The journey of Sourav Ganguly as a cricketer is an inspiration for any individual irrespective of whether he follows cricket or not. In fact it is a great example showcasing the fact that Cricket has always been a great leveler .
From being dropped by the selectors in 1992 citing he had attitude problems till being elected unanimously as the BCCI President, the saga of Sourav Ganguly has an aura of its own. The journey not only touches every emotion and phase of a human life but also gives us a life lesson that all obstacles are meant to be overcome sooner or later. Infact I would like to classify his timeline based on the lessons that have inspired me.
● The Comeback after an unlikely debut:
After being sidelined after his debut match against the West Indies at Brisbane, Sourav Ganguly returned back to the domestic circuit and scored heavily. His hard work eventually paid off and he was recalled back in the Test Squad in England in 1996. Ganguly was handed a test debut in Lords in testing conditions and he went on to score a magnificent 131 in his debut. With this innings, Sourav Ganguly marked his arrival in International Cricket and it went on to become the first of the major comebacks he made in his career.
Lesson: We should always wait for the right moment in life and make sure to not let it go…
● Dawn of the leader:
Cut straight to 1999-00, when Indian Cricket was marred by match fixing scandals. Indian Cricket was in all time low and to make the matter worse, Sachin Tendulkar too stepped down from Team India's captaincy. Indian Cricket needed a leader that would take Indian cricket forward and that's when Sourav Ganguly stepped in.
Team India under Ganguly marked the beginning of a new chapter in Indian Cricket. The team under Ganguly played a different brand of cricket that symbolized by character and fighting spirit. There were numerous highs under his captaincy such as winning the 2001 Test series against Australia, the NatWest Trophy triumph, runners up in the 2003 World Cup to name a few. In fact it was Ganguly who brought in aggression in Indian cricket which is prevalent even now.
Lesson: One should never back out from the responsiblities, instead should try to excel with it
●The fall from the peak to the alltime low:
It was in 2004–05 season. Sourav Ganguly was on his way to become the greatest captain of modern day cricket. He was eyeing the 2007 World Cup and with the emergence of players like Ms Dhoni, Irfan Pathan etc, Ganguly was slowly solving the last pieces of the Jigsaw puzzle. But as destiny had other plans. Ganguly fell out with then Indian coach Greg Chapell. And to make the matter worse, his own form took a dip. As a result of which, Ganguly was ousted from Team India’s captaincy and was even dropped from the team subsequently. This marked the end of the captaincy stint of Sourav Ganguly.
Lesson: Life is a great leveler. One should be always mentally prepared to embrace the lows like the highs.
● The Epic Comeback:
Ganguly returned back to domestic circuit and scored runs but was overlooked. There were even people suggesting him to retire but the Prince of Kolkata fought on. Finally after toiling hard for 10 months, Ganguly made a comeback in the test team in South Africa in 2006 and scored a valiant 73 in the bouncy pitches. It seemed like he had put a price on his wicket and was not ready to get out easily . Later on, he was again recalled in the ODI setup and he continued to impress. This period was marked as one of the most charismatic comebacks of all time by Sourav Ganguly.
Lesson: Never give up on your dreams even if people consider you to be unworthy. Work hard to achieve it.
● The Last Hurrah:
2007 was the year of Sourav Ganguly. He scored his first 200 in Tests and also his first 100 in his homeground Eden Gardens in that year. He also ended up being the second highest run getter in ODIs just behind Jacques Kallis. India had a disastrous 2007 World Cup in West Indies but Ganguly ended up being the second highest run getter for his team in that tournament. He also won the match of the series against Sri Lanka and his opening combination with Sachin Tendulkar again started making wonders.
Lesson: One should make the most of the opportunities available to them.
● The Ultimate leaf in his playing book:
However with age not in his side and Ms Dhoni not keen on playing seniors for the marquee event of 2011 World Cup, Ganguly was not selected for limited overs setup in Australia for the CB Series 2008. It was at this moment that Ganguly decided to call it a quit. In the 2008 test series against Australia, Sourav Ganguly decided to hang up his boots.
Lesson: Time and tide waits for none.
● Ganguly 2.0:
After retirement, Sourav Ganguly played in the IPL till 2012. Post retirement from IPL did commentary for a brief period and was elected as the President of CAB in 2015. Ganguly was also one of the three members of the CAC and was responsible in electing the head coaches for Indian team.Later on he went on to become the BCCI President in 2019. And I won't be surprised if someday he dawns the hat of ICC President.
Lesson: With great power comes great responsibility. One should be always prepared for the next leap of faith.
Happy 49th Birthday to the Prince of Kolkata, Sourav Ganguly.