October 8, 2008

The prince with the common touch

Ganguly's enduring legacy will be that of a leader who took Indian cricket out of its feudal past
36



When he was golden: Ganguly gets his hundred at Brisbane in 2004 © Getty Images

In the end, the timing of the retirement was as impeccable as the strokes through cover with which he captivated the game's aficionados in his heyday. Sourav Ganguly's career will be defined by the games he played, and didn't play, against Australia, and he will relish the chance to be part of an Indian side that has the opportunity to equal the feats of the team he led so famously seven years ago. As last stands go, this could be a memorable one.

Assuming he plays all four matches, Ganguly will finish with 113 Test caps. After his maiden tour with the Indian team - to Australia in 1991-92 - ended with an unfavourable report from a manager who would subsequently go on to be the BCCI president, even one cap must have seemed a distant dream. When we look back at the furore that accompanied his selection for the tour of England in 1996, it says more about the mindset of the time than it does about Ganguly the cricketer.

All the insinuations and scathing articles were indicative of a rotten system that could rarely see beyond the cricketing hotbeds of Mumbai, Delhi and Karnataka. If you were from Bengal or Tamil Nadu, or an even lesser state, the chances were that you weren't even a blip on the radar. In many ways Ganguly's second coming and century on debut at Lord's were to herald a shift away from parochialism, a sea change that was completed during his years as captain. These days, if no one bats an eyelid when a boy from Rae Bareilly or another from Kochi dons the India cap, much of the credit must go to the Bengali who became a pan-Indian hero.

Ganguly was no great tactician in the Ian Chappell or Mike Brearley mould, but like Sir Frank Worrell he was able to create a coherent symphony from discordant notes. Much like the West Indies of the 1950s, the Indian team that Ganguly inherited contained many talented individuals with no real sense of collective purpose. With him leading, they came together under the Indian standard, and ushered in what must surely rank as the golden age of Indian cricket.

Though his name will forever be associated with the stopping of Steve Waugh's juggernaut in 2001 and the run to the World Cup final two years later, my favourite Ganguly memory will always be that glorious 144 at the Gabba in 2003.

The days leading up to the Test had been full of innuendo about chin music and Ganguly being the weak link in the line-up. "That's typical of how Australia play their cricket; they play it tough and use their media," he said with fleeting smile on the eve of the game. "Even Steve Waugh gets short-pitched deliveries, and he has got 32 hundreds."

When probed further about the short-ball barrage that he could expect, Ganguly smiled again and said: "When you play cricket, you don't expect everything pitched up to you. We who have played Test cricket for a longer period of time have received short deliveries. I do not think about it. Fortunately or unfortunately, they don't leave the newspaper under the door in my hotel."

 
 
Much like the West Indies of the 1950s, the Indian team that Ganguly inherited contained many talented individuals with no real sense of collective purpose. With him leading, they came together under the Indian standard, and ushered in what must surely rank as the golden age of Indian cricket
 

When he came out to bat in a game severely disrupted by rain, India were reeling at 62 for 3. By the time he departed, having earned grudging respect even from the Fanatics who had seen Andy Bichel, the local hero, taken to the laundromat, India had a healthy lead. Waugh and all of Australia knew that Ganguly was in no mood to blink first.

That innings, full of glorious cuts and languid drives, was emblematic of Ganguly the batsman, who always got a raw deal because his numbers didn't quite stack up next to the other three in a famous middle order. Given how much the captaincy diminished the batting returns of more lauded batsmen like Michael Vaughan and Rahul Dravid, it's only fair to wonder how good a player Ganguly might have been without captaincy's ball and chain.

The figures are revealing. In the 49 Tests in which he led India, he averaged 37.66, well below what you would expect from a batsman of his quality. In 60 other games, he scored at 44.60. That he has made more runs than any other Indian batsman since his return to the Test fold in 2006 merely makes you think of what might have been.

The Ganguly tale has its most turbulent moments in the days when Greg Chappell was India's coach. When he choose Chappell, going against his team-mates' preference for Tom Moody, Ganguly couldn't have imagined the impact it would have on his career. There were mistakes on both sides and it seems churlish to apportion blame, and the most appropriate way to remember the whole sordid episode is as an example of cultural disconnect.

The last year of Ganguly's captaincy saw a marked decline in his batsmanship and raised questions about his ability to galvanise the side, especially in the wake of a withdrawal from the Nagpur Test that stunned even his confidantes in the dressing room. When the captaincy was wrested from him, both his attitude and appetite for the game were questioned. But like Geoffrey Boycott in the days before a triumphant return from self-imposed exile in the 1970s, Ganguly spent the months on the periphery fiercely determined to challenge accepted stereotypes.

When he did return, with a cursory handshake from Chappell at a tour game in Potchefstroom, the sense of purpose was palpable. His doughty half-century helped inspire a famous victory at the Wanderers, and even as India squandered a series-winning chance in Cape Town, he was the only one to bat without fear and hesitancy perched on his shoulders. Reduced to a foot soldier, the former general had rediscovered his appetite for the battlefield.

He batted with elegance and poise in England a few months later, and was magnificent in the home series against Pakistan and South Africa. There were no Brisbane-like heroics in Australia last time round, however.



Little did Ganguly foresee when he put his weight behind Chappell's candidacy for the coach's job, the bitterness that lay ahead © AFP

Given his domination of spin bowlers over the years, the failure in Sri Lanka was surprising, especially given that he was the one specialist batsman not to be dismissed by Ajantha Mendis. That he was repeatedly dismissed by Muttiah Muralitharan, who he had tamed so memorably on his home patch at Kandy in 2001, suggested that both the eyes and reflexes were slowing down. With the curtain having been wrenched down on his one-day career in Australia earlier this year, you wondered if the reservoir of desire had begun to run dry.

After more than a decade at the top Ganguly has nothing to prove. He's come a long way, this favourite son of Kolkata, the "God of the off side" who went on to become India's most successful captain. During the journey he established himself as one of the greats of the one-day game, the exorcist of India's overseas hoodoo and a maverick who upset Waugh and also the old suits at Lord's with those shirtless antics on the red-brick balcony.

It's somehow fitting that the last words will possibly be written in Nagpur, the venue that came to symbolise the Rubicon of his days as a leader. Four years on, he's part of a group that could reclaim modern-day Test cricket's ultimate prize, the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Whether he achieves that or not, the legacy is secure.

Many may have described him as a prince, wrongly as a snooty one, but first and foremost he was the leader with the common touch and the man responsible for dragging Indian cricket out of its feudal past. MS Dhoni and many others who subsequently emerged from what Arvind Adiga, the Booker Prize nominee, described as The Darkness, have a lot to thank him for.

Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • betaal on October 10, 2008, 20:43 GMT

    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. Wondering what Dravid's is!

  • BlueManGroup on October 10, 2008, 16:58 GMT

    For old memories sake, I was watching the highlights of the Aussie visit back in 2000-01. Scene set in the final test, Bhajji is on song, and in walks Shane Warne. Now, I am sure you guys agree that Warne is a tough cookie as much as they come in test cricket and you can see who but Saurav fielding at silly point. If you really pay attention, Saurav being the captain volunteered to stand at point blank position and he is chatting with Warne. You can see fear, yes fear in Warne's eyes as he is taking guard and Saurav is relentlessly clubbing him down with "words". Next ball, Warne is out and you can see Saurav celebrating as if it was of his own bowling. Now, dont get me wrong, I am not condoning trash talk, but you give what you get. And most importantly it takes a lot of man to stand up for you and your team mates. Saurav lead by example and he set the tone for a new look India. Don't forget! he shook up the entire system. Saurav was born to lead this team and did not happen by chance

  • striker_force on October 10, 2008, 5:33 GMT

    I both agree and disagree with Rafael Nadal's comments. He did want to stay in the team, didnt want to open on green tops and can only recollect ONE series where he failed ! I dont care about comments he is making about others. I liked his daredevil captaincy and his drives but he is not an athlete and thats v. important in today's professional cricket. Neither he nor the others of the 'Fab five' are so fabulous anymore. Perform or perish should be the mantra.

  • sudagra on October 9, 2008, 17:31 GMT

    I agree with most of the comments posted by Rafaelnadal. I thought of giving him nice farewell but he has ruined himself by bringing Dravid and Dhoni (indirectly) in the picture and saying that he did not want to be humiliated. He was a feudal mindset person. If anyone said yes to him that was fine otherwise be ready to fqace his ire. However great Saurav was, he always wanted to play at any cost. He played with the careers of Mohammed Kaif and Laxman noticeably. He tried doing that to Sachin as well but in the process failed himself miserably and then during World Cup 2003 had to bring Sachin back to opener's slot. He may claim himsefl to be a team man but a team man does not run away with the green top pitch. Whatever respect I had for him is finished with his recent outbursts. It was because of his wrong judgement (electing to field first) that India probably WC of 2007. He was in the team only because of Dalmia & he bit on his back as well.

  • fight_it_out on October 9, 2008, 14:51 GMT

    Dada has been the greatest thing to happen to Indian cricket after Sachin. His iron-clad determination and will to fight has been an inspiration in all walks of life for me n many other dada fans. As a test batsman, he more than made up for his shortcomings with his aggression and his will not to lose or give up and keep on fightng till the very end. As a one day batsman he comes only after Sachin and as a captain he has been second to none. His aggression and attitude changed and rebuilt the Indian team from a bunch of meek losers to the second best team in the world after the match fixing saga. He always backed the young players, got out the best results from them and inspired others with his performances(like Brisbane,Toronto,Taunton,Nairobi),taught us how to look in the eye of the australians and fight it out.Alone Dada has been responsible to change the face of Indian cricket over the last decade.I am feeling really hollow at this time. Thanks for the memories and we salute you !

  • rafaelnadal on October 9, 2008, 13:39 GMT

    OUT OF ITS FeuDAL PAST! He was as feudal as can be - so let's not even go there. And he's now making statements that some players have changed their hair styles more often than they have scored runs, and digs at other senior players who haven't scored. And of course as ever, he can only recollect ONE series in which he hasn't scored runs! Typical. Less said about the man the better. He's someone who attempted to stay on in the team at any cost, the games he played with Laxman's career are very clear to those who really wish to go beyond skin deep. Many of his test wins came against Zim and Bang. and he often found excuses not to play Aus when the going was bad. He never won us a series in ENG, AUS, NZ, not even in WI and SL. But of course he'd like us to think back on the TESTS he won overseas, never mind that we either lost the series or drew them. Ganguly is the most selfish cricketer India ever produced and his recent outburst about hairstyles and other jibes just eriterates that.

  • michalite04 on October 9, 2008, 2:41 GMT

    He allowed other senior players like sachin and dravid to play freely. enough said.

  • Raman01 on October 9, 2008, 2:36 GMT

    It is not surprising to see that Dada will be the first one to go in Fav 5, not because of the so-called vulnerabilities, but becos he had always put the Team first. In India, if you do that, u get only tomotoes in return. Looks at people like Sachin (like CPI, want to be in team but w/o accountability) and Dravid (relinquished captaincy immediately once he felt the danger for his batting avg.) and they are hailed as great. This is the attitude of Indians in general and hence the country is in disarray and will always be. Sourav is the greatest of the Fav 5 since he is the one who imbibed the word `Team', sowing the seed for the term `Term India'. Wishing Sourav all the best for his final series and his life after cricket.

  • sinfuldips on October 8, 2008, 23:13 GMT

    I am surprised and disappointed by the turnaround of the media regarding this whole thing. 3 days ago everyone was disappointed and thought its taking a backward step to include dada, now after announcing his retirement, he is the best thing in the whole world and people are hailing him as God. Please no need for this u-turn. Saurav is a darling of our hearts and we don't need any felicitations from any so called pundits. I urge cricinfo,to lead the way. Even the picture in this article says, "when he was golden". As a reader our comments are scrutinized, I urge cricinfo to do the same with article writers, please give the man his due, for the first time in 12 years during his swansong. He still is golden and will always be. We can harp on and on about records in the past 12 months and how Saurav is always on the chopping block while some others get away with murder, but this is the time to salute the great man. Dada we will miss ur charisma and flair, ur the prince of our hearts.

  • Ratlers11 on October 8, 2008, 23:12 GMT

    He was the greatest captain India ever had and one of the best left handers ever. He was the man behind the phoenix life resurrection of indian cricket after match fixing scandal that rocked world cricket. My salute to the greatest son of the soil and a true Indian. Sourav, We thank you for your great contribution to Indian cricket. Today Indian team plays the way it does just because of you. You have changed the attitude and set new standard for Indian cricketers to follow.

  • betaal on October 10, 2008, 20:43 GMT

    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. Wondering what Dravid's is!

  • BlueManGroup on October 10, 2008, 16:58 GMT

    For old memories sake, I was watching the highlights of the Aussie visit back in 2000-01. Scene set in the final test, Bhajji is on song, and in walks Shane Warne. Now, I am sure you guys agree that Warne is a tough cookie as much as they come in test cricket and you can see who but Saurav fielding at silly point. If you really pay attention, Saurav being the captain volunteered to stand at point blank position and he is chatting with Warne. You can see fear, yes fear in Warne's eyes as he is taking guard and Saurav is relentlessly clubbing him down with "words". Next ball, Warne is out and you can see Saurav celebrating as if it was of his own bowling. Now, dont get me wrong, I am not condoning trash talk, but you give what you get. And most importantly it takes a lot of man to stand up for you and your team mates. Saurav lead by example and he set the tone for a new look India. Don't forget! he shook up the entire system. Saurav was born to lead this team and did not happen by chance

  • striker_force on October 10, 2008, 5:33 GMT

    I both agree and disagree with Rafael Nadal's comments. He did want to stay in the team, didnt want to open on green tops and can only recollect ONE series where he failed ! I dont care about comments he is making about others. I liked his daredevil captaincy and his drives but he is not an athlete and thats v. important in today's professional cricket. Neither he nor the others of the 'Fab five' are so fabulous anymore. Perform or perish should be the mantra.

  • sudagra on October 9, 2008, 17:31 GMT

    I agree with most of the comments posted by Rafaelnadal. I thought of giving him nice farewell but he has ruined himself by bringing Dravid and Dhoni (indirectly) in the picture and saying that he did not want to be humiliated. He was a feudal mindset person. If anyone said yes to him that was fine otherwise be ready to fqace his ire. However great Saurav was, he always wanted to play at any cost. He played with the careers of Mohammed Kaif and Laxman noticeably. He tried doing that to Sachin as well but in the process failed himself miserably and then during World Cup 2003 had to bring Sachin back to opener's slot. He may claim himsefl to be a team man but a team man does not run away with the green top pitch. Whatever respect I had for him is finished with his recent outbursts. It was because of his wrong judgement (electing to field first) that India probably WC of 2007. He was in the team only because of Dalmia & he bit on his back as well.

  • fight_it_out on October 9, 2008, 14:51 GMT

    Dada has been the greatest thing to happen to Indian cricket after Sachin. His iron-clad determination and will to fight has been an inspiration in all walks of life for me n many other dada fans. As a test batsman, he more than made up for his shortcomings with his aggression and his will not to lose or give up and keep on fightng till the very end. As a one day batsman he comes only after Sachin and as a captain he has been second to none. His aggression and attitude changed and rebuilt the Indian team from a bunch of meek losers to the second best team in the world after the match fixing saga. He always backed the young players, got out the best results from them and inspired others with his performances(like Brisbane,Toronto,Taunton,Nairobi),taught us how to look in the eye of the australians and fight it out.Alone Dada has been responsible to change the face of Indian cricket over the last decade.I am feeling really hollow at this time. Thanks for the memories and we salute you !

  • rafaelnadal on October 9, 2008, 13:39 GMT

    OUT OF ITS FeuDAL PAST! He was as feudal as can be - so let's not even go there. And he's now making statements that some players have changed their hair styles more often than they have scored runs, and digs at other senior players who haven't scored. And of course as ever, he can only recollect ONE series in which he hasn't scored runs! Typical. Less said about the man the better. He's someone who attempted to stay on in the team at any cost, the games he played with Laxman's career are very clear to those who really wish to go beyond skin deep. Many of his test wins came against Zim and Bang. and he often found excuses not to play Aus when the going was bad. He never won us a series in ENG, AUS, NZ, not even in WI and SL. But of course he'd like us to think back on the TESTS he won overseas, never mind that we either lost the series or drew them. Ganguly is the most selfish cricketer India ever produced and his recent outburst about hairstyles and other jibes just eriterates that.

  • michalite04 on October 9, 2008, 2:41 GMT

    He allowed other senior players like sachin and dravid to play freely. enough said.

  • Raman01 on October 9, 2008, 2:36 GMT

    It is not surprising to see that Dada will be the first one to go in Fav 5, not because of the so-called vulnerabilities, but becos he had always put the Team first. In India, if you do that, u get only tomotoes in return. Looks at people like Sachin (like CPI, want to be in team but w/o accountability) and Dravid (relinquished captaincy immediately once he felt the danger for his batting avg.) and they are hailed as great. This is the attitude of Indians in general and hence the country is in disarray and will always be. Sourav is the greatest of the Fav 5 since he is the one who imbibed the word `Team', sowing the seed for the term `Term India'. Wishing Sourav all the best for his final series and his life after cricket.

  • sinfuldips on October 8, 2008, 23:13 GMT

    I am surprised and disappointed by the turnaround of the media regarding this whole thing. 3 days ago everyone was disappointed and thought its taking a backward step to include dada, now after announcing his retirement, he is the best thing in the whole world and people are hailing him as God. Please no need for this u-turn. Saurav is a darling of our hearts and we don't need any felicitations from any so called pundits. I urge cricinfo,to lead the way. Even the picture in this article says, "when he was golden". As a reader our comments are scrutinized, I urge cricinfo to do the same with article writers, please give the man his due, for the first time in 12 years during his swansong. He still is golden and will always be. We can harp on and on about records in the past 12 months and how Saurav is always on the chopping block while some others get away with murder, but this is the time to salute the great man. Dada we will miss ur charisma and flair, ur the prince of our hearts.

  • Ratlers11 on October 8, 2008, 23:12 GMT

    He was the greatest captain India ever had and one of the best left handers ever. He was the man behind the phoenix life resurrection of indian cricket after match fixing scandal that rocked world cricket. My salute to the greatest son of the soil and a true Indian. Sourav, We thank you for your great contribution to Indian cricket. Today Indian team plays the way it does just because of you. You have changed the attitude and set new standard for Indian cricketers to follow.

  • whocareswhowins on October 8, 2008, 22:51 GMT

    Sourav Ganguly has sometimes, nay, mostly, evoked negative responses from Englishmen. And I absolutely love it! I love the fact that he was able to get under their skins, wind them up,etc etc. The bare-chested shirt-waving on the Lord's balcony must have made quite a few of them 'pucca sahibs' splutter (with impotent rage)! Boy, did I love it. Always shall remain one of my cherished moments. Need a few more characters like Dada around.

  • CricketCrazy19 on October 8, 2008, 21:54 GMT

    If we're to thank a man who revived Indian cricket, it has to be Dada. Who before him had a nerve to see sledgers in the eye? Who before him had a nerve to take his shirt off at Lords? Who before him showed India that they can slain mighty Australians? Who before him showed that Indians can win anywhere and everywhere? A true fearless leader and a great person. I wish he scores a century in every inning and make an ending like never before...

  • gargaldo-dada on October 8, 2008, 18:12 GMT

    Want to know how much BCCI respects Dada???? Just go to the official BCCI website- bcci.tv and you wont find a single felicitation of the great man....Now that is wat u call Respect isn't it????

  • ketan13 on October 8, 2008, 16:51 GMT

    Ganguly will be missed .Thank you Sourav ! He took the reins of a team in deep trouble after the match fixing scandal .His flamboyance and arrogance provided India with something different .He showed grit on difficult pitches and his 75* on return or 98* in Sri Lanka or the 87 that he made in Kanpur earlier this year are perhaps some of his best innings though they often go unnoticed.

  • Farce-Follower on October 8, 2008, 16:29 GMT

    You can add another 5.00 to Ganguly's average, considering the harassment and ordeal he has been through. Ditto for Dravid and Laxman. These guys have always played with treacherous selectors and media hounding them.

  • Aditya_mookerjee on October 8, 2008, 16:09 GMT

    It is particularly heartwarming, that players like Sehwag, and Harbhajan Singh, are presumed to be close and loyal acquaintances to Ganguly. It is Ganguly who brought them into the team. Sehwag was not considered as an opening batsman, before Ganguly considered him as one. Harbhajan Singh flowered, under Ganguly's captaincy. I feel happy, and warm inside, when I consider the services of the Famous Five (no pun intended), to Indian cricket.

  • cricket_first_everything_next on October 8, 2008, 15:57 GMT

    I quote the writer,

    "After more than a decade at the top Ganguly has nothing to prove."

    Hats off DADA, the true LEADER of Indian Cricket!!!

  • leftie_raj on October 8, 2008, 14:43 GMT

    You forgot to mention Dada's top contribution. After Azhar had broken the hearts of true cricket lovers, and we had begun to view all cricketers with suspicion (no matter how talented, could you really trust that they were playing for a bet ?), Dada took over the reigns, and never for a moment was a question raised on his dedication to the cause of Indian cricket.

    We should all be ever grateful to him for that, no matter what his long list of indiscretions and pig-headedness might be.

  • SebV on October 8, 2008, 14:14 GMT

    Ganguly brought to the team the desire to win. We did have a few quality players before him but they played for themselves and not for a winning cause.

    Winning the game is much more valuable than individual performances - scoring runs or taking wickets/catches. In that aspect Ganguly has been a valuable asset than anybody else during his period. And he wasn't an average player either - he was/is good, very good. Not for no reason did he become the 'God of offside'. I remember placing friendly bets that whenever Ganguly stepped out, it was a six and I won all the time.

    Ganguly is a winner + player. Beats every Indian player hands down.

  • Gilliana on October 8, 2008, 14:14 GMT

    To me, Saurav Ganguly was India's greatest cricket Captain. Those that have followed the game know how this young man has contributed to Indian Cricket. Looking to the future, it is hoped that Saurav Ganguly will be made the chief selector for he has the acumen to smell talent. Should this happen, it will not be long before he assembles a young side of world beaters. I really feel sad that he is leaving for he still has some cricket in him but the decision to leave had been inevitable for some time. As an Australian, I have followed the politics of Indian cricket for more than sixty years, and I am sorry to say that the most unfortunate part of Saurav was that he has the wrong surname. It is a fact that Bengal players had always been discriminated against and SG is no exception. The selectors have turned a blind eye on Tendulkar over and over again even though it is now very evident that whenever Tendulkar fails he hides behind his injury. The time has come for him to go too.

  • nktpkd on October 8, 2008, 14:07 GMT

    Dada is one of the greatest and courageous players India had, he was often scrutinized by media and all than enyother Indian players, even if he scores a hundred the media says he consumed more balls. In ODI he was a better player than Sachin untill he passed 10K runs, his strike rate and average was higher than sachin, he took less number ot innings than saching to pass 7K 8K and 9K in ODI. I think the captaincy took a toll on him and he never got the opportunity like other players in the team, think about 1992 -1996) in tests he always batted #5, 6, 7 a position that is hard to score more runs than Sachin, Dravid, or Laxman, he often had to bat with tailenders.

  • Percy_Fender on October 8, 2008, 14:05 GMT

    Saurav Ganguly's aristocratic background is the reason he could cock a snook at the Waughs and the Flintoffs. Flintoff had likened Saurav to Prince Charles after his Lancashire stint.Sugesting that he was snobbish and had a superior air about him.But then that attitude was needed to negate the impact of Australian aggression and ugliness in the name of mental degradation. That was the only way he could instill self belief in the team. The Laxmans and the Dravids excelled because of this tremendous self belief under Saurav Ganguly. After all when Sachin was captain before Saurav, these players were there too. That is Saurav Ganguly's legacy to Indian cricket.To me he was like Douglas Jardine who despite his Ivy League background, could bring out the best from a lesser privileged miner like Larwood to get the better of a collossus like Bradman. His decision to quit is well timed. When he has realised that his prowess is on the decline. Like Pataudi retire after his eyesight deteriorated,

  • VivaVizag on October 8, 2008, 13:20 GMT

    When it comes to giving it back to the opposition, first there is God and then there is Ganguly. Dada, we miss you!!

  • inxia on October 8, 2008, 12:02 GMT

    Sourav Ganguly could have stood up to Steve Waugh by being better than Waugh's level of sledging and bullying. Instead, Ganguly turned up late to the coin toss and generally sank his level of sportsmanship below Waugh's. He could have stood up to the snobbery at Lord's by simply ignoring them and watching India become the new world cricket power. Instead, he 'flipped the bird' from the balcony when his team won a one-day series. Comparing Ganguly with Frank Worrell because he gave a group of cricketers a common focus is the most simplistic brushstroke. Worrell demanded equality with dignity. Ganguly, for all his obvious talent with the bat, was no better than a vigilante leader. Indian cricket is too great to make a virtue out of Ganguly's disrespect for anyone but himself.

  • gargaldo-dada on October 8, 2008, 10:59 GMT

    What Ms Anitha Regunathan said is spot on. He fought fire with fire. But people in India itself started calling him arrogant. He never cared about it. That's a MAN 4 u. People go gaga over Dhoni....but it was Dada who laid the foundation of 'Youngistan'. No one can reject that

  • Archisman on October 8, 2008, 10:09 GMT

    A most enjoyable article. Thanks you.

    The one innings of Ganguly that I will never forget is his 149 against South Africa at Nairobi in 2000 (ICC Trophy). The way in which he was executing the short-arm pull to despatch a bowler of Shaun Pollock's class to the ropes was to be seen to be believed. A stunning knock from someone whose leg side play was quite pedestrian when compared to his finesse on the off side.

  • v-factor on October 8, 2008, 9:05 GMT

    Ganguly is one of the grittiest individuals in cricket I have ever seen. True that his batting prowess was questioned before the ignominous Chappel fiasco but the man vindicated his status as a fighter by coming back to the team in 2006. I fully agree that it was his captaincy that ushered Indian Cricket into its golden era. The performance of players like Yuvraj and Zaheer who were bred under him speaks volumes of the legacy he has left behind. I bow to the prince who played on his own terms and will now leave on his own terms.

  • Mina_Anand on October 8, 2008, 8:15 GMT

    I would like to reproduce here, extracts from my piece "The Continuing Ganguly Saga" published in CRICKETNDTV.com

    "Some tag the word 'Parochial' to him Ironical that memories can be so dim

    Wasn't it Ganguly-the 'new broom' (Who swept away zonal politics) Exciting 'Indian' talent he did groom

    Talent that he picked and backed A fighting spirit in the team was packed

    This took Indian cricket to new heights Putting up some of the great fights (Remember Eden Gardens...Barbados...Headingley...Adelaide...Chennai...Lords-NatWest?)

    Some more chat-that he detests 'Chin Music' in the Tests

    May I refer all to the Brisbane Test The Aussie quicks at their furious best

    'The Wall' and 'The Little Master' fell Sounding for the tour a death knell?

    But out came striding the Captain bold Unleashed his repertoire manifold

    Leading from the front at Brisbane Treating the Aussies with disdain

    Thus at the 'Gabba'of bounce and pace Ganguly-to a 'setting-the-tone'century did race.

  • PottedLambShanks on October 8, 2008, 7:54 GMT

    I think Ganguly's legacy will be, one of utmost irony at his expense, unfortunately. In his relentless belief that Indians should not be suppressed by the people he perceived to be snooty Englishmen, he himself became the man known around the world as Lord Snooty.

  • zamir_74 on October 8, 2008, 7:40 GMT

    Please respect our seniors for what they have done for the country. They deserve it. I hope Ganguly scores big and helps India retain the trophy. Ganguly is a true fighter, he has the killer instinct. Praise him or abuse him, but you cannot ignore Ganguly, he is that type of a person. I wish him best in his future endeavor.

  • zamir_74 on October 8, 2008, 7:40 GMT

    Ganguly was one of the greatest captains of not only India but also in the cricketing world. He changed the attitude of Indian Cricket with his bold decisions and fighting spirit. He was a team man, he was always behind the juniors such as Yuvraj and Harbhajan and to a lesser extent Zaheer Khan. If there was no Ganguly then there would be no Yuvraj, I beleive so. But my comment for our Indian media and public is that now since we have received the news of retirement from Ganguly every one is hailing him and paying tributes. But please think deep in your hearts did you ever support him during his playing days especially in the last 2-3 years. The answer is a big NO. This is the mentality of Indian Cricket. No doubt I am Indian too, but we become emotional by few antics played by the media. Suddenly we find ways of bullying cricketers.

  • zamir_74 on October 8, 2008, 7:39 GMT

    Dada deserves the respect and a graceful exit, so how ever he is in the team it is his last chance to give it back to the AUSSIES and especially to the selectors. The selectors ruined his career all the time but he always fought his way back in the team. Just watch his factline when he was in for the ODI series in Australia in 1992 from then on he has made 3 comebacks.That is not a joke. Be it because of Jagmohan Damiya or what, he had the fire in his belly to be back. Its easy to make a comeback at a young age rather than at a 34. BEST OF LUCK.

  • Rajesh. on October 8, 2008, 4:40 GMT

    The intense specualtion by the media and the subsequent pressures have already consumed Saurav Ganguly as he has announced his retirement at the end of the forthcoming Test Series against Australia.

    And now Ricky Ponting is trying to take advantage of it by claiming that the "Fab Four" will feel the pressure because they are in the twilight of their careers. Ponting is no younger either but the difference is he has the support of the Australian media unlike the Indian media who for want of new things to write about everyday keeps writing (read speculating) whateve will sell copies.

    In this regard I'm a bit disappointed even with Cricinfo for many a time coming up with sensational and speculative headlines, like for example the VRS rumour that was doing the rounds.

    It would be better for Indian Cricket if the media stops all this & if not support, at least not speculate. Cricinfo can lead the way by showing more respect & support for our legends. Everything "begins at home"

  • AnithaReghunathan on October 8, 2008, 4:36 GMT

    No other Indian player or captain had the courage to acknowledge the fact that Steve Waugh isn't God; that Lord's isn't some holy shrine. Just because the Aussies play great cricket, doesn't mean they own the game. They don't need to be worshiped, or given a red carpet treatment. We don't have to bow our heads in their presence. Only Dada made us believe it is not a sin not to flinch. He made them blink first. He made them ordinary players with very very loose tongues. He gave birth to the present eye for eye, tooth for tooth attitude of Team India. There's nothing wrong in being bad, when being bad is necessary. And what Sachin_Rahul_Sourav_and_VVS_legends says is right. There will never be another Ganguly.

  • SRT_Jammy_Dada_VVS_and_Anil_legends on October 8, 2008, 3:50 GMT

    No matter if you are a critic of Ganguly or not, it is time to stop the character assassination that has been occurring in the media and simply acknowledge what a wonderful career this really has been. He is one of the greatest ODI batsmen of all-time, and while his Test record is not as impressive, is still very good. This does not even take into account his stint as captain, which was undoubtedly the most successful of any Indian captain. He inspired an aggression and determination in Indian cricket that had simply been non-existent during Azhar's lackadaisical tenure. Even if you did not like the manner in which he behaved, you have to admire the bloody single-mindedness with which he approached cricket. I have loved watching Dada, and may he receive the send-off he truly deserves. Many may be clamouring for his exit now, but I believe that the cliche "You don't appreciate what you have until it's gone" will apply. And no, I'm not from Bengal, but from Bombay. All hail the Prince!!!

  • surya_adi on October 8, 2008, 3:42 GMT

    most indian batsman, ganguly included, played with a lot of insecurity on their minds about their position in the team. it is for the powers that be whose job it is to make players feel secure, so that the players give their best. no one can perform with a damocles sword hanging over their head. like dileep says, with the talent ganguly had, one always wonders what could have been.

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  • surya_adi on October 8, 2008, 3:42 GMT

    most indian batsman, ganguly included, played with a lot of insecurity on their minds about their position in the team. it is for the powers that be whose job it is to make players feel secure, so that the players give their best. no one can perform with a damocles sword hanging over their head. like dileep says, with the talent ganguly had, one always wonders what could have been.

  • SRT_Jammy_Dada_VVS_and_Anil_legends on October 8, 2008, 3:50 GMT

    No matter if you are a critic of Ganguly or not, it is time to stop the character assassination that has been occurring in the media and simply acknowledge what a wonderful career this really has been. He is one of the greatest ODI batsmen of all-time, and while his Test record is not as impressive, is still very good. This does not even take into account his stint as captain, which was undoubtedly the most successful of any Indian captain. He inspired an aggression and determination in Indian cricket that had simply been non-existent during Azhar's lackadaisical tenure. Even if you did not like the manner in which he behaved, you have to admire the bloody single-mindedness with which he approached cricket. I have loved watching Dada, and may he receive the send-off he truly deserves. Many may be clamouring for his exit now, but I believe that the cliche "You don't appreciate what you have until it's gone" will apply. And no, I'm not from Bengal, but from Bombay. All hail the Prince!!!

  • AnithaReghunathan on October 8, 2008, 4:36 GMT

    No other Indian player or captain had the courage to acknowledge the fact that Steve Waugh isn't God; that Lord's isn't some holy shrine. Just because the Aussies play great cricket, doesn't mean they own the game. They don't need to be worshiped, or given a red carpet treatment. We don't have to bow our heads in their presence. Only Dada made us believe it is not a sin not to flinch. He made them blink first. He made them ordinary players with very very loose tongues. He gave birth to the present eye for eye, tooth for tooth attitude of Team India. There's nothing wrong in being bad, when being bad is necessary. And what Sachin_Rahul_Sourav_and_VVS_legends says is right. There will never be another Ganguly.

  • Rajesh. on October 8, 2008, 4:40 GMT

    The intense specualtion by the media and the subsequent pressures have already consumed Saurav Ganguly as he has announced his retirement at the end of the forthcoming Test Series against Australia.

    And now Ricky Ponting is trying to take advantage of it by claiming that the "Fab Four" will feel the pressure because they are in the twilight of their careers. Ponting is no younger either but the difference is he has the support of the Australian media unlike the Indian media who for want of new things to write about everyday keeps writing (read speculating) whateve will sell copies.

    In this regard I'm a bit disappointed even with Cricinfo for many a time coming up with sensational and speculative headlines, like for example the VRS rumour that was doing the rounds.

    It would be better for Indian Cricket if the media stops all this & if not support, at least not speculate. Cricinfo can lead the way by showing more respect & support for our legends. Everything "begins at home"

  • zamir_74 on October 8, 2008, 7:39 GMT

    Dada deserves the respect and a graceful exit, so how ever he is in the team it is his last chance to give it back to the AUSSIES and especially to the selectors. The selectors ruined his career all the time but he always fought his way back in the team. Just watch his factline when he was in for the ODI series in Australia in 1992 from then on he has made 3 comebacks.That is not a joke. Be it because of Jagmohan Damiya or what, he had the fire in his belly to be back. Its easy to make a comeback at a young age rather than at a 34. BEST OF LUCK.

  • zamir_74 on October 8, 2008, 7:40 GMT

    Ganguly was one of the greatest captains of not only India but also in the cricketing world. He changed the attitude of Indian Cricket with his bold decisions and fighting spirit. He was a team man, he was always behind the juniors such as Yuvraj and Harbhajan and to a lesser extent Zaheer Khan. If there was no Ganguly then there would be no Yuvraj, I beleive so. But my comment for our Indian media and public is that now since we have received the news of retirement from Ganguly every one is hailing him and paying tributes. But please think deep in your hearts did you ever support him during his playing days especially in the last 2-3 years. The answer is a big NO. This is the mentality of Indian Cricket. No doubt I am Indian too, but we become emotional by few antics played by the media. Suddenly we find ways of bullying cricketers.

  • zamir_74 on October 8, 2008, 7:40 GMT

    Please respect our seniors for what they have done for the country. They deserve it. I hope Ganguly scores big and helps India retain the trophy. Ganguly is a true fighter, he has the killer instinct. Praise him or abuse him, but you cannot ignore Ganguly, he is that type of a person. I wish him best in his future endeavor.

  • PottedLambShanks on October 8, 2008, 7:54 GMT

    I think Ganguly's legacy will be, one of utmost irony at his expense, unfortunately. In his relentless belief that Indians should not be suppressed by the people he perceived to be snooty Englishmen, he himself became the man known around the world as Lord Snooty.

  • Mina_Anand on October 8, 2008, 8:15 GMT

    I would like to reproduce here, extracts from my piece "The Continuing Ganguly Saga" published in CRICKETNDTV.com

    "Some tag the word 'Parochial' to him Ironical that memories can be so dim

    Wasn't it Ganguly-the 'new broom' (Who swept away zonal politics) Exciting 'Indian' talent he did groom

    Talent that he picked and backed A fighting spirit in the team was packed

    This took Indian cricket to new heights Putting up some of the great fights (Remember Eden Gardens...Barbados...Headingley...Adelaide...Chennai...Lords-NatWest?)

    Some more chat-that he detests 'Chin Music' in the Tests

    May I refer all to the Brisbane Test The Aussie quicks at their furious best

    'The Wall' and 'The Little Master' fell Sounding for the tour a death knell?

    But out came striding the Captain bold Unleashed his repertoire manifold

    Leading from the front at Brisbane Treating the Aussies with disdain

    Thus at the 'Gabba'of bounce and pace Ganguly-to a 'setting-the-tone'century did race.

  • v-factor on October 8, 2008, 9:05 GMT

    Ganguly is one of the grittiest individuals in cricket I have ever seen. True that his batting prowess was questioned before the ignominous Chappel fiasco but the man vindicated his status as a fighter by coming back to the team in 2006. I fully agree that it was his captaincy that ushered Indian Cricket into its golden era. The performance of players like Yuvraj and Zaheer who were bred under him speaks volumes of the legacy he has left behind. I bow to the prince who played on his own terms and will now leave on his own terms.