Wednesday, October 26, 2005

It Isn't Cricket To Demonise One Man...

Nirmal Shekar - April 19 2005

Ganguly may not deserve to be deified; on the other hand, he doesn't deserve to be demonised either .Seldom, if ever, could the vast, complex world of Indian cricket have been as united as it appears to be now in directing its righteous anger and retributive rage at an all-too-human, vulnerable man of many frailties — Sourav Ganguly.
In a country where cricket is followed with a quasi-religious fervour, the sport is, nevertheless, truly democratic in that it makes room for conflicting opinions on a variety of issues. But, for once, now, all conflicts seem resolved when it comes to our view of Ganguly and what he deserves.
Ganguly-bashing is not merely the most interesting game-away-from-the-game of the recent weeks but it is, too, a powerful palliative when confronted with the ills of Indian cricket. For, what is wrong with the sport can be summed up in one word, sorry, name: Sourav.
And what did the man do to deserve this? Well, he turned out to be the most successful captain in the history of Indian cricket!

Wretched run

Then again, Ganguly, no doubt, has had a wretched run with the bat. As captain, too, he has been far less successful over the last few months than he was in his prime as a leader of men. It would have done Indian cricket no harm if the selectors had counselled Ganguly into taking a break even before the six-match ban was slapped on him by the International Cricket Council. Nobody, after all, is indispensable as the Australian selectors reminded us a few years ago when they dumped Steve Waugh from the one-day side in favour of Ricky Ponting.
Sport is a cruel business. Greater men than Ganguly have fallen victim to its caprice. It is as much a purveyor of nightmares as it is a wonderful vehicle for hopes and dreams. Its remorselessly turning wheel carries some to dream destinations while crushing others en route.
"For life is but a dream whose shapes return. In their recurrence with recurrent changes," wrote T.S. Eliot in Waste Land. As Ganguly languishes now in the dark wasteland of his roller-coaster career, an irony that may not have been lost on those with long memories has to do with the events of the 1996 Indian tour of England.
Even as the suave young man from Kolkata became an instant celebrity with back-to-back centuries at Lord's and Trent Bridge, Mohammad Azharuddin was going through a horrendous time with the bat. In the event, the wheel has come a full circle now, playing out, yet again, the theme of eternal recurrence!
If nothing succeeds like success, then a despicable aspect of failure is that it is highly contagious. If one is the validation of every sportsman's dream, the other is nothing but a case of the dream turning sour, developing dark shadows, as in Ganguly's case today.
But then, Ganguly's form, perhaps even his future as captain or even merely as a batsman, may be less relevant now than the popular pastime of the day — the vilification of Ganguly.
Even if you conceded that the Prince of Kolkata has been stripped of his regal robes and no longer deserves the throne, even if you admitted that he does not merit a place in the side as a batsman in his current form, even if he never plays a single game for India again, is it still not important to give him his due?
And that — his due — in purely statistical terms may be much more than owed to any other Indian captain in history. Yet, this is far less significant than the importance of the new cricketing culture that Ganguly introduced in his years of pomp.

Positive attitude

It was nothing less than a rebooting of our cricketers' mindset, nothing short of a major revolution that changed the body language of Indian cricket. It might be blindingly obvious to anyone who values truth that it was Ganguly's undimmable optimism and refreshingly positive attitude that turned things around for Indian cricket in the new millennium.
It was Ganguly's belief in himself — particularly as a leader — and in his team, a potent mix of rich experience and explosive youth, that saw India match the best in the sport — Australia — in two unforgettable series, first at home and then down under just over a year ago when the captain's wonderfully courageous century (144) in Brisbane set the tone of the series.
If Ganguly's attitude didn't win him too many friends, then it must be noted that a dollop of aristocratic arrogance is never wasted in leaders of men. While it is tough to find talented cricketers for the international stage, it is even tougher to zero in on a leader with a vision, a man who can set goals and inspire the team to achieve them.
For a few precious years, at least, Ganguly did exactly that. He may not deserve to be deified; on the other hand, he doesn't deserve to be demonised either. One of the lessons that life has taught us is this: we might struggle to find great achievers in the future if we failed to celebrate the ones we have now amidst us.


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12:45 PM  
Blogger shravan said...

Hey Oracle_Guy
This is the one article from Nirmal which I save on to my desk top. Nice to see some else liked it as much .

Hope he plays well again

1:27 PM  
Blogger shravan said...

Blogged abt this blog too. Anyways thanks for the articles

2:30 PM  

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