Saturday, November 1, 2008


I am not exactly a cricket fan, although I enjoy reading short articles about cricket – not just cricket matches; I read about cricket politics too, which, in the subcontinent in particular, can indeed be much more fun than many cricket matches. I have sometimes watched international cricket matches for an hour or two, especially when India was playing. And when it comes to Sourav Ganguli, I have always been interested in him, which should not be surprising - me coming from the neighbourhood of West Bengal. But I am no fan of his – not at all! Perhaps he is a great cricketer, perhaps he is not; I am not one who is knowledgeable about the nuances of the game to say anything with confidence in this regard, but if records are anything to go by, then he is certainly someone to be reckoned with. When he announced his retirement from international cricket, I knew I was going to miss him.

It’s not that he will readily fade into oblivion as far as cricket is concerned. Far from it. He will appear, perhaps more often and considerably longer, than he often did as he batted. He will be seen in the commentator’s box, and in the cricket field too offering expert advice to players, and telling children in cricket academies how to improve their game, and he will give expert opinion after the day’s match. We will know his views on cricketing matters, not excluding cricket politics, hopefully, from the columns he will write, and from the numerous interviews he will surely give to many channels.

Where I am going to miss him is in the discourse on cricket. There was ever so much talk around him. He was the subject of talk when he played well, and he was equally the subject of talk when he did not. His selection for the national team was as much the subject of debate as his non-selection. What he said was as much something to write about as what he did not, and what he evaded. Soon after he announced his retirement a distinguished parliamentarian from his home state made a statement suggesting that he had literally been forced into it, thereby opening up possibilities of some debate. One hardly knows, let alone talk about, the godfathers and detractors, real or perceived, of cricketers except when it came to Sourav’s. His spat with Greg Chapell was interesting discourse because of him; if many more wanted to hear his story rather than Greg’s, it probably had little or even nothing to do with cricket.

He attracted controversy, generated debate, and he was the one to talk about. And I must say with confidence that he had absolutely no competition from any cricketer who played with him (and who did not, too) in this respect. When he retires from international cricket, he will cease to be the subject of cricketing discourse in India. And this is where I am going to miss him.

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