Friday, November 18, 2011

The Uncrowned Prince


This article is also featured in http://scganguly.com/2011/11/uncrowned-prince/


How many times has a man’s journey been more important than the destination he reached?  The answer lies in a grey area between “perhaps none” & “maybe someone”. It is because the beauty & struggle of a journey is epitomised by the height of the destination achieved. It is the destination that makes a mortal immortalised, metamorphose a survivor to a winner and convert a prince to an emperor. It is what demarcates a “would be” to an “icon”. They are the “greats” who adorn the yellow pages of history and survive the tiring test of time. They are “Demigods” for their destinations catapult them to a league where common man can only look up at them with awe struck aspiration.

And then there are “legends”. Men who reside in the hearts of people. Stories are never written about them but recounted numerous times through memories, passed onto different generations such that they become an epic themselves. It’s their journey that defines an era. It’s their walk that stands as the destination, for a destination can be reached, but a journey cannot be emulated. They are fallible, but their failures make them human. They can be loved, hated, tainted and adored all at the same time. They prefer to remain the “uncrowned prince” forever.

Such is the journey of a man whom we know as Saurav Ganguly. Some love to call him “The Prince of Kolkata”, for some he is “Lord Snooty”, some revere him as the “God in offside”, others simply dismiss him as a mediocre fielder, for his fans he is “Dada”, for his critics just an “on the record” successful Indian captain idolised by Bengalis. With Saurav, everyone has an opinion, every judgement stands to define him and yet they seem incomplete. It may be partly because the legend of Saurav was never quantified. Statistics are reserved for the great for it’s the mind boggling numbers that record their supremacy through an era. Inspite of being the 6th highest run grosser in Test cricket & 2nd highest run scorer in ODI’s for India (5th highest in ODI in world cricket), numbers have least defined Saurav. The annals of history will always remember him as the maker of a resurgent Indian team broken free from the shackles of “antiquated cricket” that young India indentifies with today.

Saurav as a cricketer may soon fade from the transient memories of die hard cricket lovers. No “Wisden” can ever record his elegant offside strokes that seemed like an artist expression of freedom. He brazenly poked and lavishly drived. He danced in his crease and lofted the red cherry to thank the Gods. His offside strokes created awe and leg side pulls invoked humour sometimes. He loved the spinners and the quickies loved him. Anyone in his generation who could bowl 130kmph+ had taken a shy at his head. But then “icons” are built with numbers; not with their “presence”! “Presence” is for the mere mortal who displays his bare-chested antics in the revered Lord’s balcony to inspire a generation to lead. But alas statistics don’t record inspiration too!

On records, Saurav was never the best batsman to strut the cricketing arena and definitely not the fittest, his bowling was a fluke and as a fielder he was often awful. He was also not amongst the greatest captains to hold the World Cup ever in his hands. For the pundits, the discussion ends there. For the lovers of the game, that is where the charisma of Saurav emerges. A battle hardened warlord who helped a generation to dream big. He despised the mundaneness of the gentleman’s game and made it a man’s game. He backed his warriors and they never disappointed him. He himself had risen to fall and fallen to rise again, like the phoenix in Egyptian tales. A punching bag that always comes back to you no matter how hard you hit it. He had a passion that cannot be quoted in words and his emotions never cheated on him even when he clings to his numerous Gods when they seemed the only hope. The world of cricket was never dull with the antics of Saurav around. 

Captainship came to him with Indian cricket rocked in match fixing saga and the “God” himself deciding to step down. In addition was a baggage of a billion expectations, an unsettled test opening pair, half a dozen poor seamers, one able spinner and few mediocre wicket keepers. When the evening of his captainship dawned, he left a team with a subtle mix of youth, experience, insatiable hunger and fearlessness to the core called “Team India”. And as they say, in between was history. History that was good and history that was far worse. A king stripped of his kingdom but refused to surrender his throne, refusing to bow down to the corridors of power. But that was always the man we knew, the man the nation revered, the fallacies of being human. He had to go, but none knew how, for somehow he always came back at you. 

The evening, Saurav strutted the arena for the last time, few heaved relief, many angered by the way he was cornered and yet happy that the pain had ceased, millions with a hope that the man will bounce back and billions disappointed to see the lone surviving tiger wounded and bloodied with his countless battles walking towards the endless night. But then with so much blood spilled, how much fight did the man had left in him?
Cricket will never miss Saurav, for there are many “greats” to stand tall and slug it in the record books. But then, the people who make cricket worth its dough will always miss the legend who was more than the game. Someone who exemplified the beauty of cricket beyond the 22 yards. Someday, the truth will soon give way to a myth of a mystical warrior who once walked past the mortal names in the arena of the champions. He would remain the “uncrowned prince” forever.

P.S. – Sachin will always remain the best cricketer the world has ever seen and M.S. Dhoni the rightful heir to the captainship.


This article is also featured in http://scganguly.com/2011/11/uncrowned-prince/

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1 comments:

mamta said...

rahul dravid always have been a wonderful player and a decent man who always have control in his emotions whether it is about his sadness and happiness.you presented the fact very well.

and DADA always knew how to unite the team and that was a real victory for the players.a team spirit and a spirit of the player who says we will try next time for more better performance.

really amazing post!!

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