Every cricketer dreams of achieving at least one record set by the great Sir Don Bradman. However, if there is one record no cricketer would like to share with Bradman, it is of getting out for zero in the last international innings. Unfortunately, Sourav Ganguly did just that.
Few, and in the Indian context ‘very few’ cricketers get the chance to go with full glory…when they wish. As the great Late Vijay Hazare put, “You should retire when people ask you ‘why’ instead of ‘when’”. The great player that Sourav Ganguly was he got a chance to do what he always said he would – retire on his own terms.
Ganguly was initially a right-handed batsman who had to turn left-handed just so that he could use his brother’s cricket equipment. And the world faced its consequences for well over a decade.
Starting his international career on the tour to
There were many who thought he didn’t deserve a place in the side. And, there were many who were praying so that he fails in the series. But, the mentally strong man that Ganguly is, he didn’t let all the talk affect him. He became just the 7th Indian player to score a century in his debut innings and that too at Lord’s. And to prove this wasn’t a fluke, he went on to score another century in his next test match. His critics had their lips sealed. Ganguly’s tryst with Lord’s and his love-hate relationship with critics and media begun on this tour.
Sourav’s batting was magical. Known as a man who couldn’t play the short delivery, he successfully toured all countries. He believed in letting his bat do the talking. Though he rarely had a ‘failure’ in the real sense of the term in test matches, he would have, by his own admission, liked to score about a couple of thousand more runs in test matches. However, coming in at number 6 in the batting order didn’t really help him achieve this target as he was usually left to play with the tail-enders. And still scoring more than 7000 runs in test matches coming in at that position in the batting order is a rare achievement.
Though successful in tests, it were the one-dayers that Sourav really made his mark. Having promoted to open the innings in ODIs, Ganguly formed a formidable partnership with Sachin Tendulkar giving
In spite of all these amazing batting records, Ganguly will always be known for the inspirational captain that he was. Ganguly was made the captain in 2000 when Indian cricket was shattered by the match-fixing episode. Several senior players were accused, and consequently dropped. Tendulkar who was the captain at that time decided to give up the responsibility and suggested Ganguly’s name. His stint as captain brought Ganguly - the person - to the fore. He had no choice but to select a young team. Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, Mohd. Kaif and even MS Dhoni are the fruits of the seeds that Ganguly had sown. He showed the team how to win matches. He made the team aggressive. Indians who used to meekly surrender to the opposition’s sledges suddenly started giving back what they got. This resulted in Ganguly and his team-mates visiting the match-referee’s office a lot more which meant more fines and more bans for their behaviour. But Ganguly never cared. He continued to fight fire by fire. Controvery became his middle name.
Ganguly - the captain
Indians who were considered poor travelers became a force and started winning matches abroad -
After his century in Australia
Leading India to the World Cup 2003 final
His century in the first test against
Sourav was outspoken as a captain. What you saw was what you got. Rarely did he give any excuses when he lost. He knew exactly what the team lacked and what exactly needed to be done. He backed his young team. He gave them enough chances if they encountered failure. His own experience with failure and of being subsequently dropped after his first tour might have played a part in this.
Ganguly never let anyone one dominate or talk ill about his team. Once when Sachin Tendulkar was wrongly accused of ball-tampering against
Another very famous incident is his shirt-waving moment at Lord’s in 2002.
Sourav waving his shirt at Lord's
The shirt that Ganguly waved now finds a place in the Lord's mueseum
Though he was perfect with all his decisions, he, one can say, went wrong with one which changed his life. He took the help of former Aussie captain Greg Chappell to fine-tune his batting during the 2003 – 04 tour down-under. Perhaps, this bit of coaching by Chappell left Ganguly so impressed that he insisted on Chappell being
Ganguly with Greg Chappell
He went back to playing domestic cricket. Pictures of Ganguly practicing like never before made the rounds. One particular incident during this episode is well-known. Way past midnight Ganguly’s father was awakened by a constant noise of ball hitting the bat. When he went out to see where the noise was coming from he found Sourav practicing making his servant bowl to him. Sourav’s father told his wife, “Our son has gone mad. Tell him it’s all over.” She knew it wasn’t.
For the last two years, Ganguly was
Through all these ups and downs Sourav made loads of enemies. Few of them were those whom he backed to the hilt only to be stabbed in the back by them when they came to power. Most noticeably among them was Greg Chappell of course. Another one was Rahul Dravid. Dravid was the wall of
Ganguly and Dravid before the Chappell episode
Even after going through all this, the only thing he wishes he could change about his cricket career is the World Cup loss. All through his ups and downs one man who supported Ganguly whole heartedly was Sachin Tendulkar. Sachin-Sourav first met during their under-15 days when they were room-mates. Ganguly happily describes one episode of their under-15 days. Late at night when Sourav was sleeping in their room, Sachin filled the room with water. Ganguly woke up to find water all around him and Tendulkar laughing there in a corner! Ganguly describes Sachin as a great batsman and a great human being who could never manage to learn Bengali!
Sachin and Sourav during U-15 days. I dont know who is in the middle!
The first families of Indian cricket - Sachin and Sourav with children
Having gone through all this, the final nail in Ganguly’s coffin was when he was dropped from Irani Trophy team in September 2008. Reason – unknown. By the time he was picked for
Receiving the Padmashri award from APJ Abdul Kalam
On 10th November 2008, Sourav's last day on the field as an Indian player, Indian captain MS Dhoni let Sourav captain the side for some time. It was a wonderful gesture by Dhoni honouring a player and captain of Ganguly’s brilliance. This incidentally is the very day when Ganguly was made captain 8 years ago.
My sentiments exactly...and if Sachin retires then "What's cricket?"
Thank you Dada for all the memories. There will never be a cricketer like you ever again.
I ask myself whether I will ever watch cricket with the same enthusiasm again. The answer is ‘No’.