Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The Ganguly Way

To the man who dared to play out the scenes from a local derby at the oh-so-proper Lords balcony.
Bengal’s favourite son turns  42 today.

As an exponent of a generation that grew up in awe of his batting, along with his captaincy, I find it irrestible to admire Sourav Ganguly. Never mind the fact that he was only the third person in ODI history to amass 10,000 runs. Never mind he still shares the best ever World Cup partnership of 318 runs.  Never mind again that he is one of only three players to ever achieve a treble of 10,000 runs, 100 wickets and 100 catches. Notwithstanding the pile of records that follows his name, “Dada” was just a joy to watch on a cricket pitch. Better than God on the off-side, and a daredevil captain to boost, Sourav Ganguly is the reason millions flocked to their TV screens, and thousands bought match tickets for an Indian match.

However, Sourav’s legacy transcends beyond his abilities with the willow. Ganguly was the man who stood up and shattered the image of the “meek Indian cricketer”, and to an even greater extent the image of the “soft” Bengali. Under Ganguly, the team – which everyone believed could win only in their own backyard – started daring and winning matches on fast unfamiliar pitches abroad. Sourav will forever remain in the hearts and minds of cricket lovers for instilling in the Indian team a fighting spirit that had previously been lacking.

Ganguly’s greatest legacy was perhaps his role in the development of young budding cricketers. The young promising men he included in his team went on to contribute immensely to the Indian cause. Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, Gautam Gambhir and current captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni all have Dada to thank for the blossoming of their careers. Working as a mentor to these young players, he led a blend of enthusiastic youth and experience to an unprecedented  World Cup final in 2003. India may have lost the game on that day, but Dada’s youth army captured the hearts of millions. Sourav gave the team a spine, made them roar away from home, and made sure the youngsters were secure about their futures.

Ganguly remains one of the most loved cricketers on the planet.

How can you stop loving your first hero, your leader, your teacher? Dada may not take stance anymore, but he continues to receive the same amount of adoration from his fans, including yours truly. Sourav Ganguly was not just a cricketer. Sourav Ganguly was a phenomenon. A superhuman who showed the path of constructive defiance. Sourav Ganguly was a warrior. Sourav Ganguly was a motivator, a vicious, uncompromising leader.

Here is a small tribute on your birthday, Dada. Thank you for the unbelievable entertainment right through my childhood years. Thank you for the grit and determination you have always portrayed on the pitch. Thank you for rescuing Indian cricket and placing it high on its pedestal. Thank you for those cover drives. And above all, thank you for building a team capable of bringing success to the nation.

“Khola maathe, bishwo fele ghaashe chute jawa
Khola choole elomelo khele bhishon hawa,
Chokh jole, daante daant chepa jetar khide
Shuchogro jomi Judhho kore jeta kisher jede?
Joto baar tumi agune purechho hoyechho khati shone
Hajaro cheshtaye muchhte pare ni ora tomar naam,
Egiye giyechho, joriye dhorechho khujechho pran taja
Shomoyer shathe bujhiye diyechho tumi Moharaja!”

Shubho Jonmodeen, Dada.

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