November 6, 2008

Indian cricket

An upper-class streetfighter

Sourav Ganguly rejoices after reaching his 16th Test century, India v Australia, 2nd Test, 2nd day, Mohali, October 18, 2008
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The retirement of India's former captain Sourav Ganguly will see cricket lose one of its most controversial characters, says David Hopps on the Guardian website.

Ganguly was that rare thing: an upper-class streetfighter. He was an autocrat, not averse to chicanery to protect his power, but grant him the power and he was an avid proclaimant of India's cricketing emergence. Tendulkar made his point by weight of runs; Ganguly galvanised India in whatever way he chose, a symbol of a brash, emerging economic power. No Indian Test captain has been more successful.

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How many effigies have been burned during Ganguly's career? So many that he must be the only cricketer who can be measured in his negative effect on global warming. They must have hacked down a forest for Chappell. Others to suffer were a chief Indian selector, Kiran More, his one-time protector, and the former BCCI president, Jagmohan Dalmiya, who to much mirth he claimed had played politics with his career (both were masters at it), and any number of ICC match referees.

But Ganguly, the prince of Bengal, brought pride to an Indian region not famed for its cricketers. His extra-cover drive was a thing of beauty, his lash over gully as crafty as a batsman could get, and his skittishness against the short ball absorbing. He captained India with a vigour and authority that allowed Tendulkar to free himself from virtually unbearable pressure and concentrate on making runs.

Mathew Varghese is sub-editor (stats) at Cricinfo

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