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Sleepless Sourav to quit after Oz series

The former India captain Sourav Ganguly said he would retire from international cricket at the end of the upcoming four-Test series against Australia, reports Pradeep Magazine.For the record | Do you think this is the right time for India's most successful captain to bid adieu? | Surfers' Response

cricket Updated: Oct 08, 2008 08:50 IST

The sound of bat whacking ball would have Chandidas Ganguly waking up with a start in the middle of the night, only to find son Sourav batting in the drawing room with the domestic help bowling to him.

“My son has gone mad,” the father would say and tell his wife to get her son to realise that there is life beyond cricket as well. But his mother never had the heart to tell her son that it was all over and “he could never make it back to the Indian team”.

Sourav Ganguly not only made a comeback to the Indian team, he even recreated that magic with his bat, the magic that had made him one of India’s best batsmen of all time. In many ways, Sourav had redeemed himself in his own eyes and more importantly, in the eyes of the world, after Greg Chappell’s diatribe to the effect that “Sourav is a disruptive element and divides the team” had left him hurt, bitter and humiliated — far more than his ouster from the team in 2005.

When he was recalled in 2006, sceptics doubted whether Sourav had it in him to make runs at the top level . The pressure was excruciating and most would have fallen by the wayside. But not Sourav. Under pressure he told himself: “When I made my debut, I had nothing to convince myself that I could succeed at the international level. Today I know I have done it before, so why should I not be able to do it again?”

That logic worked. For the past year or so, he had been a very satisfied man, though getting dropped from the one-day squad did not go down well with him. He believed he had done enough, made enough runs, to play in the one-day series in Australia. If he would have had any inkling that he wouldn't be picked, he would have called it a day in the shorter version of the game instead of getting dropped.

Despite his poor run against the Lankans, he never expected to be on the chopping block again in the Tests. He was not the lone batting failure in Sri Lanka, and when he heard he would likely not be selected for the Australia series, he was extremely upset. He had gone through this before and when the media started talking about a deal being struck between the Board and him, Sourav felt terribly betrayed again.

Over this fortnight gone by, he found it difficult to sleep, wondering again and again, why he was invariably the first player to be targeted. Memories of the bitter past resurfaced, and the man who led India to their most Test wins and had made one of the most memorable comebacks in the history of the game, felt humiliated yet again.

Unlike in the past though, age had taken its toll on Sourav's body, mind and spirit. The man who always thrived on pressure and had fought and won many battles in splendid isolation, could take it no more.

The day he got selected for the Australian series, he told his friends, "I will be retiring very soon."

Today, he made his intentions public with a characteristic smile. He has cleared a huge burden from his mind and, ironically, for the first time in his career, he would be playing with a freedom reserved only for newborns.

First Published: Oct 07, 2008 16:28 IST