Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Bradmanesque end...

Disclaimer: This post is not to be read in the context of cricket. Views expressed in this blog are purely non judgmental and has nothing to do with cricketing ring tones.

Cricket lovers around the world would pause and move on. If you are an Indian cricket fan, please wait, cherish and look back with grace and respect.
But, if you are a Bengali, shed a few tears.

I am not being a regional divider, neither am I trying to sound like a Ganguly fan. But, people outside Bengal would never be able to realize the importance of this man simply because of the emotion he evoked every time he crossed the boundary. It’s not easy to be an icon and that too for around 700 million Bengalis who starved for an icon, leave alone any sports person. In these 13 years, he has remained the idol looked through every charismatic glass. Whenever those drives flew from his bat, his square cuts kissed the rope or his sixes ridiculed the enormity of the stadium – somewhere in our heart we felt a satisfaction. It is hard to convey the ecstasy and the joy of a population so devoid of their own leader. And, hence this person, with his entire unbengali attitude has given hope to people who dares to dream of something new.
To put into perspective, Sourav’s contribution to cricket is the story of a rebellion, of a player who represented those who never thought of coming to the limelight, of those who always stopped at the closed door, never broke it open. It might not give birth to another Sourav, but it would definitely inspire a lot more of them to dare to dream the unthinkable. It’s an irony that he represented Bengal because none of his character and skill is like normal Bengalis. His fight, never say die attitude, rebellion nature – everything defies the goody-goody intellectual typecast of a Bengali. And that’s why he is so dear to every Bengali’s heart. It’s through him that they fulfilled their dream, it’s his shots that gave them the power and it’s his captaincy that reminded us that once upon a time, we used to lead the whole India – both politically and academically. In a sense, it is poignant that another person form the same region has taken over the mantle of this fight – to see that regionalism is no more a feature of Indian cricket.

I am not a Ganguly fan, but I respect his contribution both to Indian cricket and to Bengalis in general. Being a Bengali, I can’t help but support him, shout for him and I do it because I find a sense of joy while seeing him ridicule others. His fight inspires me and I hope it inspires Bengalis worldwide. On a day when he is leaving the stage, it would be a fitting farewell if we could follow his path.
As a cricketer he never got the due. He neither had the genius of Sachin, nor had the technique of Rahul. He converted many a player into match winners, yet never looked for support. He is neither as dare devil as Shewag nor as artistic as VVS. Yet it’s him who is associated with the best of all of them. A few years down the line, when he would casually watch India playing, he would be proud to see his selections bearing fruit. People will remember Dhoni, Harbhajan, Yuvraj or Zaheer – yet we should be proud that somehow a Bengali who was thrown out of the team on numerous occasions and who made more enemies than friends was responsible for this future.

On this day, after watching him play for so long, the next time I see a team India list, I would feel a lump. But, as all good things come to an end, so is Ganguly. For most of the Bengalis (barring a few) he would be above all others, including one Mr. Tendulkar, because his contribution to our conscious could never be judged through statistics.
He is to Bengal was Bradman was to Australia in post WW 2 period.