After twelve years of international cricket, Sourav Ganguly, a flamboyant left handed opener from Kolkata has called “Its day”, before the hyped four-match test series against the Oz. Sourav, who has been known for his ability to pierce the offside field and timing the ball with perfection will be playing his last four match against Australia in the next 30 days. As a captain he has taken the Indian team from “bunch of lazy batsmen” to a “rich blend of talented youths”. As a rhetoric leader he has been respected in the team as a captain and a senior player. By taking India to the 2003 World cup final and remarkable Test Series victories outside sub-continent, arguably he is the best captain India has ever produced. Yesterday once again he set standard by announcing his retirement from cricket for giving way to the young talents in the country.
Sourav was predominantly a batman in earlier stages of his carrier. His ability to score runs consistently at the top of the order gave balance in batting order for the Indian team, which was suffering from lack of skilled openers in 1996 world cup in the sub-continent. Rahul once complimented Sourav as “next to God on the offside”. Geoffrey Boycott, the notorious English commentator, praised him as a “gifted timer” of the cricket ball. Sourav’s name has been appended in the list of Indian star batsmen, which was having only the name of Sachin for almost a decade. His cricketing skills enthralled crowds across the country and earned him respect and love among the sentimental Indian fans.
He got the opportunity to lead the Indian side when Sachin stepped-down as captain after the 2000 Australian tour debacle. He had transformed himself from a player to a great leader. Sourav’s decision making; team selection and field setup were widely appreciated by commentators and cricket lovers. He has backed youngsters like Yuvraj, Kaif, Zaheer, Harbhajan and given freedom for them to perform and establish themselves as players. He lead a team with rich blend of experience and youth, which had won the historic Final in Lords against England; victories outside subcontinent; famous test victory at Leeds and first Test series win in England. He is great communicator and extracted the best out of all individuals and created history by beating Australia in their home after 35 years. He was involved in couple of controversies on and off the field, But I personally feel that he is one of the few Indian players, who responded properly to happenings on the field like sledging.
As unanimously happening to all players of the game, Sourav also had been dropped from the team following series of poor show with the bat. In the midst of these humiliations, he had been criticized by Indian media and column writers for his incapability to play bouncers and the deliveries moving away from his bat. He responded to all the criticism by scoring consecutive hundreds in domestic tournaments and county matches, which earned him a place in the national Team when India toured South Africa by 2007. He emerged as a player of the series and sent a strong message to the world that, he was still determined to play cricket with passion. I was really impressed by the comeback from the “prince of Kolkata”. In a post match presentation he said “ It’s all about guts and determination, ” when someone asked about his comeback.
Sourav has been a role model for lot of young emerging players from India. His knowledge and passion for the game is still a valuable resource that BCCI can exploit for betterment of cricket in India. With hefty experience of international cricket, Sourav still has a lot with him to deliver to Indian cricket.