Nov 11, 2012

Ganguly's retirement- No more Dadagiri?

Amidst the controversial match(es) at Stamford Bridge, something significant happened in the cricket world, which football fans might just have missed- Sourav Ganguly opted out of IPL 6, and Ranji Trophy, retiring from all forms of Cricket. No more cheering for Dada, no more anticipating matches of Kolkata Knight Riders, or Pune Warriors for that matter. Cricket, as I (as well as a large chunk of Bengalis) knew it, is over.

Back in the late 90s, I really admired Mohammad Azharuddin, the then captain of the Indian Cricket team. Batting at 2 down, every time India would bat, I would pray to God to take away two wickets so that I could see him bat! Then something changed. Azhar got tangled in match fixing, along with Hansie Cronje- two people I really admired!

Indian Cricket was shattered. Tendulkar was given the captaincy- but he eventually stepped down citing how it affected his game. The captaincy was then given to the boy fondly known as The Prince of Kolkata. And it was just uphill for Indian cricket.

I will be almost 41 by the time IPL-6 ends. Twenty20 is a very demanding format. It would have been very tough for the body. To captain in IPL, there is a lot of responsibility. You are answerable to many questions. It's better to captain the country. At least, nobody would phone you and ask what went wrong.
Ganguly said, much to the sadness of the numerous fans across the globe.

His best partnership as captain was alongwith the then coach, New Zealand-er John Wright, who guided India to the finals of the 2003 World Cup in the hostile conditions of South Africa, eventually losing out to the Aussies. Wright was quick to comment on his retirement,
He is 40 and is doing a good job as a commentator. His direct, to the point comments reminds me of John McEnroe. I'm interested to see more of him. He is doing really well.
He already had the farewell from international cricket he needed, when he grabbed the crucial century in the victory in Mohali, which secured the series against Australia... He finished off in Nagpur, mimicking his great celebration six years earlier, after the Natwest series win- perhaps one of the greatest ever combacks in the history of cricket! I remember clearly that night, India were 140 odd runs for five, with Tendulkar getting out, and the commentator saying- this was on the cards! Little did he know what was about to follow.

From scoring a century on his debut to getting 18000 international runs, he might not have been the best cricketer, but he certainly was the most influential one. Probably the most aggressive of captains I have seen, he had the qualities to motivate youngsters to a level where they performed beyond their capabilities. Sehwag, Bhajji, Yuvraj- all of them dedicate their status to one man- Dada! He was also quick to defend his players and would take on the opposition, without fearing the consequences. His spat with Mohd. Yousuf, well, have a look yourself.

He scored a great knock of 183 against Sri Lanka in the '99 World Cup, taming Muralidharan on the way, eventually falling to him on the second last ball of the innings, but the innings that I enjoyed the most was the double hundred against Pakistan, his first and only one, which also involved a 300 run partnership with Yuvraj.

He retired from international cricket in 2008, having his best form in the year 2007, scoring 1106 Test runs at an average of 61.44, and 1240 ODI runs at an average of 44.28, becoming the second and fifth highest scorers in the year. He played five seasons in IPL, but never had a breakthrough season, albeit a few days at the top of the table with both the teams he captained.

Being a Bengali, he has always been worshiped in Kolkata. Cricket is their religion, and Ganguly their God. On his way to being the best skipper for the country, he has had his highs and lows, but Kolkata, and other Bongs for that matter, have never left his side.

Although not so evident, he is very superstitious, just like any other Bengali. He has changed his jersey numbers numerous times in his career, going from 00 to 99, with an array of numbers in between. He is very religious too, a devotee of Maa Kali, and a frequent visitor of Kalighat.

He was not an angel, and has had his fair share of controversies, but at the end of the day, he is going to be remembered as the one who changed the face of Indian Cricket! Did you know India has never lost a Test match in which Ganguly has scored a century? Only the second Indian after Gundappa Viswanath to achieve this distinction (considering batsmen who have scored at least 10 centuries in a career... Anyways, I would sign off with a few quotes on him.
On the off-side, first there is God, then there is Ganguly. –Rahul Dravid

Sourav’s greatest strength is his mind. He is hardworking – not only in the nets but also mentally. He bounces back. –Sachin Tendulkar

He is a wonderful batsman and definitely the best captain that India can have. So far he has surpassed my expectations and continues to do so. You rarely come across people like Sourav, he is different, he is special, there can be just one Sourav Ganguly. –Arun Lal

Ever since Sourav became the captain, I do not feel like a youngster in the team any more. Everybody is treated equally and Sourav himself is extremely approachable and a pillar of strength. Sourav stood by me when I was struggling. I owe a great deal to him for standing by me at the most important time. I can’t express my gratitude to him in words. –Harbhajan Singh

The Bengal tiger always has his tail up, ready to devour the opposition. –Navjot Singh Sidhu

Besides football, the only other game I ever took interests in was basketball, but never cricket. Sourav is the sole reason why I am a cricket lover today. He has worked very hard to reach the position he is in today and that makes him really admirable. –Baichung Bhutia

Sourav is really the best captain India has ever had. –Sunil Gavaskar

I have known Ganguly as a quiet lad, who always respected the seniors and lent an ear to any advice that came from them. This was the quality that impressed me most in this determined cricketer and I was not averse to giving him a break as early as possible. –Mohammed Azharuddin

Sourav’s best quality is that he has the ability to remain unperturbed even when he faces severe criticism. – Javagal Srinath

Ganguly is the new Steve Waugh of mind games. -Ian Healy

Outsiders don’t understand the feeling of our people, the kind of respect we have for these players. I think that he made a comeback and proved himself all over again made it clear that he should not have been thrown out in the first place. He made a point and proved people wrong -Kapil Dev

The Prince of Calcutta. Two of his special qualities are his intelligence and articulation, both of which have helped him immensely in the world of contemporary cricket. -Geoffrey Boycott

    Sourav is really the best captain India has ever had.–Sunil Gavaskar

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