Sourav Ganguly has been a great servant for Indian Cricket. The way he has carried himself and Indian Cricket over the years through various strife and struggles to the road to success and glory is simply phenomenal. Even in trying circumstances when the going got tough this man got going. From a brilliant batsman to a born leader, the Prince is now doing an instrumental job in Cricket administration.
The greatness of Sourav Ganguly and his contribution to Indian cricket can never be undermined- be it as a player, a captain or an administrator. He has come miles and on the way overcoming some massive obstacles from when he started way back in 1992 in his debut international match against West Indies where he was out for 3 (three) and many thought that it was all over for him as far as cricket is concerned.
Four years later (1996) when he was again selected to play for India and was finally set to make his debut in the traditional version of the game many thought that it was going to be the final nail on the coffin for Sourav Chandidas Ganguly but destiny’s favourite child came back and smashed a classical Test century at the Mecca of Cricket Lords followed by another at Trent Bridge in the very next Test to show to the world that he belongs to the arena and is there to rub shoulders with the very best. After the 1999 World Cup when match-fixing scandal was looming large over India and the board was almost clueless about how to proceed this man was entrusted with the job of captaining the dismantled team and the way he responded was nothing short of truly superb. He not only brought results for the country on the field but created a team where there was mutual respect and trust for one another, young talents were given opportunity and confidence to go out there and express themselves, playing with irresistible passion and pride of representing one’s country, aggressive and fearless mindset and above all with the belief that they can beat anybody anywhere in the world. And the results are there for everyone to see as India reached the finals of the 2003 World Cup held in South Africa only losing to Australia in the entire tournament and Ganguly himself playing very well (with two tons in the series) which included a century in the semi-finals and the legend Sachin Tendulkar having a dream run in the tournament contributing substantially to the team’s success. Prior to that India had pulled off the famous victory at the NatWest Trophy Final against England in England chasing 326 runs.
It doesn’t end here.
India and Pakistan played a series after a prolong time period in Pakistan of 3 Tests and 5 ODIs in 2004. Huge interest, expectations and hype was created surrounding the series with the two arch-rivals faring off against each other in a bilateral series after a long time (after 1989-90) in Pakistan. Sourav’s Team India came out on top winning both the Test and one-day series. India had never before won a series against Pakistan in Pakistan. However, Sourav’s biggest satisfaction must have been the historic series win against Australia at home in 2001-02 where that super-human batting performance from Laxman and Dravid when they batted a whole day after following on and won the test for their team eventually assisted by a magical spell from Harbhajan Singh on the last day to bring an end to the 15 match winning streak of that eminent Australian team under Steve Waugh. On the course of his captaincy stint for India which lasted for 5 (five) years on the trot India registered 11(eleven) Test wins overseas, the most by any Indian captain till now. It was Sourav under whom Team India learnt how to win away and was not tagged as tigers only at home. Under him India also drew the 4 (four) match Border-Gavaskar series (2003-04) against Australia in Australia (downunder) levelling it 1-1 with Ganguly himself kick-starting the series with a blistering knock at the opening Boxing Day Test Match at the Gabba (Brisbane) smashing it into all parts scoring 144 runs. Moreover, who could forget his terrific comeback after being controversially dropped from the Indian team after all what he has achieved during the time of coach Greg Chappel. That comeback and the quality of batting he portrayed after his return truly speaks volumes of his character and temperament.
Post-retirement from international cricket (2008) he played IPL for the first 4 (four) seasons (till 2011) and presently he is flourishing as honourable president of the CAB (Cricket Association of Bengal) where he is bringing many beneficial changes, moving ahead with a long term goal and most importantly significant matches for the cricket-crazy fans of Kolkata like the recent Indo-Pak encounter of World Cup T20 and the final of the same tournament as well and hosting them just flawlessly with absolute modern facilities and grandeur of style. Now the trial method of playing day-night test cricket with a pink ball which has been taken up as a ploy by the ICC to bring back viewership in Test Cricket too has also first happened at the Mecca of Indian Cricket with a pink Kookabura ball in a 4-day Super League Final (played recently between 18-21 June featuring Bhowanipore and Mohun Bagan) game as Sourav Ganguly is looking and trying hard to host the first ever international Day-Night Test match in India at the venerable Eden Gardens when the New Zealand come to tour India later this year. Sourav himself firmly believes that pink ball day-night test cricket is here to stay and the way forward for the survival of Test Cricket in the long run. He has been a super-active administrator so far doing a marvellous job already in the little tenure so far that he has had. He is also a member of the BCCI Chief Advisory committee and the President of the Editorial Board with Wisden India.
A career that saw so many ups and downs, twist and turns, highs and lows with odds heavily stacked, back against the wall on numerous instances but still didn’t end prematurely. Instead, it ended very much successfully on his own terms when he walked off his head held high bidding adieu to the sport that gave him everything in life on his own terms and not on someone’s else’s discretion.
And with Sourav Ganguly now holding such positions of distinction in Indian Cricket one can surely expect many more uniqueness, further progress as this grand personality from Bengal never ceases to amaze you with his ideas and actions for this man would go any length stopping at nothing for the benefit and betterment of cricket in India.
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