Thursday, August 10, 2006

Sourav Ganguly: One Last Fling


Sourav Ganguly is back. Not quite. He has found his place in the 30-man preliminary team for the Champions Trophy, selected by our four wise men. After all the rumors about how the team management has insisted for a shorter list of 22-25 to keep Sourav out of contention, his inclusion must have raised a few eyebrows here and there.

Whether Sourav is going to make the final cut is a trillion dollar question. If the past is any indication, and Greg Chappell still serving as the commander in chief, he's a long shot by miles. For committed Sourav worshippers, this seems to be the beginning of a new episode of a Salim-Javedesque drama, the familiar script ending in a forlorn fashion.

To the selectors, I say, you could have spared him the trouble. You never gave the man the respect he deserves. The least you could do is to leave him alone. How I wish.

The man himself makes no bones about his wishes to play in the next year's world cup. Of course if wishes are horses beggars would ride. That doesn't make Sourav exactly a beggar, that puts him in the not-so-glorious family of cricketers who never quite made it to the big stage but have always been picked to fill the last couple of slots only to be dumped later. Which is a shame, for he should have known better. He's a smart guy. I find it hard to believe he failed to read the writing on the wall. The only explanation is his failure to keep his gargantuan ego under check.

But hey, we've been through this charade before. So much so, it became comical till he got unceremoniously dumped after playing a few fighting knocks. He must have kicked himself goddamn hard when he failed to build on the starts during the Sri Lanka and Pakistan series. At least a couple of fifties would have ensured his place in the squad and the obituaries written since then would have been put on hold, for the time being.

Never mind. That he's back again in the form of probables is already making the headlines. He may not be good for cricket any more, but he's still good enough for grabbing the attention. The funny thing about probability which works so well for the casinos in Vegas, is, you are considered a winner till you become a loser. And Sourav--the last optimist standing, might have started looking for flight tickets to the Caribbean next summer.

When he was dropped after the Pakistan series, I felt bad for him because he looked assured and confident. He didn't go on to score big but was hitting the ball well.

Now, he's playing pathetic. He has failed miserably in the county cricket. It might as well be a rough patch for all I know but the timing of his inclusion makes no sense at all. For one, he's out of form, and secondly, this doesn't quite endorse the looking forward theory the selectors so wanted to us to believe.

But of course, it is only a list of probables. Not the final cut. Not even the playing eleven. And make no mistake--he's not going to make it to either sparing a divine intervention, which is why seeing him on the list made me very confused. And disturbed.

We are not talking about anyone who can be picked and dumped at will or wisdom or under influence. We are not talking about a Joe Nobody. We are not even talking about any freaked out, pig-head piece of tripe.

We are talking about the most successful skipper in the history of Indian cricket and therefore I have a problem.

I love him. I adore him. He's one of the best things that ever happened to the Indian Cricket — give credit to Chappell and Rahul if you must, but the truth is, they are building on the solid foundations laid by Ganguly and Wright. I will go as far as saying that he saved cricket from the match fixing scandal by invoking the much needed naked passion and love for the game on the playing field.

Love him, hate him. There is no middle ground. He's no fake. He's the anti-hero of the Indian cricket, as much as big B was in the 70s hindi movies.

The record speaks for him. History speaks for him. You will tell your grandchildren the stories of the holy trinity - Sachin, Sourav and Rahul. That says a lot about the man who has been mercilessly vilified by the mainstream media except those from Kolkata where he is still a dear icon.

He's even few months younger than me - so technically he always had my blessings.

I didn't want to see him back. His legacy is secured. He's been a terrific servant of Indian cricket. And he cared. He deserved a better farewell into the sunset. It is not his fault that he didn't get one. We failed to bid him a grateful goodbye.

We moved on. Now tell me again--why is he here?

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