I’ve been known to praise Sourav Ganguly’s work as a commentator; I like him so much I’ll keep the volume up on my live stream when he’s talking, instead of turning to usually better crew at TestMatchSofa.com. What I like about Ganguly is the combination of a sedate, soft-spoken voice with a ruthless, all-seeing strategic mind.
He’s also clearly used to handling personalities the way they need to be. During Day 2, the subject of Harbhajan Singh — much maligned, and rightly so — came up. Ganguly’s partner asked him what he thought of Singh and his attitude and contribution to the team. Ganguly began by saying Harbhajan was a total and complete asset to any cricket captain, always willing to say ‘Yes’ and bring his A-game to the crease. Then, he said the crucial thing to know about Harbhajan is that if he doesn’t take a wicket early on in his spell, his confidence drops and he starts to go into a shell.
That’s a big contradiction. Either he is a big-hearted lion willing to shoulder the burdens for the team, or he is a fickle primadonna who throws a loser tantrum every time things don’t go his way. Ganguly didn’t seem to sense the contradiction — or maybe he did, and I was trying to make his case diplomatically — but most Indian fans haven’t either, even after a decade of watching the Harbhajan. On the one hand, we value his heroic efforts and pugnacious contributions (from a Test century to the few 5-wicket hauls), yet on the other, we bemoan his average average (above 30) and his often defensive bowling. The best I can say about Harbhajan is that he suffers from ‘superstar complex’ — unwilling to toil, but always ready to sense the big moment and seize the spotlight.