I love cricket more than any other sport. Football comes a close second but Cricket is well boss, THE GAME. Today Saurav Ganguly decided that this would be his last test series. The last time he will play for India. And he bows out of the game against possible his arch-rivals Australia.
I have never been a big fan of Ganguly, but mainly for non-cricketing reasons. I thought his taking off his shirt and waving it around at Lords was irresponsible for a captain. We still see the then youngsters Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh still showing more passion for effect rather than in their game. But inspite of what I think, I admit, it felt so good to see Ganguly waving his shirt around like that on the famous Lords balcony. But it must be said his passion was not only for effect. Making one of the most prolific comebacks in recent times shows he had and always will have a few roars left in him.
His 144 against Australia at Brisbane was something that probably made the world respect him. Battered in the ODI triangular series against the Aussies, with hardly any good form India travelled to Australia. Their coach Buchanan had predicted a 4-0 victory for Australia. Ganguly was attacked by the Australian verbally provoked as a batsman who was weak against fast bowling. His record in a previous Australian tour had been pointed out for that effect. Australia had piled up close to 400 runs in the first innigns and then India lost 4 quick wickets and then a master class by Ganguly, ducking and weaving bouncers, looking ugly yet surviving and then suddenly attacking the Australians. A mind numbing 144 runs and India took the lead. THe first test in Brisbane was a draw, but India went on to win the next one in Adelaide. A strange twist of irony is that now Buchanan is the Coach of Kolkata KnightRiders and subsequently is working with Ganguly to build the IPL team.
Many think he was India’s best captain, best left hander, best or most agressive player. I don’t know about that. Watching him bat in full flow you had to say he was the God of the Off Side as his old colleague Rahul Dravid has said of Ganguly. The last series for Ganguly, the last 4 tests he will feature in Indian test cap. I think its time to savour it. Its time for his critics and fans to come together and savour the last of the God of the off side. Its time for us to realize that there are other greats who will also bid farewell to cricket in the next year or two and history will be much kinder to them than our pessimistic and controversy loving public and its news media.