Ganguly, not over and out

A career in cricket administration is something  Sourav Ganguly will now look for. It’s in his blood!

It was probably a week after he was snubbed by the franchises in the IPL auctions on January 8 and 9. Sourav Ganguly was hosting his talk-show – Dadagiri — on a popular Bengali TV channel when one of the young participants asked the former Indian captain if his cricket career was as good as over. Albeit a little stumped, Ganguly, answered with a wry smile on his lips: “Wait, the IPL is yet not over.”

Already on borrowed cricketing ‘life,’ Ganguly was finally snubbed last week when at least three IPL franchises blocked his way to play for Kochi. The decision to quit from all forms of the game was, therefore, not unexpected. It is just that Ganguly could have chosen a better way and time to exit from the big stage.

Arrogant could have been his middle name, but Ganguly knew how to carry it and almost always got away with it. His stint with Kolkata Knight Riders was actually becoming a clash of the “badshahs.” Shah Rukh’s abounding love for his “dada” was perhaps as superficial as a filmi script. Deep down, SRK must have hated Ganguly’s haughtiness as much as the team management did.

KKR’s decision to snub Ganguly was not unexpected. If well-placed team sources are to be believed, Ganguly was never in the scheme of things for IPL4. At the end of IPL3, it was decided that Ganguly will have to go, not because he was not a capable cricketer, but because, his “behaviour and attitude” was unacceptable by the management, including SRK. It made little “business” sense to harness a “problem child.”

There can be no doubts about his skills as a cricketer and a leader. Leadership has been in his genes. He knew and taught how to see his opponent in the eye. Ganguly’s hauteur, as long as he was taking on a Steve Waugh or an Andrew Flintoff, was all fine. Probably, he took his superciliousness a bit too far when time demanded more adjustment and accommodation.

Ganguly was definitely a unique personality. He was an unusual mixture of aggression, finesse, audacity and chivalry. During his heydays as a cricketer, he was surrounded and pampered by the Bengali media. It was a symbiotic relationship where both parties lived off each other. The media was probably the gainer because Ganguly was definitely ill-advised by his ‘inner-circle’ of scribes when the chips were down.

There were numerous instances for Ganguly to bid a fitting goodbye. He had been already forced to quit international cricket by Sharad Pawar’s BCCI in 2008. Across the length and breadth of the country, he was accepted as India’s most enigmatic skipper. What he wanted to prove by playing a crass commercial commodity like IPL is beyond comprehension. Someone who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, money was definitely not a criterion. If the lure of the lucre – he doubled his base price in IPL to $400,000 — ignited his dreams as a cricketer, Ganguly was sadly mistaken. Someone who always knew his sums well, Ganguly probably over-priced himself. Was it a ploy to bid farewell from IPL?

Pushing 39, Ganguly stayed amazingly fit. His TV shows demanded that he looked fit and fine, but probably his desperation to play competitive cricket also made him spend extra hours at the gymnasium. All in all, it sums up a man who never wanted reality to overturn his beliefs. Just that, time was not siding with a man who at his peak scored over 11,000 ODI runs, won 21 out of the 49 Test matches and moulded the lives and careers of several cricketers like Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan, who still swear by him.

Ganguly is also one of the three players in the world to achieve the amazing treble of 10,000 runs, 100 wickets and 100 catches in ODI cricket history. A legend in his own right, he was certainly hungry to prove a point that he still had a lot of cricket left in him. But there is life beyond the dressing room and hopefully, Ganguly will take a cue from his teammate Anil Kumble, who is now the chief of the Karnataka State Cricket Association.

Like his flamboyant father and former secretary of the Cricket Association of Bengal, Chandidas Ganguly, he has dreams to become a cricket administrator and obliquely eyes the hot seat at Eden Gardens, now in the grasp of Jagmohan Dalmiya. A favourite of the ruling Left Front government, Ganguly definitely has plans in politics and sports governance. It will be difficult to keep him out of the spotlight for long because the fire in Ganguly will burn even brighter now.

Long Live, the Prince!


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