It’s been a while since I wielded pen to scribble anything. I would wonder often, whether I could bring back the old flair for words and then ponder again as to what shall be the subject, I can easily piece together my thoughts about. And finally, I made up my mind that it has to be Indian Cricket with a special mention on how determination catapulted the fledgling career of the most successful ex-captain of team India. Well, you guessed it right. I am referring to none other than Saurav Ganguly.
I have never been an ardent fan of Saurav myself, though he amassed thousand of runs in one day format of the game and has a decent average in tests too. Somewhere there always seemed to be a flaw in his technique when it came to handling the short pitched stuff and his lackadaisical fielding always overshadowed his superlative offside strokes which very few in the game could match. This is not to take away the positive attributes ingrained in him. Leadership skills is on such area where he actually left a mark and was instrumental in making India get back to winning ways on overseas tours by backing youth and discovering quite a few talented cricketers.
But, the unfortunate slump in form for extended period and ongoing skirmishes with Greg Chappel on Zimbabwe tour, blew open the Pandora’s box and gave clues to what actually was ailing Sourav’s form. From there, began his excruciating journey. One side had, media hounding him with awkward questions and cricket experts pronouncing the end of his tryst with International cricket and on the other were his staunch supporters from Bengal taking to the streets, protesting against the injustice meted out by BCCI. Chappel and Kiran More (then Chairman of Selectors) were looked upon as the men responsible for keeping the Bengal Tiger at bay. From captaining the side, to being labeled as a disintegrating force in the team, he was finally relegated to playing domestic cricket and made to prove his mettle with the bat again.
It would have been easier to hang up his boots and call it quits rather than facing the brewing storm of criticism and lamenting public. Instead, he left no stone unturned in proving to the cynics that he is made of steel. Remaining unruffled and maintaining composure in such trying circumstance is a huge task. I just wonder how nerve racking it would have been each time he stepped on the ground to bat whilst he knew each failure would push him further into oblivion. Imagine the kind of ego pounding and embarrassment he had to sustain to be playing alongside second rung cricketers who once looked upon him with awe.
Any faint hearted person would have crumbled under the scathing attack from all quarters but true to his bestowed title, Saurav maintained the rhetoric in his interviews that he still had few years of cricket left in him and fought the lonely battle to stage a comeback like a tiger. Come to imagine his plight of being marooned by his own Indian team mates who never were forthcoming in patting his back because there was a lurking fear of being castigated for belonging to Saurav’s camp. Nevertheless, his resolute nature and belief in his capabilities saw him gaining in confidence with each domestic game he played which contributed significantly to Bengal’s team cause.
Of course, the change in regime of selection panel and induction of Colonel Vengsarkar as Chairman brought about a fresh leash of hope for Saurav who by then had a string of strong performances to show. And, how could all the hard work go in vein. The results fructified in the form of a berth in Team India test squad. This came at a time when India had a sound drubbing against South Africa in ODI’s and needed an experienced player who could provide solidity in batting line up. Not only was it a golden opportunity to cement his place in the team but also to get back at all the critics who wrote him off.
And, what a comeback it was. There was determination writ large on his face and one could see a totally changed persona of this cricketer. Showing remarkable patience while at the crease, willing to grind it out for the team cause and shouldering immense responsibility was his hallmark. He not only justified his place in the team but also silenced his detractors thus bringing to the fore his commitment towards the game and accurate judgement of his where-withal.
Since then, he hasn’t looked back. With brilliant knocks under his belt both against Srilanka and West Indies, he now looks all set to make an indelible mark on the world cup stage. Whether it was the jolt of being dropped from the team or having to prove a point that did the trick is difficult to say. But in all earnestness, emerging victorious against all adversity is no mean feat and I am sure Saurav’s stature as a cricketer must have gone quite a few notches higher in the eyes of India fans.