – no one can get 40 runs off 5 balls. But still, RCB fought to stop every singly ball from reaching the boundary and fought hard.
So what makes the Warriors field with the attitude that their opponent’s runs don’t matter – like they can reach any target put forth to them? What makes them bat like they were playing a Test, with no concern for the necessity of getting boundaries in T20s? And what can any captain do to make them want to play differently?
The fault in the PWI doesn’t lie in the way they’re led or in who leads them; it lies in each player who plays without care. Steven Smith has emerged as one of the best players of the PWI – he’s the fans’ favourite and he has earned that position. But when the time comes that the dedication of a single player shines through like a beacon, there is obviously something missing from the other players of the team – something that they need to work towards and something very basic in their attitude that needs heavy alteration.