Friday, October 17, 2008

Sourav Ganguly: Leads from the front even in retirement

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Sourav Ganguly called it quits amidst the biggest festive season in West Bengal. The entire City of Joy which had hardly recovered from the shock of Ratan Tata's pull out had to face another hard reality. Their favourite son will be wearing the India colours for one last time. The reactions were mixed unlike the Tata blow where everybody had their shoulders down.

The biggest of Sourav's critics would accept the fact that he has been the most successful cricketer from the state since the days of Pankaj Roy. For close to two decades now he has been the face of Bengal cricket. Some of the best performances of Bengal in the recent years came when Sourav was a part of the team after being dropped from the Indian team for reasons other than cricket.

In his retirement also he has shown the way to many of his team mates who did not have the courage to take the first call. There may be conspiracy theory doing rounds of the cricketing circles about the so called VRS plan but the fact remains Sourav would not have got a bigger series to retire than versus his favourite competitors the Aussies to hang up his boots.

The mighty Australians might hate him but from inside many in their camp have an admiration for this man who resisted to bow down to Steve Waugh's famous 'Mental Disintegration' techniques during 2001 series and later turned the series on its head. He did the same in the 2003-04 tour to Australia when he made sure Waugh's farewell series was 'not so perfect'. His classy 144 in Brisbane in the first test set the tone of the famous series.

There are many who would argue Sourav being a better skipper than a batsman but the fact remains you do not score more than 18000 runs in international cricket by fluke. The right way to pay tribute to this man would be to regard him the best left hander to have worn the Indian colours and without doubt the best man helming the team in the history of Indian cricket.

Most of his supporters would feel that the Prince of Kolkata has been victimised and rightly so as his performance since his comeback has been second to none. The mental toughness and resilience that Sourav showed after he was dropped is something others in the Fab Four could not have dreamed of. He came back to the team from a point where most of the pundits had written him off. Dada does not need to prove any more thing to anybody but the selectors should understand that such gems of the game deserve to be treated in a much more respectful manner. As for Sourav even in retirement he has lead from the front.


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