Sourav Ganguly an all time Bengali-Kokatan love affair, writes Boria Majumdar

Boria Majumdar writes Sourav Ganguly (above) evokes memories, creates nostalgia and is a kind of romance © AFP

Kolkata: Jul 8, 2013
 
Cricket historian Boria Majumdar on Monday wrote down why former India captain Sourav Ganguly is still loved and regarded highly despite having retired from international cricket for almost five years now.
 
Majumdar wrote, “Every possible Bengali still loves to remember him as a twenty plus young man taking Lord’s by storm in the damp early English summer morning of June 1996. Yes it was some 17 years back on 20 June 1996 but for us in Kolkata it is still as fresh a memory as India’s Champions Trophy win. Pushed up the order to number three in an attempt to expose him to the most challenging of conditions, Sourav Ganguly’s initiation into Test cricket was real baptism by fire.”
 
“The stage was thus set for the single biggest Bengali fairytale in sport. With little tradition in comparison to Mumbai to fall back on, Sourav, by his talent and cultivated aggression, turned himself from being a flavour of Kolkata to a flavour of the world,” Majumdar wrote in Times of India.
 
Majumdar mentioned how Ganguly single-handedly built the foundation for Indian cricket on which the present skipper MS Dhoni has built a superstructure.
 
“Without going into the debate if he is the best ever man to have led India, suffice it to say that Sourav gave us teeth and muscle away from home. Crossing the Indian shores meant nothing to him as he handheld Indian cricket to maturity. He built the foundation on which MS Dhoni has now built the superstructure.”
 
For every Bengali, Ganguly evokes certain nostalgia, mixed with romanticism, according to Majumdar.
“Not without reason then is Sourav an all time Bengali/Kolkatan love affair. And here I very much include the Diaspora into the fold. He evokes memories, creates nostalgia and is a kind of romance many few are.”
 
The cricket historian recalled Ganguly leading the team in Australia, beating the hosts and scoring 144. However, he pointed out that more than anything,Ganguly hated cowardice and how he turned a young team into street smart boys.
 
“Beating the Australians hollow on his way to scoring 144 at Brisbane in 2003-4, Sourav had curated a new Indian cricket lexicon in which the word ‘cowardice’ was hated and loathed. That, more than anything, was his single biggest contribution. He turned a group of talented youth into aggressive street smart boys for that was the need of the hour.”
 
“And this, believe it or not, was against his character. Knowing Sourav well for close to two decades now, I can safely say that the aggression we have come to associate with him on the field was a ‘put on’ persona. Sourav isn’t the aggressive type. He is polite and gentle, soft spoken and all grace socially. For the sake of Indian cricket he had to convert himself into a bit of a bully, one who would brook no failure from his boys and tolerate no nonsense from the opposition.”
 
Majumdar further added, “This isn’t a piece about Sourav’s cricket career. Million pieces have been written about it and another million will surely follow. Rather, this is about Sourav the Kolkatan, his draw as a transnational icon who continues to be associated with Kolkata. He is Kolkata’s single biggest box office globally and that for me is his real USP. And this has been made possible because Sourav has achieved the best of what he has in the two most hostile media environments in the world, England and Australia. He is revered in England and admired in Australia. So much so that the MCC has invited him as special guest to watch the second Ashes Test match at Lord’s starting mid July. Sourav, more than any other cricketer, is a story, a multi-layered one with many shades to it. That constitutes his real appeal and perhaps makes it universal.”
 
 Majumdar also wrote about Ganguly’s role as a commentator.
 
“As a commentator too he has already carved out a niche of his own. Objective yet pertinent, rational yet constructively critical, Sourav has brought a fresh way to commentary. He isn’t a jester like Navjot Singh Sidhu nor an over patriotic nationalist like Michael Vaughan. He is cricket commentary’s voice of reason, a voice that is already much respected and appreciated globally. And most importantly it continues to be the voice of Kolkata.”
 
“Be it his accent, his tastes, his demeanour and his conduct, there’s a Kolkata stamp to it all. He is unafraid of being different and that explains his wearing a thick black Macintosh inside the press box at Edgbaston during the Champions Trophy. The ‘bakira ki bolbe’ [What will others say] syndrome was never something Sourav cared for and that has helped him be his own man in the circuit.”

 Majumdar mentioned about an incident when former England skipper Nasser Hussain took a dig at Ganguly.
 
“One example will sum it up the best. Commentating with Nasser Hussain during the India-Sri Lanka semi-final at Cardiff in the recently concluded Champions Trophy, Hussain took a friendly dig at Sourav for a bet he had won saying Sourav owed him a pound. Sourav’s retort was a killer punch. If memory serves me right this is what he said, “When it comes to cricket, betting for me was never in question Nasser…” It was a loaded comment to say the least, which, more than anything would appeal to the Indian sentiment against the backdrop of what all has transpired off late.”
 
“A man whose life story can well serve as a management lesson for the best management graduates, has so far stayed away from penning his life story. This, I’d say, is a disservice. It is a story that generations will love to read and learn from. It is a story that will always be the flavour of Kolkata. Wish you a very happy 41st birthday,” he concluded.