Sourav Ganguly (A): A Case Study in Leadership

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Case Details:

Case Code : LDEN048
Case Length : 23 Pages
Period : 2000-2006
Pub Date : 2007
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Not Applicable
Industry : Sports and Entertainment Countries : India

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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"In a single day he can provoke exasperation, infuriation, and congratulations…[Sourav] is a mixture of dashing cricketer, disdainful aristocrat, protesting youth, charming socialiser, glorious leader and fierce competitor."1

- Peter Roebuck, former cricketer,
newspaper columnist and radio commentator.

"[Ganguly's] deft management skills, I know, have also influenced many of us in the corporate world. Saurav has demonstrated very effectively all the qualities of a corporate leader. Saurav has demonstrated how to build and manage a team; how to succeed at home and to replicate that success overseas. Saurav has demonstrated the importance of getting the best resources and talent; motivating them; and to emerge as a serious player in a competitive environment."2

- B Muthuraman, managing director, Tata Steel,3 in 2004..

"Saurav is an example of an outstanding leader who was willing to take strong, hard stands. He also managed his team well and backed a number of young players… He failed because of a certain situation he could not handle. Every leader succeeds and fails depending on the situation s/he is working under."4

- Harsha Bhogle, Television commentator and cricket columnist, in 2006.

A Charismatic and Controversial Leader

In February 2006, after the Indian cricket team's tour of Pakistan, Indian cricketer Sourav Ganguly (Ganguly) was axed from the Indian test squad. Earlier, he had also been dropped from the one day international5 (ODI) team.

Ganguly, who was considered an inspirational leader and the most successful captain of the Indian cricket team, found himself out of the team he had built and captained since the last five years.

Ganguly, who hailed from the city of Kolkata in West Bengal,6 was first selected to play for the Indian national cricket team during the 1991-92 tour of Australia.

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However, after the series he was dropped from the national squad. In 1996, Ganguly made a comeback to the national team and quickly rose to prominence in the international cricketing arena. He was considered to be very competitive and often got under the skin of the opponent. While he got the nicknames "The Prince of Calcutta' and the 'Royal Bengal Tiger', and was affectionately called Dada7 by his team mates, he also earned the nickname 'Lord Snooty' from the competitors and the foreign media. 

Ganguly got the job of captaining the Indian cricket team in 2000, when Indian cricket was going through a turbulent phase. The match-fixing8 scandal had left an indelible imprint on Indian cricket with some prominent players being banned from the game. In addition to this, the team had lost a rare test9 series at home and the morale of the team was at its lowest. Bitter from his previous experience, India's cricketing icon, Sachin Tendulkar (Tendulkar) declined the captaincy.10 By default, the captaincy came to Ganguly. Ganguly wanted a professional foreign coach and accordingly in November 2000, former New Zealand cricketer, John Wright (Wright) joined the Indian team as coach...

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1]  The Cricketer International, Loc=SRCAB.

2]  "Saurav Role Model of a Leader: Muthuraman," Financial Express,, May 4, 2004.

3]  Tata Steel is a multinational steel company based in Jamshedpur, India.

4]  "At IIM-A, Harsha Mixes Business with Sports,", October 28, 2006.

5]  One-day International matches are a one day affair, where each team bats for 50 overs and a result is usually guaranteed.

6]  Kolkata is the capital of West Bengal, a state located in the Eastern part of India.

7]  Dada is a Bengali word that translates to "elder brother" in English.

8]  Match fixing in organized sports occurs when a match is played to a completely or partially pre-determined result.

9]  Test matches are played over five days. Results are not always guaranteed. It is called the real cricket as it tests the skills, ability, and temperament of the cricketers.

10]  Though Tendulkar was a great batsman, many believed that he was not a great leader. His expectations of "superhuman efforts" from his team members were supposed to have alienated the team members. Tendulkar was also embittered due to the criticisms of his captaincy by the media, the team's poor run, and the match-fixing controversy.


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