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Happy Birthday – Sourav Ganguly

India is a secular country where people of multiple religions, cultures and languages coexist. Sometimes, differences crop up amongst these people leading to some disharmony. However, this country has one religion that has always unified each and every Indian together – it is the religion of Cricket. We always have had the habit of turning Cricketers into demi Gods.

If the icons of Indian Cricket would have had a Cabinet of their own, Sourav Chandidas Ganguly, born this date (8th July 1972), would surely have held one of the topmost spots.  Popular to his teammates and even the nation as “Dada” (elder brother), he was the person who ushered in aggression to our players games. We never lacked in ability and skill sets; we just weren’t up to it mentally, particularly when we toured foreign countries. The self-belief that the Team could deliver consistently outside Home conditions developed under his leadership.

So, what do we talk about one of the finest left-handed batsmen and arguably one of the best captains that India has produced? If statistics were to be discussed, many a Sourav Ganguly fan who I bet are part of this readers circle, would beat me hands down. So, lets talk about some of his traits that defined his tenure as captain and went on to endear him to the rest of the world.

He took over the role of Captaincy during Indian Cricket’s most trying times, when match fixing was threatening to uproot the foundation of this team. In his very first series of ODI matches against South Africa, the beleaguered team was inspired to rise to the occasion and win a closely fought series against South Africa. This brought back the confidence of the fan towards the team and the game was back on track in India.

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His confidence in developing a team centered around experienced as well as young cricketers and backing his team to the core has almost become folklore in the cricketing circles. Just look at some of the names that were introduced under his Captaincy – Virender Sehwag, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Mohammad Kaif, each of these players have left a significant, even iconic impact, on Indian cricket. Each of these cricketers also endorse how their Dada would fight against the selectors to ensure that his team got an extended run, to deliver their potential.

Cricket is touted as a Gentleman’s game but the Aussies and the English in particular have been known to always play it the hard way. The Indian teams in the past had been known to not give back the hard way to whatever was being thrown at them, other than the cricket ball. Ganguly changed all that – here was a man who could even make the legendary Steve Waugh wait for him at the toss, who could give opponent cricketers an earful if they tried intimidation or diversionary tactics and who can forget the paybacks that he delivered – particularly to Andrew Flintoff and the English team, when he pulled out his shirt and waved it bare chested from the Lords Balcony. To many, it became the new identity of Indian Cricket. Even now, in his stint as BCCI President, he is not averse to taking challenging decisions that are only aimed at improving the game for the Indian as well as global perspective.

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So, Happy 48th Birthday Dada – May you lead a long and healthy life and continue serving Indian cricket for decades – You may be able to think of life away from Cricket but Indian Cricket and Indian Cricket fans cannot think of a life without the involvement of the “Prince of Calcutta”.

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