The Maharajah’s Last Bow – Article By a Cricket Fan on the Last day of Sourav’s International Cricket
Over the course of a long career, Ganguly has amassed more detractors than fans but even they would not accuse the Prince of Kolkata of lacking spunk.
Ganguly burst into the international scene as a 24 year old, with a 100 in his debut match at Lords. That knock provided us with a first glimpse of the fighter he was.Ganguly was always a figher. When he emerged onto the scenes, Indian cricket was mostly associated with one Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. The match fixing scandal and the subsequent sacking of Azhar and Jadeja gave him a chance to emerge as a prominent member of the Indian squad eclispising the introverted Dravid who was also making a name for himself through his batting. Within 4 years of his joining the Indian team, Ganguly had established himself so well that after Sachin resigned following his disastrous captaincy stint, he was the automatic choice for captain, over senior members like Kumble. Ganguly’s stint as captain marked the coming of age of India as a team. For the first time Indians were being known for giving as good as they got. Not always politically correct and with an uncanny knack of ruffling feahers where ever he went and rubbing people the wrong way, Ganguly nevertheless helped the Indian team achieve some of its potential with a 2nd spot in the World cup being the high point of his captaincy. He was a reliable middle order batsman in tests. In ODIs, along with Sachin, he became one half of one of the most successful opening pairs ever.
Ganguly’s loss of form co-incided with Chappel’s coaching stint and a media hungry nation made the most of it. Taking turns to crucify first Ganguly and then Chappel equally, the media fought the battle from both sides. Rumours spread, e-mails were leaked and players and officials interacted mostly through the media. Something had to give and the new selectors decided to side with the new coach instead of a tried and tested captain and Ganguly was sacked as captain. His in-different form didnt help the matter either and soon he was struggling for a place in the team. Most players would have given up then. Not Ganguly. His subsequent come back in the team is an example for any struggling player.
But he had been tainted once and it did not rub away easily. His commitment was constantly questioned, his form forever under the scanner. Of all the senior members in the team, his place was the least granted. Every series he played, he was on tenterhooks. Only his constant performances kept him in the team for so long. But there’s only so long you can prove something to people. With years of playing behind you, you feel you deserve some sort of security and respect. Being dropped and re-picked time and time again while others maintained their spots despite similar form began to rankle. Not being picked for the rest of India side was the last straw.
You see, he finally understood that it was not a question of showing that he still had it in him to score a century. That was for the world to see. He understood that he would forever be on trial no matter what he did. So he chose to go on his own terms, one of the best descisions he ever made. One last century and a couple of good scores in this tournament will remind everyone of his class. The royal bengal tiger roared for one last time. Unfortunatley, in his last test he missed a century and his last innings was a first ball duck but as he walked the last walk to the dressing room, the Prince had every reason to hold his head high.