This is a pretty long post.. Such a day comes in a players life only once, and I think he deserves the perfect farewell for all that he has done for the game. This is more than a farewell though.. This is about what Dada means to this blogger.
On the off side, first there is God then there is Ganguly!
- Rahul Dravid
There comes a time in everyones life when they want someone who could make everything right.. We look in different directions to find that one hero who makes us believe in ourselves.. some find the hero in their best friend, some in their teachers, some in themselves, I found him in Sourav Chandidas Ganguly..
I was 12 when he first hit that maiden century at Lords.. I don't think at that point I saw him as a hero.. He was just another bespectacled kid who had a moustache which looked like it had been pasted on.. Well, he was 23 back then, not so much a kid, but that age is adolescence in a cricketers life..
The reason why I feel so close to Dada is coz I have grown up with him.. Ofcourse there is a 12 year difference between our ages, but I have grown up seeing him evolve as a player and then as a Leader..
Dada became my hero when he became the captain of the Indian side. He changed the face of Indian cricket.. No, Sachin Tendulkar didn't change the face of Indian Cricket, with due respect to the batting maestro, piling up 15k runs doesn't amount to changing the face of Indian cricket.. If you saw India meekly surrender matches in the 1990s and then fight till the last ball in the 2000s, you will understand what a force Dada has been in this team and how he has changed the way we look at Indian cricket..
When you are a teenager theres nothing more important than proving that your hero kicks every other hero's ass... Mumbai is predominantly anti-dada. I remember spending hours arguing with my friends and family proving Dada's contribution to the game is unparalleled.. Now he might not be as good as batsman as Tendulkar, Dravid or Laxman. But his batting coupled with his captaincy, makes him as tall as the aforementioned.. perhaps taller..
Dada's arrogance is legendary but so is his trust in his players. His coming late for the toss, keeping Steve Waugh waiting showed that we were ready to give it back to them.. every glare was returned...every question answered..F words flying everywhere.. every player backed -from Yuvraj to Harbhajan.. barechested bonhomie on the Lords balcony as the English watched bewildered... thats passion..
If I am not wrong, in the last 10 years, no Indian cricketer has lost more percentage of his match fee to disciplinary action than Sourav... Every third match he lost 20 to 50% of his match fee! That brashness however brought something intangible to the team.. Something that was very untypical to Indians.. The freedom to do what they wanted to, if they felt it was right..
Sourav is a dreamer... a believer.. an administrator.. a motivator.. the perfect friend.. the honest foe.. He taught us to believe in ourselves, back the people we love, give it back to the men who bully you, kick butt, and above all do what you think is right..
Do what you think is right! This has been his philosophy all along, hasn't it? He married Dona (who for me is still among the most desirable women in the country) against his family's wishes.. Backed Bhajji when he wasn't among the wickets, backed Yuvraj when he wasn't a 6x6 force..
Then one day, admists allegations of sourav faking injuries, he was unceremoniously dropped..
Remember how a certain selector had declared that Ganguly wont get selected till hes in the selection committee..?
Dada was pushed into oblivion. The media spent precious air time to justify the move.. Everyone said Dadas time was up.. Dadas detractors were having the last laugh.. Back in college , I gave up on discussions with my friends.. There was nothing left to say... I was tired, of all the injustice being dealt to the man who had made the Indian team what it is today.. Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh did stand up for Dada, imagine such a thing happening in the politically driven BCCI.. They were very young back then, had the entire career ahead of them, still they stood up for their captain... that gesture summed up the importance of dada in the team.. it was his team..
Slowly everybody accepted the fact that Dada's chapter was over.. Even sourav's family members thought so...
Here is what Sourav's father had to say - "I thought my son had gone mad. He would bat in the living room at 12 in the night. He would make the servant bowl. I wanted his mother to tell him that it cant be done... that he cant make it to the Indian team..."
I remember telling my dad(whos not much of a dada fan) that he ll make it... it will take him 1 yr..2 yrs.. 5 yrs.. but he will comeback..
He had to comeback.. for his fans.. for everyone who idolised him... It hurts when you realise the one you idolise are as human as you are.. Failure is as much a part of their lives as it is yours.. But still you want your hero to dust it off and give it a last try..
The selection committee changed.. Sourav returned.. and how!
I feel he still has a couple of years of cricket left in him.. But this statement from him says it all..
"I was tired of being humiliated again and again. I don't want to play cricket at the mercy of others," Sourav Ganguly said in an interview..
India's most successful captain ever! And this is how bitter he has gotten..! I have always felt India lacks good leaders and now I know why.. Coz anyone who tries to make a difference, work against the system is pushed and poked, screwed and humiliated..till he gives up..
Now that he is retiring from the game, I am reminded of this story..
Samrat Ashok travels through his empire dressed as a commoner when a monk asks him who he was..
Ashok: Me? - A traveller..
Monk: Your presence says you are not that ordinary..
Ashok: What does it say? -(smiling) That I am a prince?
Monk: Even Princes are ordinary.. You seem to be greater than them..
Ashok: (quizzically)Who's greater than a Prince?
Monk: A traveller- when he meets his destination..
This Thursday when he wears the Indian whites for the last time, I hope he meets his destination..
Dada, you have made us proud...
Goodbye dear friend.. It wont be the same without you....
Thank you for the memories.... Goodbye Sourav : meet your destination..
Editor in chief arshat chaudharyCurrent Issues: Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Chandidas Ganguly, Sourav ganguly