Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dada – The renaissance of Indian Cricket !!!!


10th Oct 2008 – I was staring at my office computer’s monitor, trying to decide on what other website I should be choosing to browse to while away the idle office time. Just then I got a SMS from my friend. Since I was eagerly waiting for some mail or message, something to keep me engaged for atleast a minute (such was the extremity of my boredom) immediately I took my mobile out of the pouch to read the message. It read “Machi, Dada quitting after the Australia series da”. I was taken aback. It was really a jolt, the news. I immediately pounced on the keyboard to type out all the news channel websites, hoping that atleast one of them will read “Ganguly retirement – a rumour”. But no, all the websites confirmed my friend’s message.

Having been a hardcore fan of Dada and an ardent follower of his ups and downs, I was already praying (rather hoping) for a run feast from his bat to silence all his critics and repeat his ‘comeback skills’. I never wanted to see the last of Ganguly. Everytime people wrote him off, I was begging to God to bring in a revival and that’s what exactly happened all these years. But now, I knew that probably no more miracles are possible. The coming twenty odd days are the last that I am going to see of a man who resurrected Indian cricket and shaped it into a formidable side. Former Australian captain had once quoted “Indian cricket team is a team of great individuals, but we are a great team”. It required a captain of dada’s calibre to change that perception. Right from the day he took over from Azhar, the change was imminent.

Ganguly had taken reign when there were these talks of match-fixing, people throwing matches for money. But here was a man, who almost did anything to see India win. Be it making Steve Waugh wait for eternity or bring back forgotten people (likes of V. Raju just because Aussies were weak against spin bowlers). You could never doubt his intentions or integrity. He was the King of Indian cricket and he made decisions that best suited an Indian win. He was aggressive, arrogant at times. But nothing mattered to him as long as India won. He did not bother about what others thought about him, what the media wrote about his decisions, what the former players had to comment.
He only wanted one result, an Indian victory. During his process of building a formidable side he identified men of similar aggressive nature. That’s when the likes of Sehwag, Harbhajan, Yuvraj, Zaheer and of course MS Dhoni, all arrived on the scene. He backed them to the core, since he knew that they had the ability to meet the opponent eye to eye. He was definitely the one who changed the face of Indian cricket in the overseas arena. It was under his leadership that the Indian team learnt the art of ‘killer instinct’. Gone were the days when people used to switch off the television sets once Sachin got out. This new Indian team under dada always gave us hope. Even after 6 wickets going down, we could see that there was a will to fight till the end. Many occasions they did pull it off. The Natwest final being a great example

Ganguly had always been a man who doesn’t mince words when speaking out. He always spoke his heart and little did he know that this trait in him will dethrone him from the empire which he had built all himself. If I was Harsha Bogle, I will probably be cursing myself for having taken
that fateful interview and brought out that statement from Ganguly, which resulted in him losing his captaincy and ultimately a place in the side. Within a matter of days Ganguly, from being the maharaj, was reduced to a mortal player, waiting to find a place in the squad. It all happened too soon. Cricket they say is a great leveler. For that matter all sports is. But it was when witnessing what happened to Ganguly did I realize the real bitter meaning behind that saying. True. It did bring Ganguly’s pride to a fall. But it was really emotional to see this great man, who once walked with his head high, like a Maharaj, making all important decisions himself, appearing in a Pepsi ad saying “Am Saurav Ganguly. Hope you all didn’t forget me”. He was pushed to the oblivion and people gunned for his head and wanted to ensure that he was history. I had lost all hopes of seeing back dada in the international cricketing arena. That was when Dilip Vengsarkar, the then new chief selector, who followed Kiran More, threw the lifeline to Ganguly. Wasn’t he waiting for it??? He grabbed it with both the hands and came back to a roaring form. The whole nation was rejoicing seeing the Bengal tiger on the prowl again in the pitch. His knock against the South Africans proved that he was back……… better and wiser !!!!

Not even the best scripted novels would have had the kind of twists and turns that a Ganguly’s cricketing life had. His initial debut in 1992, then the long gap, the burst into international scenario with back to back centuries in England, the match winning batting and bowling performances in Toronto against Pakistan, the takeover of captaincy from Azhar, the Greg spat, the fateful interview, almost nailed into a coffin by Kiran more, the comeback of a lifetime, dropped from the Irani squad for the Aussie series and last minute lifeline from Srikanth, the century at B’lore test, the 15 run short of a record-breaking century and finally the heart-breaking golden duck. Such was the ebb and flow of his fluctuating fortunes.

During his days of glory, Ganguly was probably the most destructive batsman India has ever produced. Such was the audacity of his strokes. The sight of him dancing down the track to the likes of South African quickies (during their tour to India) still remains etched in my memories. The ability to send the ball soaring beyond the boundary with minimum effort is a stamp of Ganguly’s great batting. He was definitely not the best in the business when it came to being technically correct. The bowlers always felt that he gave them a chance. But the fact that, despite that he managed to score more than ten thousand runs in the shorter version and seven thousand odd in the longer version speaks volumes about his character and mental strength. He certainly was the most effective opening batsman for India along with Sachin. The grace with which he pierced the gap between covers and cover point was a treat to watch.

Ganguly was not the most loved or respected person by the opponents. Infact on most occasions he got under their skin. His mere presence sometimes, irritated the opponents, especially the Aussies. But, that was a deliberate ploy which he used successfully to mentally disintegrate the opponents, a fact which was openly accepted by Steve Waugh in his auto-biography. Probably he is the most controversial character in the history of Indian cricket. His entire cricketing life makes an interesting study. He evoked a lot of emotions. Just when you think he is down and out, he will comeback with a roaring knock. And just when you relax and feel that he will go on to play for a long time, he will stammer and land himself in trouble. He was a man full of surprises. His final test match truly evident of that fact. The way he almost pulled off a fairy tale end to his career by coming so close to a century and when people, after his magnificent first innings knock, expected him to crack the whip one last time, he walks back with a golden duck.

For all the trouble, pain and agony which he had gone through, Ganguly, I think would have been more than happy to have received such a resounding farewell. It was a fitting farewell to mark, probably the end of an era. It was a farewell, which he might well feel happy about, considering the fact that he would have loved to play on if given the option to. The sacrifice was well worth the gracious exit which was awarded to him. Even he wouldn’t have dreamt of an end like this when he was left lurching in the woods fighting out for a place in the team. It was a great sight to see him don the captaincy role one last time, waving to the fielders and setting the field.
It would have been great if the last wicket had fell under his short little captaincy role. But as always with Ganguly, it doesn’t happen when you expect it the most. But it brought back memories of those wonderful days.
The days when he lead the team onto the field, the sight of him wearing the butterfly eye gear with his full sleeves t-shirt folded 3/4th, the great Indian huddle which he formed, the charismatic smile on sealing a victory, his eccentric behavior on the field, the sight of him dancing down the wicket hoisting a left arm off spinner over the boundary for a six, showing his middle finger to the aussie crowd after the historical win over the aussies in Chennai and of course his shirt stripping act………

He would have definitely wanted to have played more matches for India. It’s no doubt that he has been forced into retirement. But it is far better than seeing him fighting in vain against the selectors and the younger lots to gain a place in 11. He deserves a better place to be right now, after all those wonderful moments of joy which he brought to the nation, through his batting, leadership skills and charismatic appearance. The place is our hearts…….

Dada, do not worry about being forced to part away with your place in the Indian team, you will always be celebrated in our hearts, till our lifetime…………

Sri Kumar J


Anonymous said...

Well said... But, try not to delete your previous articles! (as it might be of some significance at some point of time)

Rajiv M said...

i share 100% similar thoughts...u know that... my blog on the wall was half ready some 6 months back...still in the same stage... so any ideas of writing about him...stop it there..hehe

SriKumar J said...

To anonymous,

Thanx for ur suggestion. But dont u think that its high time that u revealed ur identity ??

SriKumar J said...

To rajiv,

Abt wall dont worry u proceed now. U wont hav competition from my end :-)
I will wait till his retirement to pen my thoughts abt him. But surely it wont be as big and as passionate as of dada's........

koushick said...

ada ada ada......... ennamaaa potti podreenga da oru blog ezhutha....

seri rendu perum Dravid pathi ezhuthunga aaana rendu konjam vidyasama irukaaa mathiri exhuthunga da !.

@ Dada,

Certainly one of the best and aggressive captains India has had till date.A terrific attacking batsmen who really made sachin look calmer at once he partnered him in the opening slot.Infact he gave sachin a run for his centuries record till Captaincy ,Nagma,Dalmiya,Greg & other issues creeped in and stopped him.

I always felt he should have ended his ODI career with some 30 + centuries and also should have bowled a lot more than he had done for he had a golden arm.

for sure Dada will be missed !

Anonymous said...

Stopped blogging or wat?? Keep writing... YOU CAN! :)

SriKumar J said...

Hi Anonymous.... feeling too lazy to write nowadays... BTB, u havent given ur name....