His Last Bow

109 Comments

Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.

-Lazurus Long

In 2005, he was not ready to hang up his boots.

No doubt however that he deserved to be dropped.

But he definitely did not deserve to have the end-chapter of his career written for him.

That too in the midst of the humiliation and the unfounded allegations of injury-faking that Chappell and Kiran More had tried to muddy his legacy with, helped in no small measure by small-minded, crooked mediamen (I have said enough of these people in my blogs before), smarting from having cold-shouldered in the past by Sourav.

And he most definitely did not deserve to not even be given a chance for redemption (The chief selector famously said that as long as he called the shots, there was no way that Sourav Ganguly would come back).

Sourav however did get a chance when the selection committee changed and political re-alignments took place in the board. And he, in a manner that makes him the icon that he is, wiped black tar on the faces of his detractors (and not for the first time one may add) with a remarkable, fairy-tale comeback in which he played some of the most consistent and sparkling cricket of his whole career (including a master performance on a wicked pitch against South Africa).

Whether Ganguly as a man is still ready to go, of his own volition, I doubt. But he realizes, in the words of Edgar Allan Poe: “The life of the ebony clock has gone out”. Having been dropped from the Irani trophy, the very fact that he was allowed to come back into the Test matches was indication enough—-he was taken on the understanding that this was to be his farewell series, his last bow.

While some may argue, and I am one of them, that based on recent performance he should not have been the first of India’s greatest generation of batsmen to be put to pasture, it is undeniable that all four of them are now living on borrowed time. However things being as they are and with Narendra Hirwani a grand poo-bah now (folks may recall that Hirwani once accused Ganguly of having destroyed his “career”—if one sensational Test followed by a few mediocre ones and an appearance on a national integration song can be called a career) there was a high chance that things would get ugly and personal real soon. Given that risk , Sourav has wisely decided that this is one battle that he is better off sitting out.

After all, once “there is nothing left to try, there is no greater power than the power of goodbye”

So good bye it is.

It is strange this strong emotional connect we feel with sportsmen, a bond even stronger for those sportsmen you grew up with (for instance I do not think I will ever feel this kind of connection with Rohit Sharma or Suresh Raina simply because I evaluate them in a more “mature” way than I would do Dada or Sachin or as I used to Azhar). The ones for whom you put down your books, against your better judgment, the night before the exam. The ones for whom you stayed up all night, even knowing about the early train that needs catching. The ones whom you argued for (and against) with your friends over a cup of tea on rainy afternoons.

All these makes it that much difficult for us to let go of these childhood heroes in the same way as it is to throw in the bin an old beaten-up cockroach-eaten teddy bear or the first cricket bat you ever owned. Not so much because of Ganguly the person (after all I do not know him) or that bit of rickety wood with the picture of Sunil Gavaskar on it, but because of how much of yourself is in them. That is why we try to cling desperately to these relics from the past, by keeping the broken bat in the bottom of the trunk or by saying that surely he could have played another two years.

But one day the trunk does have to be cleaned and old players have to make that last walk into the shadows.

And all that remains are misty-eyes. And memories.

Memories of Sourav, thin and tense, languidly placing Mullally through the offside at Lords. Or of him in that magical autumn in Toronto when he single-handedly vanquished a far superior Pakistan team. Or of his carelessly nonchalant mega-sixes off Muralidharan. Or of him charging at an at-his-prime Shaun Pollock as he ran into bowl. Or of him leading from the front with that 144 in Australia after being written off. Or of him coming back gun blazing after his second wilderness, culminating in a Vishwanath-like performance on a minefield of a pitch against South Africa.

And most importantly memories of Sourav walking the earth with barely controlled aggression—the kind that made you stand up from your sofa and shout “Give it to those bastards”. Of never backing down from a fight. Of taking off his shirt in the holiest of holies, giving a metaphorical middle-finger salute to the Old Boys of Lords. Of uniting a team torn asunder by match-fixing and welding them into a team that, win or lose, would never give up.

If there is one enduring legacy of Dada, it is that he taught an almost perennially defeatist Indian cricket team “to believe” (For those who have sat through wimpy, gutless Indian performances through the 80s will appreciate even more the truth of this statement). You can see that reflection of self-belief in the new generation of players—-most of all in Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who while being very different from Ganguly in every respect, still has a lot of “Dada” in him.

Why just the Indian cricket team? Putting on my pop sociologist cap, let me say that Sourav’s place in history, more than as a cricketer, is because he embodied the “in your face” spirit of the economically resurgent nation of the 1990s-2000s— a young nation eager to throw off the Gandhian ideal of turning the other cheek, a confident nation no longer ashamed to pay back the opposition in its own currency.

In that respect, he was a symbol for his times.

Goodbye old friend. Go gently into the night.

{Images courtesy Times of India and Outlook India}

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109 thoughts on “His Last Bow

  1. Thanks Greatbong, was waiting for this report. Really well put! Although I am not an ardent Ganguly admirer, I´d miss him as well, as would a lot of other people. I hope he bows out with a bang though…

  2. wow…am I really the second one to comment..
    yep Dada will be missed..feel really sad but it had to happen sometime…He is a great example for others to follow and one of the all time greats this game has ever produced. Adios!

  3. Undoubtedly he is/was a great cricketer. he had a unquestionable attitude. Attitude wise I would rate him the first among the Fab Four. Skills wise I would rate him second i.e after VVS.

    Wish you the very best dada.

    raj kishore

  4. Awesome Post!

    It really did made my eyes misty!

    I am currently in US doing my undergraduation and I really want to see this series, I don’t mind being awake late nights…So can somebody please help me find an online link for live cricket matches….

    I desperately want to see it!

  5. I’m only 19, but in the first cricket match I ever saw (Natwest series in England) all I remember is Ganguly waving his shirt around at the end. He was the first cricketer I knew by name… It’s so strange that I will never see him play again… I think you made me cry a little, at least on the inside!

  6. as much as ganguly’s career i did not want this post to end as well…hope to see a longer one after the series ends. “Hopefully we’ll go on a winning note”

  7. Salutations to an icon, not just of cricket but (as you ended so appropriately) of a resurgent India that shed its demure image for an aggressive in-your-face attitude that never says or will say die.

  8. I have read so many articles on the same topic. But not even a single one connected to so well. Its one of the most beautifully crafted piece across the web.
    I remember the Toronto cup when we used to stay awake all night to watch Ganguly perform.
    Ganguly changed the team’s attitude.

  9. This whole things is still sinking in. But I read somewhere today, something that seemed to sum up and epitomize Dada’s career:

    “He was one person nobody wanted, and nobody could do without.”

    Having lived outside Kolkata for a pretty long time, in a land and among a people that believe that no Bengali can be a Sachin fan and every Bengali has to be answerable for Sourav’s failures – I really wish he goes out with a bang. I still remember when Sourav scored a hard-hitting half-century against Australia in early 2004, possibly in Adelaide, and almost saw the match through – some of my “fellow Indians” sulked, “Saala harami, man of the match leke nikal jaega”. The truth is that people like Kiran More, Lalchand Rajput, Narendra Hirwani, etc. etc. represent these people – and there are large numbers of these in our country. The very fact that Sourav not only survived, but actually thrived in such an atmosphere attests his greatness as a sportsman and leader.

  10. Greatbong, one day you could get a Nobel if you keep writing like this. You echo what I guess most of us have felt but could never have put to words – we are misty eyed because as Sourav walks off, there is a part of us he takes away with him … a part of us that was in him.

    What a sportsman, and a what a blogger.

  11. Excellent post, albeit a short one. Nostalgia is one hell of a sweet pain you cannot get enough of !
    I seriously feel that the 2 years time the seniors are asking is a just demand. Looking back ,it was total collective batting failure at sri lanka that brought such a momentum to this ‘anti senior’ sentiment. Had a couple of batter’s clicked, things would not have been this grim. The point to be noted is that the overhyped youngsters, also failed miserably against Mendis, in the ODI series in pakistan . Its a pity that one bad series is being held against the decade(s) of good work seniors have done. They deserve more respect than this.
    Besides, our media has blown all this out of proportion. Now half of indian team,ie the seniors, would be under undue pressure against the aussies. Luckily, Ganguly has redeemed himself of that. At a mighty cost though.
    As an aside, current australian team has 6 or 7 players over the age of 30, With uncle Hayden being the oldest. Will he be the most useful? You bet.

  12. You so rightly said, we all are misty eyed because with the departure of these players goes a part of us.These are the people who have been a constant fixture of our growing up, from the time I started watching cricket, these people have been the backbone of Indian team, it feels very strange to see a team devoid of them but we will have to get used to it!! After all they have to go one day leaving a blackhole of a void!!

  13. I can so relate to this article when it talks about staying up at night and getting up early for matches!!
    I went’t thorough similar emotions when Azhar retired and now have to go through it all over again.
    Having met Ganguly personally during the times when cricket was held in Sharjah I can say or a fact that there is no better gentleman than him… I mean it does take a lot to make nervous 16 years old feel as if youve always known him!! Would like to put in a part of my conversation with Ganguly that portray’s his gutsy character:
    QUOTE
    Me: Is Shoaib Akhtar really fast??? That ball most have hurt you?? (referring to the incident where Shoaib hit Ganguly in his ribs)
    Ganguly: Not really it didn’t hurt to much and he is not very fast either!!
    UNQUOTE

    DADA you will be missed!!!

  14. If he had waited two more days, Ma Durga’s bishorjon would have been an apt start to Saurav’s long goodbye. This makes pujo all the more sad (not being in Calcutta makes it sad already). Hopefully like Steve Waugh he will also leave a lot to his team to remember him by in his last series. I am now waiting for his autobiography (“Ganguly Khola Khuli”?). Hopefully he will answer the questions we all want to ask him about G-man & defend himself against those who have been running a constant whisper campaign against him.

  15. goodbye dada ..

    “The ones for whom you put down your books, against your better judgment, the night before the exam. The ones for whom you stayed up all night, even knowing about the early train that needs catching. The ones whom you argued for (and against) with your friends over a cup of tea on rainy afternoons.”

    so very true

  16. Thank you for this post. To me dada is not a cricketer. Cricket has just been a medium. He has inspired and contributed in shaping the young , rough and respectful new look of India. May be unknowingly. But unfortunately , like every revolutionary , dada had to face the usual blockheads who have made him bleed. I think cricket is not big enough anymore to cover the spirit of dada. I wish so badly , that he brings his spirit to a new and bigger platform now. May be state/national politics.

  17. hi Arnab if u r getting my comment then pls reply. actually i m not well versed with net so i don’t know that u r getting my comment or not. i am working with a leading hindi news channel in delhi and i am regular reader of your blog. so far i have not post any comment on any article but after reading your blog i want to comment on various subjet so pls registerd myself.

  18. Been a silent reader for the past 12 months. My first comment on this blog 🙂

    Everybody agrees that Saurav has been one of the greatest ODI bastmen ever..however, many people question his ‘greatness’ as a test batsman, drawing comparisons with Dravid and Sachin.

    Here’s what I feel:

    1.If Saurav had played at No.3 or 4 instead of No.6, he probably could have scored more test centuries.Unfortunately, Dravid’s great record at No.3 (average of 60) meant that both Saurav and Laxman had to play down the order most of the time.

    2.If we look at Saurav’s stats as a batsman before, during, and after he was a captain, we can see that he scored much better and much more frequently (in tests) when he was not captain.If Sachin or Dravid had longer stints as captains, surely their average also may have come down (going by the evidence).So, one can argue that Saurav sacrificed some of his batting stats, to be a better captain.

    I hope we are all fortunate enough to have our DADA continue his association with Cricket.To my mind, he will make a very good Coach of junior teams to start with or a Director of NCA, or at least an astute commentator on TV.And may be ten years from now, the chief selector or BCCI President !

    But right now, I hope he plays a couple of long innings against the Aussies.Lets savour his presence on the field one last time.

  19. “While some may argue, and I am one of them, that based on recent performance he should not have been the first of India’s greatest generation of batsmen to be put to pasture”……
    So who should have been the first ??

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  22. I’ve been a regular reader of your blog; and it’s been pleasure reading all this while. But this post has been the best, it really moves you and for me there couldn’t be more apt a tribute written for DADA than this.

  23. Winter of 1993. Misty morning in Kolkata. About 7:45am. On my way to class.

    A bus ticket from Golf Green to Park Street Rs 2.00

    A warm cup of tea from the street vendor Rs 1.00

    Stopping to watch dada hit sixes in the Xavier’s courtyard Rs 0.00 (I’m late for class)

    While Donna (in her Loreto uniform) tries to keep warm on the green benches :: priceless.

    There are some things money can’t buy …

  24. Actually i think Dada is not done from our lives yet….somehow i just cant imagine him having a quiet retired life…He will shake things up wherever he goes to…I think he may venture gradually into politics and cricket administration (same thing in India)…the best of dada may yet be to come…His biggest contribution may yet be on its way

  25. @rakesh:
    apart from those two gutsy fifties in Sri Lanka,and another fifty that he 90 that he scored in England in 2007,would you mind checking out Rahul Dravid record in test matches in the past 1 and a half year?
    If you match them you with Sorav’s,you might just get your answer,keeping in mind the words “recent performance” that GB mentioned in his blog.Mind you,I am not a die hard Sourav fan and like millions of others believe that Dravid was a far greater batsman in the longer version of the game than Sourav ever has been,though I too agree with the comment Kumar_N has filled in.
    Sourav was dropped from the Irani Trophy squad for his performance in Sri Lanka,which,in all accord was appalling.Look at Sachins performance in that series.If I am not mistaken Souravs aggregate was better than the masterblasters.I am not comparing,just giving you mere facts.The world knows what Sachin is,the greatest player ever on the Indian cricketing horizon.But he too failed miserably there.The word recent performance comes to the fore again.

    Sourav was dropped from the ODI side for ageing,bad reflexes,not so good running between the wickets.Agreed,regardless of the fact that he has won two man of the series awards and close to 1500 runs in ODI’s since coming back in late 2006.
    But how could you forget the tons of runs and sheer consistency that he has shown in the test arena when all the other celebrated seniors were failing as well?Effectively,the selectors dropped him only based on his performance in one series in Sri Lanka.A great example was set by evaluating an experienced and recently performing player on the basis of one series.I am sure you believe it will be followed with others.We shall see.
    Each of these seniors have been unrelenting servants of Indian cricket for years.They deserve every bit of respect that comes their way.Even more,when one of the greats have retired.We shoud not compare their records,performances,achievements.They are greats in their personal accord.We are proud to have all of them.I am sorry I did that.But do raise questions with prior information,or data,when you are talking performance.You might not like Ganguly,but then again buddy,even the recent record books say something else.
    cheerio.
    Hapy Durga Puja and Happy Dussehra.
    🙂

  26. ok now i got…it will take time to read this comment so pls be patience and belive me if you will read this you would’t be disappoint.

    arnab da main apne comment hindi (roman) main likhunga kyoki meri english utni hi achhi hai jitni achhi sonia gandhi ki english hai..isliye madam sonia or mujhe dono ko hi hindi ka sahara lena pad raha hai. vaise bhi har bande ko apne osi pahalu per dhayan deny chahiye jisme wo strong ho…tumne sourav wali apni post main likha hai ki ganguly ne ek confident nation ko doosron ki aankhon main aankhen dalkar ladna sikhaya isliye main hindi likhne main kyon sharam mehsoos karoon..vaise bhi jahan tak main samajh paya hoon is blog per aane wale zyadatar log hindi samajhte hain.

    ab main asli muddhe per aata houn.

    agar 7 oct ko sourav ke sanyas ke elan ke baad aap sab logon ne indian news channel dekhe honge to aapne gaur kiya hoga ki dada ke retirement per kai logon ne (jisme hamara channel bhi shamil hai) “khatm hui dadagiri” “dadagiri..ab nahi” jaisi headline di thi..,lekin mera manana hai ki dadagiri ab kabhi khatm nahi hogi kyonki dadagiri ab sirf sourav tak seemit nahi rahi..sourav ki dadagiri ab har us bande main aa gai hai jise khud per bharosa hai…jo janata hai ki wo duniya main kisi se kam nahi hai…jo janata hai ki agar khud per vishwas ho to duniya main kuch bho namumkin nahi. aur arnab da yakin karo is baat ke liye sirf indian team hi nahi balki har bhartiya ko sourav ko thanks kehna chahiye.

    arnab da tumhari post ke jis ek aur hisse ne mujhe sabse zyada impress kiya wo ye ki ham kaise kisi ek khiladi ya actor se imotionally attach ho jate hain. ye baat 100 percent sahi hai ki hum rohit sharma ya suresh raina jaise khiladiyo se waisa lagaav mehsoos nahi karte jaise sachin, sourav, dravid, laxman ya kumle se. aakhir ye wo khiladi hain jinhe humne tabse kehelte huwe dekha jab ham chote the ya teen age se gujar rahe the.ye wo waqt hota hai jab ham kisi cheej main logic nahi khojte balki wo jaisi hoti hai us cheej ko vaise hi enjoy karte hain. kisi ne kaha bhi hai ki intelligence or sochne samajhne ki zyada shakti kisi cheej ko enjoy karne ki hamari capecity ko kam kar deti hai kyonki tab ham har cheej main logi dhondhane lagte hai. is issue per main aapko mashoor shayar bashir badra ka ek sher sunana chahunga…

    bachhon ke masoom hathon ko chand sitare choo lene do
    2-4 kitabe pad lenge to hamare jaise ho jayenge

    arnab da mujhe lag raha hai ki mera comment orignal comment se lambi hoti ja rahi hai isliya abhi ke liye itna hi,lekin bhagwn se ek hi duva hai ki dada apni last series main at least 2 century or 2 half century banakar apne critics (kiran more & company )ke chehre per karara thappad marein. agar aisa hota hai to ganguly se zyada khishi mujhe hogi.

    haan. jaate-jaate is blog per aane walon se itna kehna chahata hoon ki yaron aap sab log to english main likhte hi ho…for a change hindi main likhne wale ka bhi swagat kar lo…waise ye darr bhi lag raha hai ki kahi is blog per raj thakrey aa gaya to hindi ko badhawa dene ke liye kahi maarpeet na kar de….aarnab da agar possible ho to aise kuch jugaad kar di ki main apna comment hini main post kar saku. thodi der pehle try kiya tha result dekh hi rahe ho. agar hindi font ho jayega to apne comments se poori thread main varitylane ki koshish karoonga

    banki phir kabhi

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  28. Do we realise that it’s more or less the end of cricket as we knew it?
    After these four-five, cricket will change.

    Grace and elegance and the ache for a perfect straight drive… replaced with free flowing nonsensical shots. The public will enjoy, but cricket itself will not.

  29. Yes, finally he had raised his tension free life. Now he can spend much more time with his cute baby and family with delicious dishes.He the great indian and WINNER ACHIEVEMENT Player in the indian cricket history. Good luck to him

  30. I can’t believe that it’s finally happened (Yes, I am in denial). It’s like a part of me is being laid to rest. For a generation of young Bengalis, starved of heroes and falling back on the Bengal Renaissance in search of bragging rights, Saurav “Dada” injected into our collective tired consciousness a megadose of heroism. Yes, we can do it and do it with an attitude. Your rational mind looks at those two digits in the age column (and the tons of statistics in the achievement column) and says – well, yes, makes sense, doesn’t it? But there is a part of you that wants to scream – “No, no, this beautiful journey just cannot end , not now at least.” It’s like learning the girl you secretly loved (but didn’t know what to say to) is getting married. What is there now left in this game for us GB?

    Yes, GB, it’s “the day the music died.”

  31. This perhaps is the start of the end of an era. I could relate to your post and all those memories came rushing in. Sixteen years. I must admit I was a little teary eyed when news broke. I have been a critic of his on a few aspects (More his blind supporters and than Ganguly himself, actually) but all the while, have been a fan as well – from the time he walked in to bat at Brisbane in Australia ’92 . I have greatly enjoyed his Cricket and amongst others, will remember him as the greatest six hitter of all time. There have been many who have hit long and hard but not with the ease and nonchalance Ganguly PUSHED the ball over the ropes. I will remember him as someone who read the game very well and knew exacty when to attack and when to slow down and milk the bowling. His ability to hit a boundary of the first ball of the over will remain etched in my mind. One thing I have never argued against was his credential as a captain, he truly was one of the best India has very seen. The cockiness and the Spirit was a first for an Indian captain and he set a precedent for others to follow.

    ODI Debut, Brisbane ’92— the silken century on test debut, Lords ’96 — his heriocs in Toronto ’97 and the memories having to stay up all night to watch the matches— the fighting hundred against Pakistan at Dhaka chasing 300 ,’97-98 — The thrilling assualt on Murlitharan and Sri lanka at the World Cup, Taunton ’99— the era where he piled on centuries after centuries clearly being the top ODI batsman—then the counter attacking 144 against a rampaging Australia, 03 —- the controversy on his dropping from the team– Finally, the stunning comeback with a career high double hundred..

    …these memories would remain with me as the highlights of his Cricket.

    Adieu Saurav…take a bow and go on high!

  32. Extremely well put Arnab. The most important thing that has come out of this is the timing of this announcement. There couldnt have been a better timimng than this. I just hope he goes the McGrath way by clinching the man of the series award for this series, as McGrath did for 2007 WC. That would be a cracker of a farewell. But then i would really appreciate if people understand the situation and dont ask for his return in case he performs exceedingly well. No one will deny the fact that anyone of Gilchrist Warne McGrath Martyn and Langer can easily walk into any test team in the world today. But they are revered remembered and respected for what they achieved during their period where they took the game of cricket to a totally different level. If it works out the same way with our cricketers then it’d be a great thing for Indian Cricket.

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  34. Amen to that.

    Sourav Ganguly will go down in history as the greatest ever captain of Team India. A man who proudly stood tall and taught his team how to win and in doing so -inspired successful Indian teams.

  35. This post actually did bring a tear to my eye. GB, you possess the power to make us laugh, think and cry and this is what makes you not just India’s best blogger but also one of the most powerful wordsmiths around.

    Now with respect to Ganguly, the timing of his retirement is perfect because as you pointed out, Hirwani is another More in the making. The axe was going to fall on Dada regardless of how he played. Of the Fab four, it was he who the selectors had been looking to get rid of for some time now and the reason for that has never been performance (it never is in India) but because of the regional agendas extant in the Board.

    Of the Fab Four, Laxman deserves to stay though he does look like he needs a walking stick to stand upright. Dravid has had a very poor last season and he drops a catch a match nowadays. He is now in the team purely because of the strong Karnataka lobby and because he had been Pawar’s “good boy” in 2005. Lesser the said about Sachin the better. I wonder why there is no outrage that Sachin’s place in the team seems to be taken to be his birthright in the same way that Rahul Gandhi has been given a mandate from the heavens to be the Prime Minister.

    Consider the following. After a terrible series in Sri Lanka, this man who is considered unfit to play in the Irani game is allowed to walk in to the Test team against the best team in the world without testing his match-fitness and his general form in any way. The reason for that is Pawar.

    The bar for Sourav has always been higher than the others and I daresay that he has realized that this is a game he cannot win. So what he has done is for the best.

    In the future, I would like to see Raina as Ganguly’s replacement in the line-up. Badrinath has missed several opportunities he has been given in the last month or so to provide a killer performance, Kaif is a disappointment, Yuvraj is borderline unstable and Rohit Sharma too erratic.

  36. Being ever so slightly cynical about the timing, this could Ganguly’s attempt at making sure that he goes out on his terms. In other words, given the manner in which Indian cricket selection has oscillated, form only tangentially being a factor, Ganguly perhaps acutely aware of all the talk of borrowed time etc., announced his retirement before the series to see if any of the selectors dare drop him for any of the four tests now. 🙂

  37. You really do have a great bond, great bong. And it evokes some respect in me even on being a staunch opposer of what Saurav had become in the last 3 years and how he was clinging and hopelessly trying to justify his pathetic form on past laurels.

    His short come back was a slap in the face of people like me, and I do not mind that one bit – as I have always believed Cricket in India is BIGGER than individuals.

    Prior to the comeback –

    Ganguly for all he had done was relentlessly trying to over exploit his stature to continue to stay over. He was an undisputed badshah of Indian cricket with Dalmiya in his days, and I am sure reigned like a king, and humiliated or gave no hoots to people who later came to power.

    The time for graceful exit had passed long back when he was still the king, and now BCCI was ruled by people whom he probably ridiculed or gave no respect to when he was in power (this is just my assessment of what might have happened – by extendin what I think of Mr Ganguly and the kind of person he is)

    But at the same time, there is no doubt he did put a face of resurgent India, he did bring that sense of belief that we used to lack in cricketers characterized as minnows – like – venkatpathy raju, s ramesh, venkatesh prasad .. and others alike

    There was no sense of spine, something so characteristically true for whole of India as a nation of yesteryears (and this still continues to be the case) but the cricket team – has marched on. Cricket team, is showing more than just signs of that stand, that attitude, that belief and power – to stare the opponents in the eye. The play to win, not just to play – with all the knowledge technique and books, and merely hope for a result.

    Dhoni is epitomizing this today, what makes him stand apart – is this winning attitude. For cricket, he is one of the most ugly cricketers to watch with no technique or knowledge to back his play – but the character. The grit, the determination to WIN and not just play.

    Keeping the genius of Sachin apart, even he falls short here. And Well.

    I am only glad Ganguly is now leaving, though I think his scores against NZ A and extreme pressure could have led to this timing, but I am hoping for youngsters to come into the shoes now. And I know they fall well short as of now, they might have technique, might have the spunk for twenty twenty – but they lack the confidence, patience, determination and grit required to handle test matches. But then, who was ganguly before he came into his own? A half dead rubber that he had become prior to his come back – is no better than someone who genuinely wants and is capable of atleast achieving it now.

    The ground is now clear for the willing and able to stop standing and wasting their lives on the fences – and march on. To stand up, and take it in their face – and show that India can produce more and better Ganguly’s. And tons of them.

    Dhruv

  38. Completely agree with the fact that we have special feelings for cricketers we have grown up with. Each time one of them retired I had a feeling of sadness over me : Gavaskar – Kapil …. and now Dada (Azhar not so much). After Sachin (got a feeling he will be the last) retires my hero-worship of cricketers will stop there.

    I hope Dada takes up the media instead of administration. Love to hear him talk.

    I am going to buy the willow package tonight. I am not missing this one.

  39. Mr Rohan

    You are politicizing Cricket to death.

    Give me a break if you think you have a replacement for Dravid, Sachin or Laxman in test matches with Rohit Sharma, or Raina or other duds we have out there.

    While there exists all corrupt practices there maybe out there in India with BCCI – the absence of a suitable replacement is something you and others like you who wear their magic glasses and just take ONE single stand and go on a rant explaining everything with it – need to give a thought to.

  40. Superbly written. It resonates to the core when you say – “for instance I do not think I will ever feel this kind of connection with Rohit Sharma or Suresh Raina simply because I evaluate them in a more “mature” way than I would do Dada or Sachin or as I used to Azhar). The ones for whom you put down your books, against your better judgment, the night before the exam…..”

  41. 25th February, 2004, Kolkata

    Interviewer (Senior HR Manager of an MNC) to me: And, now one final question,… Name a person, who has inspired you the most to be what you are today… and why…(expecting the obvious Vivekananda, Netaji and the likes) and getting ready with his routine set (of follow-up questions)…

    Me: Sir,…hmm, its SOURAV GANGULY. Needless to say, the big man was not prepared for this answer. But, how true and how candidly honest…The justification followed in short nervous bursts… At the end of it I noticed his very approving eyes, and yes, I had made it! Thank you DADA, and thank you very much indeed, once again.

    (The only other idol I have is Steve Jobs, but that can be taken up later)

    13th March, 1996. I was undergoing gruesome torture of an unrelenting Durgapur summer, ICSE and economics paper about which I knew as much as a toddler knows about the latest Pratt & Whitney jet engine. Oh yes, there was one more thing, a devastating World Cup semi-final at Eden Gardens. As a certain Vinod Kambli was walking out of the ground teary eyed, I loathed the team, and I loathed myself for being an Indian cricket fan. But things would change soon. 3 months later monsoons lashed West Bengal, bringing solace, and so did a certain 24 years old far away from West Bengal. He did not have rain drops (or tear drops), but only a piece of willow. It was pouring cuts and drives and of course runs. Back to back centuries where it mattered the most, ENGLAND. The lad was called SOURAV GANGULY. 4 years later he went on to become the captain of Indian Team. The rest of *his story* is history, which we all know.

    But, what will never be mentioned in those books, statistics, Wikipedia,… you name it… is the fact that this man single handedly carved and shaped an entire generation of teen agers who are in their 20s now. WE HAVE A HERO!!! And no, this time around I am not talking about Amartya Sen, Uttam Kumar or even the almighty Prabhuji for that matter. A hero in real life who has above all, unleashes his all pervading power to inspire, a revolution in itself. Poor Charu Mazumder, God bless his soul, he would have been jealous if he were alive. And Dada was born the same year he passed away, interesting, isn’t it? For many a bloke like me, he would live as the very essence of one’s soul, forever. You are the MAN, Dada, the only one, probably.

  42. These are the things that start make you feel that you are getting old. Sourav, Sachin and Dravid… once rest of the two are also gone, cricket wont be same for me.

  43. In a fine tribute to Sourav .. you could not stay away from the persecution complex of the average Bengali.

    Greg was against him
    More was against him
    Media was against him
    and now it is Hirwani’s turn (and you know this for sure, right Arnab.. or is this an unfounded allegation)

    Samajh gaye, aapka Dada is Ram ka avatar – no one can see his good and all of them are after him.

    He was a decent batsman, great captain and exhibited questionable judgement at times (which is fine). Please don’t demonize those who took tough decisions against him, because that will not make Sourav greater – it only diminishes his achievements.

  44. can’t agree more with u on this one bong… i have had many contrasting opinions on many of your articles but this one is right on…
    when u say “It is strange this strong emotional connect we feel with sportsmen, a bond even stronger for those sportsmen you grew up with”…
    i feel as @RUCHI “It resonates to the core” and @Amardeep Singh yaa cricket wont be the without these guys atleast for a generation who grew up seeing them, @aylamrin yes he did even shaped the careers of so many cricketers of this generation … zaheer,bhajji,yuvi,irfan,etc etc he supported them so strongly. @preeti yes we all luv (n at times hate a li’l bit) him too but right now we dont remember those ugly moments…

  45. Badhiya Post hai!

    Did feel a bit sad, but jaane ka gham nahi karna chahiye.
    Given Dada’s spirit, he will be back!
    I have heard rumours of a Dada V/s Didi (Mamata Banerjee) contest, fighting for a ticket to Lok Sabha, earlier next year, Thats mouthwatering stuff!!

  46. “On offside, there is god and then there is ganguly”,How true. I have seen teams having upto 5 fielders in that area to cut off his cover drive, but he could still pierce them with precision. Only ruse i had with him was in denial about his weakness about short ball and refused to fix his technique to counter that. That’s one reason why i wouldn’t place him in the same bracket as tendulkar. However he did bring a sea of change to the attitude of the team and it’s overall mental makeup. Adios dada, we will miss you.

  47. GB,

    I read something dissappointing, and I do not want to post it here – you have a great post in here – but this is exactly what infuriates people like me – and brings Ganguly’s shallowness out in the open.

    This is from a supposed legend whom I always believed was far too low of a human being for the percieved greatness that media and people like you were in awe of.

    What kind of a person goes on to sling mud like this when he is making the final good bye. This is sickening.

    “Everything is possible in Indian cricket. When Greg (Chappell) chopped me, TP Singh (of Railways and now with the ICL) was my replacement. Where is he now,” Ganguly asked.

    A sarcastic Ganguly then went on to say, “There are players who haven’t scored for last three series for India, even for the last one year. There are some who have changed their hairstyle more than they have scored for India.”
    The former Indian captain admitted that the decision to quit had hurt him emotionally.

    He went on to say that being on constant trial had hurt him emotionally. “I am bound to feel bad. I had to fight with my heart. If there is a gun to your head all the time, how long can you bear this? After all, I have played 400 matches for India. I have played badly in only one series. Yet every Tom, Dick and Harry is playing in the team.”

  48. Hi GB,

    Been an avid reader and secret admirer of your blog for a long time – you are even blogrolled in my blog though you dont know about it! But could not help leaving a comment on Ganguly.

    This is a great tribute to undoubtedly the BEST captain Indian cricket has ever had. I had written a post about this captaincy in 2002 hoping he would help India win the World Cup in 2003 (well, we almost did it!) – http://www.mouthshut.com/review/Saurav_Ganguly-23953-1.html

    @Siddharth Betala : You can subscribe to watch the entire series live at http://www.bowled.net for $12.

    @Dhruv : It is no secret that Ganguly wears his emotion on his sleeve. But I don’t recollect anybody having credited him with being tactful with his words.

    Cheers,

  49. Sourav was the man of iron, aptly he represents TATA steel. Men will come and cricketers will go, but sourav ( the bengal tiger) will reamin like a hero forever. hope india and the world will never ever see a partnership as beautifully crafted by ganguly and sachin . ganguly used to wear jersey No 1 and sachin No :99. together they were 100. india will miss them forever. i will personally miss dada forever.

  50. Someone once said about musical composers: “There is no doubt that the first requirement for a composer is to be dead”. Or in this case, retired (cricketer). This is not entirely true of (modern) Indian cricket, but does seem appropriate now. Posterity will tend to agree with Arnabda’s calling The Four as India’s Greatest Generation of batsmen. Thirty years later we will be talking about these four to our next generation…saying with barely concealed pride how fortunate we were to have seen them at play. Remembering our own childhood…when we were given the same stories by our senior generation…how Gavaskar, Vishi etc were simply The Best. Well, one of the Four will no longer be seen (after the series). I’m pretty sure the rest will follow suit soon…with the possible exception of Tendulkar who will probably stay till 2011. Nevertheless, we are at the crossroads of yet another generation of Indian cricket—the Corporate Professionals, led by the CEO M S Dhoni. They will, hopefully, become the darlings of the youth today—-just like the Gangulys and the Dravids were of ours. Here’s wishing the new India Inc. all the very best…and to Dada, to the Maharaj—“Here’s to you, Sir. This is your legacy; may you never be forgotten. Jolly good show, old chap! Walk now into the golden sunset!”

  51. Adios Dada.
    As a batsman, your prowess on the off-stump was legendary, especially since Indians had a reputation for being gifted on the leg-side but scared of anything pitched outside the off-stump.
    However, it is as India’s most successful captain that you shall be remembered. You had inherited a team of chokers who had a reputation for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, a spineless team with great individuals but no team spirit. Within the course of 2 years, you transformed them into a squad of world-beaters, able to take panga with the mighty Aussies and stop them twice in their tracks as they rampaged around the world setting records for consecutive test wins. More importantly, you put performance ahead of regional affiliations, supporting young cricketers without a Godfather in the selection committee even at the risk of incurring the wrath of the cricket establishment. Ultimately the power-brokers did have their revenge on you, choosing a dry patch in your career to unseat you from the team. But be not afraid Dada. More Pawar Chappell & Hirwani may have ousted you from the team, but you shall reign eternally in the hearts of your legions of fans. Whenever anyone talks of Indian cricket, its not Chappell and his middle finger which come to mind, not Pawar and his politicking, nor More and his shenanigans. The only image which floats to my mind is a hostel room in IIT packed with 200 cheering students and one small TV screen on which a southpaw was smashing a majestic 183 against Sri Lanka at Taunton.

    Jai Hind!

  52. What a batsman, what a leader, what a great character for people to role-model themselves on.

    Hari Om Dada. Thank you for the last 12 years.

  53. GB,

    A great tribute to someone who you really ardently admire. I am from the Gavaskar-Vishwananth-ChandraShekhar era so cannot really relate a lot to SG. Reading your blogs and understanding where it is coming from, I am sure he was one of the bestest. Unfortunately, if you try to stand up to the system, they label you as a rebel and want to crush you and defeat your soul. He went out in style, with his head held high. Thanks to him for all the excitement and glory he brought to the game.

    Cliff

  54. Dada as a captain changed indian cricket as no other cricketer has ever done before ..not sachin..not gavaskar..not kapil…because while these icons were in the team…yet the team never looked like it had resilience. Its great that there is a guy like Dhoni to take things forward and bring a new sense of superiority.

    Dada as a player…well…I will always miss his silken touches through the offside…and the lofty sixes..or the defiance in the face when facing bowlers….a big leap from the maharaja who was carrying water in 1992 in australia….

    Its the same like azhar his wristy play and ease in shots…there wont be another player with the same style and attitude…..

    the uniqueness of such ppl will be missed in cricket..and now all players seem to be of the same style..with the advent of T20…

    Hope Dada makes a couple of centuries..while going out…

  55. Thanks for the post. You’re right. He isn’t going happily. Read this. It’s an interview he gave to a Bengali paper, Aajkal, that has been reported by TOI.

    “I was tired of being humiliated again and again. I don’t want to play cricket at the mercy of others,” Sourav Ganguly said in an interview published in a Bengali daily on Wednesday. The interview was given right after the former India captain announced his decision on Tuesday to quit from all forms of international cricket after the India-Australia series.

    Pouring his heart out, India’s most successful Test captain and most successful left-handed batsman said that it was becoming increasingly difficult for him to put up with the constant humiliation. “It doesn’t make sense to play cricket like this. I have played enough cricket.”

    Ganguly had scored heavily in Test cricket after his comeback in 2006, barring the recent away series against Sri Lanka. He wondered why he was the only player being targeted all the time. “Everything is possible in Indian cricket. When Greg (Chappell) chopped me, TP Singh (of Railways and now with the ICL) was my replacement. Where is he now,” he asked.

    A sarcastic Ganguly then went on to say, “There are players who haven’t scored for last three series for India, even for the last one year. There are some who have changed their hairstyle more than they have scored for India.” The former Indian captain admitted that the decision to quit had hurt him emotionally.

    He went on to say that being on constant trial had hurt him emotionally. “I am bound to feel bad. I had to fight with my heart. If there is a gun to your head all the time, how long can you bear this? After all, I have played 400 matches for India. I have played badly in only one series. Yet every Tom, Dick and Harry is playing in the team.”

    When Ganguly was asked about choosing the Ashtami Day for making his decision public, he replied, “I thought of ending all miseries before Durga Puja. There’s too much confusion. People are double-faced and I can’t take it anymore.

    “I thought a lot before reaching this decision. I have also thought about my plans for the next one year. If this committee had come three years earlier, the situation would have been slightly better for me. I didn’t expect to be chopped from the Irani Trophy team. I was really hurt by this incident.”

    The earlier selection committee led by Dilip Vengsarkar had dropped Ganguly from the Rest of India squad. He was retained in the Test team by the new selection committee led by Krishnamachari Srikkanth.

  56. I still can’t believe it that Dada will play no more. With the TATA’s saying tata, Dada retiring & Durga pujo coming to an end time seems to be standing still.

  57. A nice tribute to our DADA!
    Its hard to imagine Indian cricket without the fab four, for that reason you said…growing up with them.
    Ganguly will forever be remembered as the man who made that decisive turn around of attitude in the Indian team. For that one achievement, there will be a million salutes for him as he walks back for one last time

  58. A sms joke doing the round

    Chaturthi te Nano gelo
    Asthamite Sourav
    Ake ake harie jachche
    Banglar sab gourab.
    Aar kichhu Ma na naye
    Tui tule ne sudhu Mamata ke
    Notun kore bachbo mora
    Bachabo ei Bangla ke

    Shubha Bijoya, anyway.

  59. Wish Ganguly was left just alone

    Not everybody has had a fairytale retirement like a Warne, McGrath or G Chappell…hope he’s given the respect that he deserves not measured by the final statistics which never is quite the proper yardstick , sometimes.

    Thanks GB for an excellent tribute to one of India’s finest cricketers

  60. My eyes went moist when I read about dada’s retirement. I am an ardent fan of dada for countless reasons, most prominent one being his ‘never say die’ spirit.

    Our infamous selectors made sure we don’t enjoy 2 more years of master class. Sourav once said, “Cricketers are not just fielders. A cricketer is a package”. And what a package, Sourav was!

    Will our selectors ever understand…

  61. The ‘totla’ Bhengy has spoken: Dilip Vengsarkar has said that Ganguly would get more than he has asked for … but after the series is over. I am wondering what he means by that.

  62. Nice touching article. However, was the Hirwani baiting neccessary? He has just been on the job for less than a month and in the the only team selected by his committee, Dada was included much to the surprise of many. Also Hirwani is a strange case and has been dropped mysteriously. In 2001 if one followed the reports it was a given that he would play. What transpired and why he was not played remains a mystery. His outburst must have been the result of frustration. One should not hold it against him. Just like TP Singh should not hold Ganguly’s indirect comment about him.

  63. At the time of posting this response, he has just come on the crease with that Johnson guy taking the wicket of Laxman and India in trouble.
    And this is straight from the commentary on cricinfo.com —
    ‘The script is set for a memorable performance by Ganguly…. or a dismal farewell’

    Great post Arnab, these players have been indeed an integral part of us .. only if we could stop time ..

  64. its well past midnight as i am sitting at the comp in my darkened room, pujo is over, nano has gone to the gujjus, and SG will soon be history. so depressing. this is like a scene from a bad art movie.

  65. Something that greatbong wrote in a very famous post in 2005

    ” a giant who had not been able to keep pace with the times. Somewhat like Sourav Ganguly.”

    I guess this was imminent, maybe the way the board did it didn’t seem right.But yes, dada was the one who got us that belief to win, absent in so many losses befoe.

  66. Hi Dhruv,
    Out of all your comments I loved the following part,

    “His short come back was a slap in the face of people like me,”

    Man, you are honest.Doesnt it ring any more?

  67. Abhinab

    For the last few innings he has played, yeah its ringing again.

    And dude, I support his position in the team even now if he continues to play like this.

    I sure am impressed. He is not a ODI player anymore but test – he’s flooring ppl like me left right and center. Commendable.

    Its only when he doesnt perform for extended period of time and expects recognition and royal treatment for his past laurels. Thats when he sucks. And sucks bad.

    Dhruv

  68. Pingback: Goodbye Dada « Outlandish Musings | Rehab G. Chougle

  69. GB,

    Something from Dhoni after beating australia –

    Asked what would be the special memory for him in this match, Dhoni said, “It’s Sourav’s 7000 Test run. Since he is playing his last series, he is just going out and enjoying the game, playing without any pressure. That’s how you want to see him play. He is very different from others.”…

    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/never-saw-aussies-getting-so-outplayed-dhoni/376098/2

    Also I hope you saw Dhoni coming together with Ganguly at the end of the match, and handing him one of the stumps with a soft respectful smile …

    I have not seen such a gesture out in the open … it was something great

  70. Arnab da,

    Kiwi-der deshe eshe Aussie der harano dekha hullat mostir byapar. In fact these guys were supporting India in a big way and there were celebration all around. Though, ami mone mone chaichilam Bangladesher bhaiy-erao jeete jak.

    Anyway Dada has been bright yet again. As usual..

  71. With every day that passes, the reality of him retiring hits me harder. By the end of his last innings in November, I think I will be inconsolable.

    HARI OM DADA

  72. WOW, wot an article. It has evoked so many memories, and it still hasn’t sunk in. Dada is retiring. Truly, he’s d face of young emerging India, who’s every bit as independent, as potent, with remarkable might as any other country. I salute Ganguly and congratulations to the author on having written this peice.

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  74. The fighter departs at last….I always knew that you will come up with such a gem to honor your hero…It’s the least he deserves from you..

  75. Bengalis – The Most Hatred Ones…

    Everyone hate Bengalis. Anti-Bengalism is such a strong feeling among others. When I see these things, I can recall few words
    once I heard from my teachers, my parents in my childood “We are first Indians, then we are Bengalis”.
    These words have become so meaningless nowadays and this hurts me the most. When I hear regional words from my non
    -Bengali but Indian friends, I feel so embarassed that all my childhood teachings about united n glorified India takes a
    shakening. I feel part of a disintegrated part of India, named as “Bong” or “West Bengal”.
    That time I feel I am not an Indian, to be specific I feel I am a Bengali, to be more specific I feel I am a Kolkatan. I have
    never ever treated any non-bong person in my life with a biased attitude. I feel as long as a person has a good heart can always be
    my friend. But Alas, the heart has its reasons that reason does not know. I cant go and change people’s heart suddenly.
    I have always believed “A person’s world is only as big as their heart is”. So, if my heart is only that of a Kolkatan,
    my world will be only Kolkata, If my heart is that of a Bengali, my world will only be Bengal, if my heart is that of
    and East-Indian, then my world is Eastern part of India, and if my heart is that of a true Indian, then my world is unified India.
    And I want my world to be the “whole India”. I know that my unity with all people cannot be destroyed by regional boundaries.

    Why Anti-bengalism is a strong feeling and my counter-views.

    1) Some people gets ill-treated from Bengalis and getting tired of their selfishness they fill Bengalis are worst possile person ever!
    But to cross their views, I can just mention one thing for them that selfishness is not a Bong trait, its an human trait and one can similarly
    treated in any parts of India. Its an human nature and has nothing to do with a person is bengali or not. You shouldn’t punish others for your own choices.

    2) As per great Bong “Anti-Gangulyism is often a surrogate for anti-Bengalism in a mixed company of Indians watching cricket.
    The Sourav Ganguly issue makes me more acutely aware of my identity than any other
    thing simply because anti-Gangulyism is strongly followed by and often driven by anti-Bengalism—
    a surprisingly powerful and undeniably perceptible sentiment I have felt more than once in my life in the company of fellow Indians”. Its fairly true.
    Some ppl dont like Sourav Ganguly thats why they dont like us. This is not fair.
    Yes, we Bengalis love Sourav aka Dada. Instead of needlessly beating the Bengali angle, it is worth making the point that
    the way you have been treated is a slap on the face of all cricketers who have contributed significantly to the Indian cricket etho.
    No matter what other people say we love our prince of Kolkata and we will love him till the end of our life. He will never retire from our hearts.
    We adore Sourav and we are proud of that because we respect other players as well. We love DADA because he has brought more glory to Indian criket than to Cricket Association of Bengal(CAB). We are a soccer-loving state and
    when a cricketer from our state makes to the national level and makes India proud, I think there is no harm in loving him so dearly as long as we dont
    disrespect other players. We respect Sourav and we respect Sachin, Laxman, Dravid, Dhoni too.

    3) We cant speak Hindi fluently but we are the one who readily accepted Hindi as our national language and atleast try to converse in Hindi
    ,how bad it might sound, but I know we try our best. And just to cite a fact , lot of successful Hindi singers, music composers are from Bengal.
    We never say West Bengal is only for Bengalis. We never say we will not allow people from other states to work here. West Bengal is just a part of India and
    we love to have people from every parts of India here. I just want to see a day when Kolkata will be as dear to them as it is to us.
    When a bomb-blast happens in Delhi, my heart cries for my Indians. I feel I have lost my countrymen. I never try to find out whether he / she is from Bong or not.

    4) There is always a complain that Bengalis are bit lethargic n ppl often complain about our laid-back attitude. This is true to some extent.
    Yes we are lethargic but since last 5 years, our work culture has improved dramatically and drastically. We are changing and will definitley change for better.
    One thing is there we are very happy and satisfied with little things in life. We are content with small earnings which leads us to have a better and happy life.
    Yes,it is true we afraid to take risks but it is also true that we know how to lead a risk-free peaceful life where we dont have loads of money
    but have lot of happiness and hope which will never die. Kolkata is changing rapidly and we Bengalis are changing too and we cannot make our state better without help of all of you.

    I know the list will go on and if I try to make a similar list for some other regional community, I know I may succeed eventually. But I dont want to do that in my life
    as I believe I am born as an Indian and will live my life as an Indian forever. I know we Bengalis are not superior in all repspects compared to others but
    we as a nation can be at its superior best if we can try collectively. But alas, when that day will come. When the day will come, youngsters of our nation will
    forget these regional boundaries and will think beyond. When the day will come when I will re-iterate the teachings which I had once received in my childhood
    “We are first Indians, then we are Bengalis”. Can we think beyond that and say to the world ” We are not Bengalis, we are not Marathis”… we are Indians.
    If 300 Sparatans can fight the mighty Persians in 480 BC, cant more than 100 crores Indians living in 21st century fight these minor regional boundaries and
    put our hands together to fight more larger issues affecting India. If we cant do that, then I can say one thing to hell with our modernism,
    to hell with our future, to hell with our economic growth !!!

    Gautam Budhha has rightly said ““Unity can only be manifested by the Binary. Unity itself and the idea of Unity are already two”. May be in this multiplexed(sorry
    multi complexed), disintegrated , non-united India, any theory on unity has lost all its significance. Long live DADA!!! u may the source of inspiration who will
    tie our country together as u had tied together the Indian cricket team once.

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