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banner Sunday, 16 December, 2001, 13:41 GMT
Sourav short in captaincy stakes
Sourav Ganguly
Ganguly presents a distant figure to press and players
BBC Sport's Pat Murphy compares the leadership abilities of Nasser Hussain and Sourav Ganguly, and believes the England captain stands out a mile.

England may trail India in the Test series - and they may indeed end up 2-0 losers if the ball spins like a top in the final Test at Bangalore - but in one area the visitors are leading comfortably.

Nasser Hussain isn't just streets ahead of Sourav Ganguly as a leader; he's not in the same postal district.

Ganguly's authority has been eroded by his own poor form, the lacklustre showing in South Africa and the fact that most of his side are playing for themselves.
Hussain has been most impressive on and off the field on this tour, barely missing a beat in the important public relations field on such a sensitive trip, getting runs in the two Tests so far and impressing tactically.

With Hussain on the field, there's never any doubt who is in charge of England. With Ganguly leading India, they look in turns dispirited, unmotivated and tactically sterile.

Sometimes, as Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath gather for discussions, with Ganguly languidly on the periphery, it looks like captaincy by committee on the field of play.

If there's a trick to be missed, Ganguly rarely fails.

Nasser Hussain with his team
There is never a doubt over England's leadership
Of course, if India win the series in a week's time, Ganguly will have claimed the scalps of both Australia and England at home this year, continuing a captaincy record that, statistically at least, is more impressive than more charismatic leaders of the past.

Kapil Dev, for example, could only lay claim to World Cup victory in 1983 and success in England in the Test series of 1986, while failing as leader for the rest of the time.

It appears that Ganguly is perfectly happy to sit on the victory at Mohali, when England badly under-performed, and to many he'll be a hero. But he does make it hard for himself.

Upper-class background

Ganguly comes from a wealthy family. Most of the Indian players are from the middle class, but Ganguly is emphatically from the upper strata and his demeanour makes it clear he knows it.

He lacks the common touch with his players, so he finds it almost impossible to motivate them.

Sourav Ganguly in the field
Ganguly appears to want to keep his flannels clean
In the field, he sets no sort of example, preferring to keep his flannels free of grass stains, leaving dives at the ball to lesser mortals.

When he dropped a skier at Ahmedabad, reprieving Hussian, he was heartily booed by the home supporters and he got the same treatment as he walked back to the pavilion after being dismissed cheaply in the first innings.

Compare Hussain's reception in the land of his birth. That has helped his growing popularity, but more relevant has been his palpable air of command on the field.

He sets a tremendous example anywhere in the field, never stops backing tactical hunches, never allows the game to drift, always supports his team-mates volubly and gets total commitment from the side.

The quality of the cricket on the third day at Ahmedabad was magnificent - not just for Tendulkar's scintillating hundred, but for the way that England stood up to the onslaught, kept plugging away with bowling permutations and fielded inspirationally.

That doggedness got its reward when Tendulkar was outwitted by Matthew Hoggard's slower ball just after reaching his hundred, but the unquenchable spirit of England in the field was epitomised by their captain, who fittingly caught India's star batsman.

Off-field ability

Hussain is also a very shrewd dealer with the media.

He has thought deeply about how to deal with an area that frustrates many a Test captain, and he is highly respected for his honesty and articulacy by all sections of the media corps, both English and Indian.

Hussain faces the media
Hussain has shown skill in dealing with the media
Ganguly,on the other hand, can barely conceal his contempt for the press conferences he has to attend as part of his duties.

He is particularly non-committal to the Indian press, some of whom angered him by stating that Ganguly didn't get the squad he wanted for the first Test.

At the end of the Ahmedabad match, the Indian press sat mute as the English media pressed Ganguly on his thoughts about being booed by home supporters and his own poor form.

Ganguly clearly resented the line of questioning.

He ought to take lessons from Hussain in deftly fielding such justified enquiries, because the England captain has indeed had to front up to them at times during his tenure.

Card to play

Clearly Ganguly isn't up to the job, judged by the highest standards - those that allow Hussain, Stephen Fleming and Steve Waugh to pass muster at international level.

Ganguly's authority has been eroded by his own poor batting form, the lacklustre showing of India in the recent series in South Africa and the demonstrable fact that most of his side are playing for themselves.

New Zealand coach John Wright, with Anil Kumble
Coach Wright could be a scapegoat for failure
He has one strong card up his sleeve, though, if he wants to stay on as captain.

He is a family friend of Jagmohan Dalmiya, the combative President of the Board of Control, who shares Ganguly's Calcutta roots, wealthy lifestyle and a disinclination to turn the other cheek to any perceived slight.

If he loses the Bangalore Test, Dalmiya will probably make the respected and experienced Kiwi coach John Wright the fall guy.

There is one shaft of optimism, though, for anyone who trusts that Ganguly might one day become a mature, supportive captain.

Nasser Hussain was occasionally brattish and self-absorbed during his 20s but look at him now, at the age of 33.

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