SOURAV GANGULY … The man who truly Inspired & transformed Indian cricket.
There were leaders of Indian cricket before Sourav and after him, some of them were better batsmen than him, some were better in their own department, some had better strategic acumen and some even achieved greater cricketing success as a captain. But for his contributions towards turn around if Indian cricket, Sourav remains the North star of Indian cricket.
Other Indian captains did their own bit but the biggest boost, change in mindset to greatest extent was in Dada’s period… And not only just because he took off the shirt in (ex)lion’s den .
There were periods of excellence for Indian cricket before Sourav. Even before he born Wadekar’s team showed we can win series in different conditions away from home, Tiger Pataudi was perhaps the first one who gave Indian cricket team a sense of togetherness. Gavaskar was the first to stop cricket powers to bully India and instill self confidence in Indian cricket (Bedi did his bit in Vaseline episode but Sunil was more consistent on and off the field, even after his retirement), Kapil and his devils won world cup, proudest moment for Indian cricket, 83-85 was bright period for India, only to be followed by Javed’s sixer and Salim Malik’s assault at Calcutta which followed consistent disappointing losses against Pakistan and then Azhar era… when India won all at home and lost all outside.
And then came Sourav, he took over as captain when Indian cricket was probably going through its darkest hour. Fixing scandals involving big names, great player crying on TV, everyone looking at each other with suspicion, greatest batsman had given up captaincy after getting fed up with politics and scandals all around, India beaten even at home…. Nothing could be worse when he took over in 2000 and from there he got strong personalities together, moulded them into a strong unit…. Sachin, Dravid, Sehwag, Laxman, Kumble, Bhajji, Srinath, zaheer, instilled such confidence in not only team but in the nation’s every cricket lover and then India never looked back. At Kolkata in 2001, the world witnessed the greatest of the comebacks in test history, great victory (& shirt incidence) at The Lord’s, India reached the finals in 2003 World Cup, only to be beaten by all conquering strong Aussie team. But in that tournament too, India came back strongly after a demoralizing defeat in the first match….
The value of one’s success does not depend on where one has reached at the end but it depends on where did one start and how much distance did he cover and in which conditions …
On this scale, Sourav stands tall. In the future, more captains will come, will attain greater success in terms of numbers. Like Kapil, MSD have won world cups, no doubt great contributions…, MSD… Great Captain, Master strategist in limited overs game, Kohli has already achieved a lot as captain and is going great guns… But just for the rise that Dada gave to Indian cricket which can only be compared with Phoenix, I rate his contribution above others.
Sourav da, We love you. Wish you a very happy birthday!!!
Written by Amogh Mathure