Peter Roebuck
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Former captain of Somerset; author of It Never Rains, Sometimes I Forgot to Laugh and other books

The many sides of Sourav

Sometimes a rebel, often a creative force, always in the thick of it, Ganguly has been a many-layered character, and his career an astonishing one

Peter Roebuck

November 6, 2008

Comments: 57 | Text size: A | A



Sourav Ganguly seemed on the surface to not take things too seriously, but the fires of competition burned hot in him © AFP
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Gangles was fun. Every now and then a fellow feels like tearing off his shirt and waving it around like Mick Jagger with a microphone. Of all places, Sourav Ganguly responded to the urge at Lord's, holiest of cricketing holies. So much for decorum. He might as well have burped in St Paul's. Every now and then a fellow feels an insult coming on. Ganguly was rude to Steve Waugh, captain of all Australia, the mightiest foe of them all. So much for deference. Typically it started as a misjudgment and became an amusement that turned into a strategy.

Ganguly did not mind directing the fire at himself. What could they do? Bowl bumpers? Already every fast bowler worth his salt had tried to knock off his head. He had no lordly lineage but he walked and talked as he pleased, not exactly trying to provoke opponents but unwilling to deny himself. He did not give much ground to the modern game, with its fitness and diving and running between wickets and morning training and all that rot. It was brave of him to remain apart, for it left him exposed to ridicule, forced him to justify himself. But Ganguly was not scared of the pressure. Perhaps he needed the extra pressure the way a veteran car needs a crank. And, just in case, he had the populist touch. If Anil Kumble was the colossus, Sachin Tendulkar the champion, Rahul Dravid the craftsman, VVS Laxman the sorcerer, then Ganguly was the inspiration.

It has been an astonishing career. Some men prefer to follow a predictable path and their stories tell of a slow rise to the top and an equally measured decline. To that end instinct is subdued, contention avoided and risk reduced. That has been altogether too dull for Ganguly. Throughout he has toyed with his fate, tempting it to turn its back on him so that once again he could surprise the world with a stunning restoration. Something in him rebelled against the mundane and the sensible. He needed his life to be full of disasters and rescues, and comebacks and mistakes and memorable moments. To hell with the prosaic. At heart he is a cavalier, albeit of mischievous persuasion.

Taken as a whole, his contribution has been a triumph. It is no small thing for a boy from Kolkata to make it in Indian cricket. Till then local players were regarded as soft touches, and Ganguly himself was so categorised in his early days. Whereas the Mumbai-ites had risen through a rigorous system and the outstation boys had fought every inch of the way, the Bengalis seemed to lack the toughness required to make the grade. Ganguly changed all that. Indeed it was one of the many tasks he set himself. Always he has pitted himself against presumption and always he has prevailed.

Heavens, he even managed to time his departure as sweetly as ever he did any cover-drive. Before the series began he disarmingly announced that these four Tests against Australia were going to be his last. At a stroke his announcement put an end to speculation that he might lose his place. Ganguly is shrewder than he pretends. Just for a day or so it seemed that he might not get his way as reports spread of indiscreet remarks supposedly made about Robin Uthappa's hair, but Ganguly disowned the comments, even the splendid one about "every Tom, Dick and Harry" playing in the team. And so, once again, he lived to fight another day. Mind you, he let them hang in the air for 72 hours! That was typical Ganguly: at once the hero and the villain.

 
 
Throughout he has toyed with his fate, tempting it to turn its back on him so that once again he could surprise the world with a stunning restoration. Something in him rebelled against the mundane and the sensible. He needed his life to be full of disasters and rescues
 

To some extent his manner has distracted attention from his cricket. Above all he has been a fine player whose career tells of determination and perseverance. As a batsman he played numerous influential innings. Often he was at his best on the game's greatest stages (including Lord's, where he first made his mark) or when the chips were down. Then he could concentrate. In less stressful times his batting could be flashy, with shots vaguely executed and the outcome left to the gods. Ganguly was not a collector of runs but a match player. Such men cannot be judged only in terms of tallies.

As captain he was an uplifting figure prepared to stand up for his players. It is easily forgotten that his captaincy started with Indian cricket at its lowest ebb. Hereabouts India was extremely lucky to have at its disposal a superb group of senior players untouched by those dire events, and a new captain free from the insecurity and greed that had undone his predecessor. Accepting money from grubby sources was, one sensed, beneath Ganguly. He just did not move in those circles or think along those lines.

Not that Ganguly alone deserves all the credit for India's swift recovery. Around him could be found a resolute and principled bunch of cricketers. They needed someone to blow the bugle and Ganguly obliged. That is leadership. Alone among the cricketing nations, his Indian side repeatedly troubled the Australians. Under his leadership the team prevailed in England, daring to bat first on a Headingley greentop. Indeed the very image of Indian cricket changed - a process started by Sunil Gavaskar and completed by Ganguly and companions. No longer does anyone talk about timidity against fast bowling or languishing overseas. Driven in varying degrees by pride and professionalism, the now-departing generation acknowledged these weaknesses, confronted them and corrected them.

Always Ganguly was in the thick of it. No matter how often he was discarded he bounced back. No matter how frequently his cricketing obituary was written he found a way back into the team. At times he seemed to relish the headlines forecasting his imminent and final downfall. He is not by nature defiant. It is too petty an emotion. Just that he liked to prove doubters wrong. Criticism spurred him on. Otherwise he was inclined to become lethargic. He revelled in his reputation as an independent man who lived and played by his own lights.

He is not a man easily pinned down. Although it is never wise to suppose a man can be caught in a single adjective, it is much easier with his contemporaries. To watch Rahul Dravid or Virender Sehwag or Anil Kumble play is to know a large part of them. Ganguly liked to keep people guessing. Perhaps it is his background. Is it possible that the son of a wealthy businessman might have had some reservations, even embarrassment, about becoming a professional cricketer? Deep down Ganguly belonged to the old days, not so much of aristocracy as of ease. He cast himself as a sportsman, a player of games, and on the surface did not take it too seriously. And yet the fires of competition burned hot.

In some respects he has been a rebel, against the expectations of his origins, against dutiful modern ways, against the patronising of his country. But he is too large a figure to be motivated by anything as shrivelling as anger. Rather he has been a creative force in the game. As a batsman he was full of neatly executed strokes. It was not in his nature to brutalise the ball. Nor was he a poet caressing it with a delicate touch. Neither extreme attracted him in the slightest. Instead he stroked the ball, guiding it between fieldsmen or lifting it over their heads. It looked effortless but some men like to hide the strain.



Ganguly was at his most effective against the Australians, and his Brisbane hundred in 2003 showed he wasn't as fragile as he seemed © AFP
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He has an unusual and unconventional mind. Often he will make the remark that raises eyebrows, causes people to stop and think. After all the hullabaloo of the travesty in Sydney, his stepped back and said that it had shown "how desperately the Australians want to win". All India was in a rage and yet a part of him respected that unbridled determination to prevail. He saw the meaning of the whole thing. Indeed he must have taken satisfaction from it. Australia has worked themselves into a lather over beating India. The rivalry had been largely his creation. And India had stood its ground. He had played his part in that as well.

Ganguly was at his most effective against the Australians. Somehow he sensed that the two nations had a lot in common, though they knew it not. But he felt that his players were unduly intimidated by the reputations and muscularity of these opponents. Accordingly he set out to convince them that the Aussies were human and could be beaten. In India he turned up late for the toss, a cheekiness that began as an accident and became an amusing tactic. It worked. The Australians became riled and started to play the man and not the ball. They had fallen into Ganguly's trap. His players could see that he was neither scared nor scarred, and enjoyed plucking the giant's beard. As captain Ganguly understood the value of gestures, the importance of appearances.

By no means, though, was it all gestures. Ganguly was the real thing, or else he could not have carried his players along with him. In Australia in 2003-04 he knew that his struggling team needed him to lead the way in the critical hour with a captain's innings and in Brisbane he promptly produced a rousing, valorous hundred on a lively pitch against a rampant attack. It was this performance that confirmed, once and for all, that Ganguly was not as fragile as he seemed. A twig can be snapped but not even a tempest can uproot a tree. It also secured the respect of his initially reluctant opponents, who know a fighter when they see one. As far as the Aussies were concerned, Lord Snooty had earned his stripes. It is one thing to talk, quite another to follow up with deeds.

And now he leaves the scene. Although he has batted with silky serenity in this series, it is the right time to go. A man has only so many struggles in him. A player's supporters have only so many battles in them. Perhaps in the last few days of his career he will play his part in India's greatest cricketing feat, the downing of Australia not by miraculous deed but sustained ruthlessness. If so it will be no more than he deserves. Ganguly has been neither a genius or a saint or a great batsman, but he has served with distinction and leaves Indian cricket in a much better state than he found it.

Peter Roebuck is a former captain of Somerset and the author, most recently, of In It to Win It

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Posted by Yoganand29 on (November 8, 2008, 10:18 GMT)

Perhaps no other Indian batsman played with as much grace as G R Vishwanth. And if theres any one who comes close to GRV,its without a doubt Sourav.Indian Cricket owes a lots to Sourav....he taught india the art of winning.He has never been given the credit due to him as a batsman.Over 10000 runs in ODIs and 7000 in Test Cricket is no mean achievement...and yet he is not good enough. with the going of Sourav, a glorious chapter of grace, grit, gumption and fierce love for the country comes to an end......SOURAV. We will miss you .......After Nagpur...the God of the offside to cease to walk the park.......take care Sourav...you did us proud

Posted by j_yogesh on (November 7, 2008, 20:21 GMT)

Thank you for this great article Peter. I will never forget dada's courage when shoaib akhtar directed a 90+ mph ball onto his ribs and broke them... yet he comes back stronger. I think this is true for each of the great gentlemen - dada, sachin, rahul, vvs,jumbo and even javagal srinath - their commitment and sincerity is overwhelming and i feel so priveleged to have been able to watch play them together..as siddharth points out in an other article, a chapter in my life seems to coming to a close..

Posted by Dhoni_fan_from_a_dada_era on (November 7, 2008, 15:01 GMT)

Pete,

Many thanks for writing such a nice article for Sourav. And he deserves every bit of it. Rather I find it a pity really nowhere in media, his retirement got as much of attention as he deserves. While Kumble's retirement keeps on ranting on some or other newspaper, interviews flood our newschannels or websites, Ganguly, the most ever successful captain of India, goes into sunset rather silently, and that too while he performes, scores centuries and a half and brings india out of danger time and again. Sourav, in the truest possible meaning of the word has been an unsung hero in today's India, which does not remember his feat, does not acknowledge his contributions. But to people like us, he was the one the father of team India that we see mauing the aussies now. Its him, who started the process and we are reaping the benefit. God bless Sourav.

Posted by bandip75 on (November 7, 2008, 8:22 GMT)

There are lots more-mauling the Lankans at Taunton, a classy hundred at Perth, superb outing with the ball in the Sahara Cup in Canada and the numerous comebacks after being written off more times that people think that Elvis is still alive! Sourav remains one of the greats to have played this game.

Today, when the 'god of offside' calls it a day, as a cricket lover and a fan I want to thank 'Dada' for the wonderful memories, the aggression, the comebacks and most importantly giving life to a sport that was much maligned due to the match fixing controversy. Every time a spinner will bowl I will close my eyes to imagine Sourav coming down the track and hitting the ball out of the park!

Posted by bandip75 on (November 7, 2008, 8:22 GMT)

A lot of people praise Dhoni for his insistence to get in young legs into the team and forget that Sourav as captain handpicked youngsters like Viru, Bhajji, Kaif, Yuvi, Zak and backed them to the hilt.

Who would forget the famous win against the Aussies, more importantly getting under their skin. For the first time we had witnessed an Indian captain who was aggressive and would not back down from a stand-off. That's the way he played his game, when everyone was talking about his weakness to the short pitched stuff, one remembers him backing off and hit a six off an Ntini short pitched delivery in the CT in South Africa.

The famous scene at Lords of a bare-chested Indian captain waving his shirt on winning the one-day series against England. For anyone to do that at Lords was frankly unimaginable and for an Indian player even more. A new India was born and Sourav was the leader of the pack. 'Dada' was taking on the cricketing giants and traditions by the horn and proudly too.

Posted by bandip75 on (November 7, 2008, 8:19 GMT)

On a lazy Saturday winter afternoon at the Maidans in Calcutta, my friend told me that Sourav Ganguly was playing at the Kalighat Club ground. After pleading with our coach Haru-da (played a bit of sub-junior and 2nd division cricket myself) we left the nets and ran to watch him play. He had not made it to the Indian side (this was after his famous debut for the one day team in Australia wherein a daily quoted him saying he could not spot the white ball!). We sat quietly near boundary trying to get a glimpse of him, unfortunately he was not batting. I can't remember the opponents but he had them mesmerized with his out swingers and leg cutters. He got 3 wickets and we had to leave for home.I never got to watch him bat in person. A few years later history was created at Lords, a cricketer from Calcutta scored one of the most stylish century one would get to see. Calcuttans had already christened him God! He followed it up with another century in the next Test match and a star was born.

Posted by Raman01 on (November 7, 2008, 7:45 GMT)

Sourav changed Indian forever with his aggressive captaincy. He underachieved personally though. In Indian cricket, it is a monumental error to think of team than personal landmarks, as illustrated by his contemporaries. However, Sourav achieved what any so-called great could not do - transforming Indian cricket. Beyond doubt, he is an all time great in ODI's. Certainly, the best southpaw of the country so far. The last sentence of Peter showed his arch-baiting nature of Sourav that took the shine of the article completely.

Posted by aussie7798 on (November 7, 2008, 6:59 GMT)

Really come on all you Indian supporters that are constantly whinging about biased match official please remeber that it is Indian Umpires that are the reason we have neutral umpires now. And you focus on these desicions yet i could point out that the Singh hat trick in the 2001 series conatined a bizare LBW that pitched outside leg and was hit by Gilchrist and Warnes dismissal at the worst being benefit of the doubt never mind that it hit the ground. Those desicions could have radically changed that match.

I would also think that the statement that India can now play away from home is incorrect Since 2002 they have played 39 matches away from home with 14 wins 12 lost and 13 draws if you take away the 5 victories against Bangladesh and Zibabwe that leaves a unimpressing 9 wins on the road hardly a fantastic record.

I would however congragulate Ganguly on a good career he certainly has been a thorn in the Aussies side for a number of years.

Posted by chatta on (November 7, 2008, 6:18 GMT)

Ganguly has arguably been the greatest influence on Indian cricket in the last 20 years along with Kumble and Sachin. Yes, as a batsman, perhaps Dravid has fared better and Laxman has had his moments. However, one only needs to see the respect he draws from Zaheer, Veeru, Bhajji and the lot, who he stuck by through thick an thin. That will tell you a lot more than words ever will.

Peter, I think you've hit the nail on the head in this article, and it evokes very strong feelings within, no doubt, a lot of passionate indians and cricket lovers around the world. Lets say "thank you" before we bid farewell to this cricketing giant.

Posted by truthspeaker on (November 7, 2008, 4:46 GMT)

Peter Roebuck has this extraordinary skills in depicting cricketing greats - I am enthralled by Peter's style, substance and his unique phrases - one phrase in this article reads "many a times Ganguly's obituary was written, but each time he found a way to crawl back in" - it is so unique an imprint of Peter Roebuck

I wonder why Peter has to write this article now - he sensed the retirement of Ganguly in 3 days may deprive him of a golden chance to capture one of cricket's influential figures - When Peter writes about the Fab 4 and Indian cricket he transcends borders, cultures and regions - he is truly unparalleled - a most modern scribe with gift of thought and penmanship

Posted by ddwaraki on (November 7, 2008, 4:04 GMT)

The comments (Posted by rkannancrown on November 06 2008, 13:28 PM GMT) are very appropriate....Pete has forgotten to mention about these...If not for the officials planted by ICC, Ganguly's and India's match winning performances would have been the toast for the past several years....not to forget Aussies would not have had such records.. I had always admired such captains like Ganguly, Steve Waugh, Kapil Dev for the command they had over the team members. Ganguly will be remembered for his exquisite crafts of batting and captaining. It is rightly termed that he came into captaincy during a crucial phase. Pete again has missed a point by not terming him one of the greatest...How many have scored the amount of runs Ganguly has in international cricket and against the kind of opposition?? CHEERS DADA !!!

Posted by GupteVinay on (November 7, 2008, 3:51 GMT)

Great analysis of Ganguly, a Character. As a batsman he's 'match winner not Run collector' is true. But collecting runs enable you to win the matches. I think this phrase is come out of your mind not only to praise Saurabh but to kick somebody else who has piled up huge score in both Test as well as One days.

This type of veiled attack is indecent.

Posted by gary90805 on (November 7, 2008, 2:30 GMT)

Peter thanks for writing this article it's one of the best. I think Ganguly is they best off side player. I'm not sure if I want to agree to your last statement that his not a great player. I think he is one of the greatest player India has produced and he has the records to prove it. Their is up's and down in his carrier but that's game of cricket and I don't know anyone who has escape from that. Great Player, Leader, Team mate. Sourav will miss you big time Thanks for the entertainment.

Posted by Raghuvir on (November 7, 2008, 0:23 GMT)

Ganguly the captain was amazing. Ganguly the player is great. Ganguly the person is an inspiring story. Those who understood him, knew what he meant, knew how to cherish him.

The value of a diamond is in the eye of the beholder. Those who couldn't appreciate him, didn't understand him don't know what they've missed out.

I'll miss him on the top dias of cricket, but wish him the best in retirement.

Posted by shankarmazumdar on (November 6, 2008, 23:11 GMT)

As everyone else has said before me, an imminently great piece of the standard one has come to expect from Roebuck.

I HAVE A REQUEST OF CRICINFO: OVER THE LAST THREE YEARS THERE HAVE MANY EXCELLENT ARTICLES/COMMENTARIES WRITTEN ON SOURAV BY VARIOUS JOURNALISTS: SAMBIT BAL, DILEEP PREMACHANDRAN, AND A FEW OTHERS. FOR THE SAKE OF SOURAV'S MANY FANS, COULD YOU PLEASE REPRODUCE THOSE ARTICLES ON THE LAST DAY OF THE ONGOING TEST AS A TRIBUTE TO THIS DEPARTING GIANT OF INDIAN CRICKET? MANY THANKS.

Posted by Dyutibanerjee on (November 6, 2008, 22:18 GMT)

Peter your touch is as good as Sourav's touch. Brilliant summary of an extraordinary career. Cricket is no longer the monopoly of rich people. It is now accessible to ordinary men. Harbhajan, Viru, Irfan Pathan, Ishant Sharma and many other bears testimony to this fact. Sourav was instrumental in removing state dominance (particularly, Bombay, Karnatak and too some extent Delhi) in the selection process. He applied professionalism and performance as the selection criteria rather than parochialism. This has fundamentally changed the face of cricket in India. I hope this tradition is maintained for the benefit of cricket. Sourav's contribution is not only the runs that he has scored but his overall approach to the game as mentioned in the above lines. This is what will remain as his legacy. Quality players will be remembered as the runs that he has scored or the wickets that he has taken. Sourav will be remebered as a quality player and a statesman who shaped the face of cricketin India

Posted by Raghuvir on (November 6, 2008, 22:08 GMT)

Ganguly the captain was amazing. Ganguly the player is great. Ganguly the person is an inspiring story. Those who understood him, knew what he meant, knew how to cherish him.

The value of a diamond is in the eye of the beholder. Those who couldn't appreciate him, didn't understand him don't know what they've missed out.

I'll miss him on the top dias of cricket, but wish him the best in retirement.

Posted by Shatadru on (November 6, 2008, 21:33 GMT)

A shooting star dips below the horizon, but not before lighting up the firmament.

Ganguly was anything but lazy...it would have been impossible to make the comebacks that he did Otherwise. Another SG -- our original little master had made the observation that he trains one of the hardest in the Indian Cricket team.

In my mind ganguly underachieved his potential by giving away a lot of his life to captaincy.. A pity ....

Posted by dyundi on (November 6, 2008, 21:29 GMT)

I can never forget..it was 1994, I was in the seventh standard and had visited Kolkata(that time Calcutta) and my cousins there had started talking about a young guy who could hit Kapil out of the ground quite regularly during nets. Saurav was not a hero at that time, people barely knew him but he did make a mark later..and what he did was absolutely amazing for Indian cricket. Rightly said Pete 'Ganguly leaves Indian cricket in a much better state than he found it'. Hats off to 'Dada'.

Posted by bonaku on (November 6, 2008, 19:44 GMT)

It is not the end of ganguly, it is just intermission. Sooner than latter he will come back to main screen. He the man how dont like to live in shadows. He like hitting headlines.

Posted by Nampally on (November 6, 2008, 17:38 GMT)

A very good summary of Ganguly, Peter.It is unfortunate all great cricketers have to retire one day because of the aging bodies. Ganguly was not afraid to speak his mind when the situation demanded. He called "spade a spade".He showed Indians the way to counter the Australian sledging attacks. This has rubbed off on many Indian cricketers like Gambhir, Harbhajan, Zaheer and even Laxman. Thanks to Ganguly India can fight Aussies on the field on equal or better terms whether it be batting or bowling. Gone are the days when a fall of 2 quick wickets will cause an Indian collapse. The fighting spirit needed to win matches is back. As a cricketer Ganguly batted with flair and courage. He is often greeted with bumpers by Aussies but he is brave enough to stand there and face the barrage. Once he gets going he is a delight to watch. He formed a formidable opening pair with Tendulkar & Sehwag in ODI's. Great to retire while still on top - Farewell to a great player,captain & strategist.

Posted by gatoratanu on (November 6, 2008, 17:22 GMT)

As somebody mentioned earlier, this might be the best farewell written for any cricketer so far (specially when the writer's name is Peter Roebuck! Anyway, I feel same with the views of Peter but I strongly disagree with his last comments where he said that "Ganguly has been neither a genius or a saint or a great batsman, but he has served with distinction and leaves Indian cricket in a much better state than he found it.". I think when a batsman performed over 13 years & accumulated 7154 runs (av. 42.33, 16 100s in 113 matches-so far) in tests & 11363 runs (av. 41.02, 22 100s in 311 matches-so far) in one day internationals, it is fair enough to say that he's one of the greatest batsman in his time and arguably one of the best left handed batsman as well!

Posted by Muksi on (November 6, 2008, 16:53 GMT)

Very nice article Peter....you have described DADA in the best possible manner.....Farewell to the best captain to lead India.

Posted by henchart on (November 6, 2008, 15:45 GMT)

Ganguly was more shrewd than he appeared unlike Kapil Dev.I recall he avoided the Nagpur test against Aussies in 2004 and also a one dayer against Windies in 2002 at Vijayawada for the fear of losing .Incidentally India lost both these games.

Posted by Krishna2007 on (November 6, 2008, 15:36 GMT)

Sometimes one is really astonished at the calibre of Indian players one has seen in the past 30 years. Is it even possible that one has seen the likes of Gavaskar, Vishy, Kapil, Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly, Kumble, Laxman and Sehwag. This is not an attempt to create a list in any order of greatness and has some notable omissions. However, these great players have been catalysts of change and have transformed, in some way or the other, the kind of underdog feeling that existed in the Indian cricketer's psyche. They have done it in their own ways and have made a statement with bat or ball, both in the case of Kapil.

We have to doff our hats to all of them. As far as Ganguly is concerned, Roebuck has captured the quintessence of his character and highlighted the greatness of his batting. To me he remains the best inspirational leader that India ever had and the best comeback kid.

Posted by Gumpunana on (November 6, 2008, 15:30 GMT)

A superb article, Peter. A fitting tribute to a man who seemed far less outstanding than his colleagues, but whose talents lay in inspiring those colleagues to be outstanding. Dada, we will miss you on the cricketing field, remembering that you will have had a hand in everything good that happens to Indian cricket in the future.

Posted by Siddharth_Pandit on (November 6, 2008, 15:07 GMT)

An absolute fighter !! Nobody could be compared to Dada just because of the amount of effort and magnitude of his achievements. His contribution towards Indian cricket is greater than Sachin !!

Posted by aabhat on (November 6, 2008, 14:58 GMT)

Arguably the BEST farewell written for any cricketer! Hats off Pete!

Posted by cricketaholic on (November 6, 2008, 14:42 GMT)

Thanx Peter for such an wonderful article...though I would like to mention one thing...I don't exactly agree with the last line. Over 11,000 runs in ODI s and 7,000 runs in test cricket(where he most of the time batted in 3rd down or 4th down)...Is this not enough to be one of the great of the game??? I am not sure. But as you said, he has timed his retirement perfectly as his square drives. DADA, we love u...we are grateful to u as u have given us numerous occasions when we felt proud about Indian Cricket. U have been an artist of the game...and your departure has ensured that Cricket will miss one of her ornament.

Posted by vishnubhau on (November 6, 2008, 14:13 GMT)

DADA is so much on our minds that - he is the most talked Indian cricketer for the last 3-4 months. He is talked by the media so much that one finds it difficult to believe that he is doing something wrong or right. The article rightly says that its his background that makes him GANGULY... he is a person who would never ever think about the result/reaction of his deeds before performing the deed...`can see to it later, but will do THIS' is his attitude...Yes his leadership needs to be looked in the light of the situation when India was shocked with the match fixing events, Indian crickets most devastating phase, but the leader in Ganguly was THE right person to be handed over the torch. I agree that te players around him were talented but the leader of Indian cricket team was never so strong in whole history as was Ganguly, so the players could perform to their best...this is an essential quality of any leader..bye - bye Ganguly & have a great life after cricket...

Posted by rkannancrown on (November 6, 2008, 13:28 GMT)

Peter Roebuck has mentioned only part of the story. If ICC did not consistently appoint umpires (Bucknor, Hair et al) and refrees (Proctor, Broad, Dennis etc)who were completely biased against Asian and Indian players, Ganguly and his team mates would have been world champions long ago. During this period we saw not only the incredible Sydney test (where ICC appointed officials converted an Indian victory into an Australian victory) but also the spectacle of Tendulkar & Dravid being wrongly given out umpteen number of times, particularly at crucial moments in close matches.In this situation, Ganguly led the team and refused to be cowed down.ICC responded by repeatedly targeting Ganguly and his team on all kinds of debatable charges. That Ganguly and his teammates did well, inspite of lack of understanding by media and lack of real support by BCCI, is the real accomplishment.

Posted by cricsom5667 on (November 6, 2008, 13:16 GMT)

Beautifully written article devoid of bias although overlooking Ganguly's significant contribution in one day cricket as a batsman too as pointed out by other readers in this forum ! But to me Ganguly's greatest contribution has been to extricate Indian cricket from the yolk of match fixing and parochialism and forging together a fighting unit from a disoriented group of talented individuals. The "Team India" sobriquet can largely be attributed to him. Some of the current cricketers like Harbhajan, Zaheer, Sehwag, Dhoni owe their breaks in the Indian team to him not to mention some of other players who have represented India in the recent past. Here was a man who rose above parochialism and opened the doors for promising and talented cricketers from India's small towns or outfits bereft of a cricketing pedigree. This is a contribution that even the great Sunil Gavaskar cannot claim (remember Suru Nayak, Parkar).I wish Dada,India's most successful captain every success of the field too.

Posted by Vilander on (November 6, 2008, 12:53 GMT)

Peter Roebuck you know your art and i now know which one's your master piece. I saw Ganguly the way i never saw him before but somehow felt this is how he exactly was, always. Even the photos where perfect..

Posted by Cricdish on (November 6, 2008, 12:42 GMT)

"Hereabouts India was extremely lucky to have at its disposal a superb group of senior players untouched by those dire events, and a new captain free from the insecurity and greed that had undone his predecessor."

Dear Peter. Ganguly's predecessor was Tendulkar. Are you telling us something about Tendulkar's involvement in the match fixing scandal that we don't know?!

Posted by Prodip_Ghosh_BAPI on (November 6, 2008, 12:42 GMT)

Dada, I have nothing to say about your golden carrier. Just i want to say Please take my PRONAM and give me your brave of fighting.Also i have a prayer to you please do something for "Bangali" as they think you their second GOD. Have a nice happy upcoming time.

With Best Regards Prodip Kumar Ghosh Manage Service Enginner Warid (CNST) telecom bangladesh Ltd.

Posted by SamBelledona on (November 6, 2008, 12:40 GMT)

This is a brief commentary of the test career of Saurav, Saurav has been a greatest fighter bringing about the transformation in the one day team. He has been a catalyst an agent of Change and he transformed the mindset of the youth in India.

He was not afraid to say what he thought were right which common men concurred with but it sometimes ruffled feathers of the so called pundits. He fought several battles he made me proud to call myself a fellow contry man, the pride which developed emotions and generated interest in the game. I would love to see an article which truly describes the many facets of Saurav.

Sauvav as we have seen him had a Shy persona, the caring persona, the glamorous persona, the orthodox persona, the honest persona, the sincere friend persona and a proud Indian persona.

Posted by CricketsBeau on (November 6, 2008, 12:22 GMT)

The article is superb!! Ganguly for sure is a maverick who changed the face of Indian cricket, took up its helm and showed the cricketing world what we had in bag… Fortunately he had the individuals of great capabilities making it easy for him to transform them into a talented team capable of challenging any team in their own backyard. But definitely he will be remembered for his cricketing aggression as a captain.

Posted by Bagapath on (November 6, 2008, 11:59 GMT)

Peter! I think you have made yourself some serious money. Any future anthology of good cricket articles will certainly feature this piece. Brilliant!

Posted by cheguramana on (November 6, 2008, 11:01 GMT)

Theres been so much written about Ganguly's act on the balcony at Lord's. My own take on this incident is this : Ganguly's action was not a random, spur of the moment thing. I believe this may be a riposte to what Flintoff did when England had earlier toured India. India was leading the 6 match ODI series 3-1 and everybody expected India to wrap up the series. Instead, England won the last 2 matches and the series was drawn. Ganguly was visibly furious at the result. The result owed much to Flintoff's bowling efforts. There seemed to be plenty of needle between the two, tho' they had played together in County cricket. The memorable moment came when England won the last ODI to draw level and Flintoff took the last Indian wicket to fall... and then took his shirt off right there on the ground, in celebration ! When India won the Natwest Trophy, Ganguly, watching from the balcony promptly took his shirt off and if my lip reading is right, was shouting 'F**** Flintoff !! F **** Flintoff!!'

Posted by Sivaram.L on (November 6, 2008, 10:28 GMT)

First things first. Appreciations to Peter Roebuck for an excellent evaluation of the glittering career of Sourav Ganguly.Sourav's career can be segmented into three parts.The first part of it shows a determined figure with a school boy moustache playing all the awesome shots on the offside making a mark in Tests and ODIs. The next is the most intriguing part which is that of a shrewd captain who very much looked and felt like a proud leader leading India's way in the renaissance of Indian Cricket. The special one, though, is the third part.If not for that comeback chapter, we all would have read this Roebuck article(perhaps with a lesser number of paragraphs!) some 3 years ago. But with his third chapter he did turn the clock anticlockwise to go back into the form of his early days.Hail Ganguly!

Posted by BaraniUmapathy on (November 6, 2008, 9:13 GMT)

He is the one after Great Kapil Dev,has redefined the Indian Cricket in many ways. A inspirational Leader and skillful tactician on and off the field. He Made the Indian team to believe themselves everything is possible. Every Indian who loves Indian cricket cannot forget DADA as easily.. Have a GRAND LIFE dada after your cricket..

Posted by DavosofHK on (November 6, 2008, 9:10 GMT)

A superb article about a fascinating cricketer. I give Ganguly enormous credit for galvanising the Indian team and leading them to higher achievements. Under Ganguly, the team was aggressive, hungry and successful. All hail the odd fellows who take a different path and show us all a better way. Well batted Roebers, a fine piece of writing. And well-batted Sourav, a memorable career indeed!

Posted by kingshuk on (November 6, 2008, 8:55 GMT)

Well I have serious doubts on the 5th comment made by Mr Goutam Chakravarthi.Do you even know that Ganguly is the No 1 Batsmen in the world at no 4 in terms of averages with a minimum qualification of 1000 runs which is significant enough.He even got the Double Hundred against Pakistan batting at no 4.Its just that batting lower down the order when till 2006,which means for 10 years of his life,he never had a wicket keeper batsmen as his partner and its not that he only batted at no 5.He also batted at no 6 for around 20 Tests which is a lot and how do you expect Somone to have an average of 50.By the way Ganguly in his first 30 Tests where he played at No 3 ,Had an average of 50 which seales the debate that He is no less a Test player than Sachin or Dravid.

Posted by AJ_NM on (November 6, 2008, 7:38 GMT)

The best Indian captain there is, there was and there ever will be - Sourav Chandidas Ganguly. You have been a true inspiration to 'the turn of the century Indian cricket fans'. You made us believe in victory, that we can beat 'the best of the best'. You gave us the come from behind win against the Aussies ('01), the trip to WC'03 final, the 'so close yet so far' drawn Aussie series ('03-04) and the Pakistan test series win. Sometimes I wish we would have seen more of the 'dogged batsmen', which we saw in South Africa ('06-07) but you did give us the greatest of memories. I salute you and your fabulous service to Indian cricket - you will remain, in my mind, the most important and influential Indian cricketer to grace the game.

And Yes - closest article I've seen describing Ganguly as we fans see him.

Posted by BHARATLIFE on (November 6, 2008, 7:29 GMT)

Candidness at it's best.Peter Roebuck is one hell of a writer.He is neither too acerbic about his criticism nor parsimonious in his praise,the article is almost the exact way we see our cricketing Kohinoor(why like him?why hate him?).He talked about his grity nature at the same time his notoriously lethargic attitude, he talked about his leadership and his slightly provocative nature ...you could see Ganguly through his eyes,from the impediments faced being a non-Mumbaite to his captaincy ,"unconventional thinking".But I dearly wished a bit more emphasis on Ganguly batting abilities(off side),that if there was anything that could have denied Ganguly immortality(as batsmen) in cricketing annals were only(some) his on-side shots,but with Peter's columns it is never "almost great" ,it is "are you there or not?".Ganguly is my hero and humans are not perfect,he elaborates the inhibitions thus giving a almost fitting justification to the name of the article "Many sides of Gangul

Posted by urs_siva on (November 6, 2008, 7:03 GMT)

A good article about a great leader of the Indian team. But one thing peter roebuck have said tat ganguly is never a great batsmen reveals tat he has not considered the records and milestones that sourav holds under his cap in Odi's. Also it should be remembered that ganguly is only indian southpaw who had made more than 7000 test runs. All the best to ganguly's post international cricketing life

Posted by hari.handsom on (November 6, 2008, 7:01 GMT)

An end towards the begining of something new.. yep thats for Sourav .. But for us he is the soul owner of the current Indian Cricket Team. He has produced one of the world's best ever players for Indian cricket. DADA you have done something great for the Indian Cricket and criticism will be there even if u score a century per match. Way to go sir.. All the very best and Thanks a lot for your flawless leadership. May god bless you.

Posted by DONSILVA on (November 6, 2008, 6:52 GMT)

There are only three Asia Cricketer have really changed the so called England Ausi Based kingdom including Ganguly, & other two were Arjuna and Imran. There are so may champions in sub continent but these three are the inspirational leaders to their countries. The departure of the Ganguly will leave a huge vacuum in the Cricketing arena as most of the current day captains are not true leaders. On the other hand it is not easy to create such fears competitors in humble cultural backgrounds; however that is essential to challenge the dominance of Eng/ Ausi based system. As mentioned Ganguly has brought the Fighting spirit to the Indian Cricket in the long run and has his special place in the history which will never be challengeable.

Posted by masterblaster666 on (November 6, 2008, 6:48 GMT)

It's not for nothing that Peter Roebuck is so highly regarded a cricket writer. It would have been the most comprehensive Ganguly article if only, as Goutam pointed out, he had alluded to Ganguly's one day exploits. He was for a period of 3 years or so India's best one day batsman and filled the void Sachin's fickle form in the interim left. As it stands, it is still one of the best Ganguly articles: fondly written but not fawning and observing but not judgmental.

Posted by RobustRams on (November 6, 2008, 6:36 GMT)

MY "God" "Gosh" "Damn" use any type of exclamation but not enough to explain this article I have been following cricket acutely for last 8 years and this is the best article I have ever read,and yeah "To Win without risk is to Triumph without glory" a phrase I think best suited to Ganguly

Posted by goutham.chakravarthi on (November 6, 2008, 4:49 GMT)

While it is quite striaght forward that Ganguly was never a great Test match batsman, his greatness in the One Day variety is unquestionable. Probably Roebuck overlooked his One Day achievements in the Ganguly career summation.

Posted by karthikeyan7585 on (November 6, 2008, 4:40 GMT)

The truth that everybody has to know about Sourav Ganguly. Very Nice article to read about India's successful captain.

Posted by AnithaReghunathan on (November 6, 2008, 4:36 GMT)

True - every single word.

Posted by PrasenjitKB on (November 6, 2008, 3:55 GMT)

Step aside, Neville Cardus (late lamented, if you will). Peter Roebuck is the real king of cricket writing. Every word of this article rings perfectly true. I am an unabashed Ganguly fan. But I could only have dreamed of writing this brilliant article. I doff my metaphorical hat to Peter Roebuck!

Posted by revanth035 on (November 6, 2008, 3:49 GMT)

undoubtedly the best captain india has ever had,sourav has batted and captained the indian team with distinction.in many ways his tenure as captain has been a watershed in indian cricket.he has made the players realise that they can beat the best in the business and the way in which he has backed the youngsters in the side and instilled confidence in them is remarkable.although his batting got affected in the latter half of his career due to burden of captaincy,he is still arguably one of the best ODI batsmen to have played the game ever .i remember rahul dravid's quote from a newspaper that on the offside there are only god and ganguly.Kudos to the man for his invaluable service to indian cricket.

Posted by Arijit_in_TO on (November 6, 2008, 3:35 GMT)

Loved and hated; respected and scorned. A fighting strategist at times yet a simple tactician on many occasions. An open book to some yet a curious enigma to others, Sourav Ganguly will be remebered as the winningest Test Captain in Indian cricket as well as its great antihero. Thanks for the memories.

Posted by vswami on (November 6, 2008, 3:30 GMT)

A fair piece and a nice tribute ahead of his last test. One of the problems with Ganguly is that many of his gestures have been misunderstood because of cultural differences. At the core, he is fundamentally a gifted but lazy guy. And he is confident that his gifted ability will more than make up for his lack of discipline. Anyone who has been to lazy Calcutta will instantly recognise where he is coming from. The same lethargy also means that he doesnt bother to clear up the misundertandings and lets it fester, even though he is extremely intelligent and articulate to do it. Of all the Fab Five, he is the best guy to play a part in any future administrative setup as he has the sharp political acumen required to survive and win, while having the credibility and intelligence to make a real difference.

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Peter RoebuckClose
Peter Roebuck He may not have played Test cricket for England, but Peter Roebuck represented Somerset with distinction, making over 1000 runs nine times in 12 seasons, and captaining the county during a tempestuous period in the 1980s. Roebuck acquired recognition all over the cricket world for his distinctive, perceptive, independent writing. Widely travelled, he divided his time between Australia and South Africa. He died in November 2011
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