Controversy trails Indian captains

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> For cricketers the raised finger is part of the game, but for Indian cricket captains the raised finger of the BCCI is almost part of life.

Updated: November 06, 2007 15:51 IST
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For cricketers the raised finger is part of the game, but for Indian cricket captains the raised finger of the BCCI is almost part of life.

Rahul Dravid like Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar had decided to walk away from the limelight on his own.

But right from the era of telegrams to emails, Indian captains found themselves summarily dismissed by big brother BCCI.

Veteran Polly Umrigar heralded as one of India's cricket greats was the first victim of telegram pressure in the home series in 1958.

On the morning of the fourth Test at Madras, Polly received a telegram from BCCI president Ratibai Patel asking him to include off-spinner Jassu Patel in the playing eleven.

This was in reply to Polly's request to play batsman A K Sengupta, insulted Polly quit just before the toss.

In the 1958 Home series against West Indies India had four captains for the five Tests starting with Polly Umrigar and ending with Hemu Adhikari.

The 1958-1959 Home series India versus West Indies:
  • First Test: Polly Umrigar
  • Second Test: Gulam Ali
  • Third Test: Polly Umrigar
  • Fourth Test: Vinoo Mankad
  • Fifth Test: Hemu Adhikari
And with D K Gaekwad as the captain for the England series that followed India had six captains in just over a year.

"We had five captains. Four captains in five matches: Polly, Gulam, Polly, Vinoo, Hemu. And as if that was not enough, D K Gaekwad was made captain for the England series," said Nari Contractor, former Indian Captain.

"And even if that was not enough, Ramchand was captain for the Australia series. It is only after I took over was there some continuity," he added.

If captains have been changed in a jiffy the way they have been sacked and selected is also the stuff of cricketing folklore.

Ajit Wadekar who went shopping for vegetables with his wife returned to hear from waiting journalists at his house that Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi has been sacked and he had been made captain for the now historic West Indies tour of 1971 that Wadekar was to win for India.

In 1979 Srinivas Venkatraghavan got to know of his sacking through an in flight announcement. The pilot of the aircraft was carrying the Indian team back from England. He also announced that Gavaskar had replaced Venkatraghavan; both players were on board.

Mohinder Amarnath was called by someone in the BCCI to Chandigarh as he was picked to be captain for the 1987-1988 series versus West Indies. He reached Chandigarh to find Dilip Vengsarkar already there and named captain.

This is a far cry from present times when Indian players like Sachin Tendulakar are asked if they want the Indian captaincy.

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