Ganguly Goes With a Bang
Ganguly dada did it again: produced another knock to remind his critics that he is and will ever be regarded has one of the greatest Indian batsmen ever. But the critics already have their I-pods on, (they are all but knocked out), their eyes are watching other kids and they are only irritated by this undying rubble raiser. The trouble with being an outspoken great in India is that people want to drown you in their own nonsense. In his hour of greatness too, he stands on a podium, waiting for applause.
While applause will come at some hour, maybe when shame and guilt will egg the gathered masses, for now, the hero stands on the podium, not garlanded, not felicitated, but stands there fighting the mosquito noises asking him to leave and go home. But here I will start will loud clap from my corner, and hopefully others will join in:
Dada, for you and your "jazba" (the passion that makes you the man you are)!
To have sixteen centuries, highest number of wins as captain, seven thousand runs in test cricket is no mean achievement. It does not happen everyday. Only Tendulkar, Dravid and Gavaskar have scored more, and among all the batsmen in the top ten list for India, only Ganguly has been in the eye of so many storms. To score more than 11000 runs, take 100 wickets, make 22 centuries, lead your team into World Cup final, requires a Ganguly, the Prince of Calcutta, the man next only to God on the off-side. After Tendulkar, Ganguly is the best ever one day batsman we have ever had, and his records do not display the spirit and fight he brought into the team when he took over as the captain. Even Lara, the greatest left-handed batsmen ever, has been prone to dismal phases, even Tendulkar has had his rough patches, but while their greatness was never doubted, their selection was automatic, Ganguly has had times when he was unrecognizable, covered by mud, blood, spit, dirt and sweat.
When he lay writhing near dead in a cesspool of criticism, when selectors, veterans favored obituaries over eulogies, Ganguly busied himself in domestic cricket, waiting for that chance to reassert that a great fighter never fades and never destroys himself by the doubts that lies in the mind of others. As a man who failed and fought passionately, and celebrated his successes with a torn shirt, beating his chest like a tribal, as a legend who refuses to fizzle out, Ganguly is a saga that will ever inspire me personally, and hopefully many among our midst.
Ganguly has the capacity of creating intense emotions in the cricket maniac country. He is judged and smudged by the audiences that include:
* The Halwaais whose best catches are of chappatis thrown from one hand to another.
* The streetwallahs, whose experience of glance amounts to leering at women walking by.
* The barbers, who think they know how to cut.
* The partymongers, who believe they have mastered the art and style of dealing with bouncers.
* The drivers, who know how to drive to any corner of labyrinths called cities in India.
* The beggars on riversides, who dive without fear, and pluck out coins at speed that could help them win a medal, if there was an Olympic event like that.
* The bureaucrats who understand the concept of slip extremely well, the clerks who know how to guide the buck, the businessmen who know how to steal a single (from the beginning of a number like 10000 that was their due as taxes).
* The students, many of them have never scored half century, let alone a hundred. * The students who accept every failure and never fight back, never learn how to rise against adversity, never strive to achieve event a momentary state where anyone would be roused to say, "that's brilliant!"
* The politicians, who think positions, seats in academia or government or industry, are to be distributed not according to the talent or the proven ability but in a way that makes greatest number of voters happy. The oldies (>65 year old) who rule the country and never think of retiring, think that the seniors (i.e. 35 year old) should retire to make way for youngsters (~30 year old).
We, Indians, who have not learned how to praise unless foreigners bestow awards on our kind. We, Indians, who know how to lead a man to disgrace, maybe form a mob to beat him to death, but we don't know how to hoist a hero on our shoulders and carry him around the city in triumph. We carry only hardened criminals around like that. We can worship only movie stars, we can suck up to only politicians, we can praise only the dead. We, Indians, who don't know how to value our heritage, our language, our environment, our laws, we, Indians, who defile everything original and pious, we Indians who are happy with zero or at most three medals in Olympics, we Indians who have let millions perish without food and opportunity for earning any, we Indians who let our daily life be mediocre and full of "chalta hai" (let it be) attitude, we Indians who just criticize and never do the effort it takes to actually change or better anything.
Go Dada go! You did more than one could ask of you. But we have let bigger men go, we have allowed bigger calamities to happen. You have succeeded and done well, we have loved and hated you for many things in last two decades, and we have celebrated and berated you. Nevertheless we will remember you. Imagine what we are capable of and know, we have treated you exceedingly well, and forgive us, like an indulging, grand hero does.
In your death on the battlefield, in your retirement, in your calling it a day, lies your future redemption and future praise. But that never guided or deterred you. So go in victory, go with your head held high, go with a celebration through your strokeplay, go with mute admiration of millions of us spread around the globe. Go Dada go! As you go, give us that smile again, raise your helmet once more, pound that fist once again, and once again, jump with that tight fist raised high...