Roller-coaster Ride With Ganguly
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Roller-coaster Ride With Ganguly

Love him or hate him. No present Indian cricketer evokes such extreme reactions as does the present captain, Sourav Ganguly.

india Updated: Feb 17, 2003 14:32 IST

No present Indian cricketer evokes such extreme reactions as does Sourav Ganguly.

There are fanatical fans who believe he can do nothing wrong and an equal number of detractors for whom he is just an arrogant, egoistic and spoiled cricketer.

Not without reasons though as the man is full of contrasts.

"In a single day he can provoke exasperation, infuriation and congratulations... (Sourav) is a mixture of dashing cricketer, disdainful aristocrat, protesting youth, charming socialiser, glorious leader and fierce competitor," wrote Peter Roebuck, one of the most respected modern-day cricket writers.

Very much like his personality, his cricketing career also has a number of contrasting shades -- all of which are sought to be captured in a new book 'Sourav - A Biography' by Gulu Ezekiel, the first of its kind in English.

"The last ten years have certainly been a roller-coaster ride for Ganguly, from teenage prodigy to pariah to captain of the Indian cricket team. Along the way, there have been hurdles, struggles, blunders, triumphs, pitfalls and heartbreak -- all the ingredients of a classic soap opera," the author writes.

Considering what he has achieved in international cricket -- both as a player and as captain -- there is very little literature available on Ganguly, though there has never been a dearth of newsprint devoted to him.

Like in his previous book, the author has once again avoided personal interactions with his subject, apparently to provide an unbiased and balanced story.

There are a few quotes from Ganguly's early coaches, state teammates and former Bengal players as also the cricketer's own sound-bites from media interviews from time to time.

Ezekiel's treatment of the present subject is fundamentally different from his work on Sachin. The present book copiously incorporates match reports and tour analysis; and as such, if it falls short of a biography it certainly offers readers facts and views that can prove useful for a failure writer.

The author gives Ganguly a tremendous vote of confidence, especially in his role as skipper of the Indian team, "the second most difficult job in the country, after that of the Prime Minister", as he puts it.

Calling him the 'players' captain', the author credits Ganguly with backing his teammates and extracting the best out of them.

"While youngsters like Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif and Virender Sehwag have been backed and encouraged by their leader, Ganguly has also shown the courage to put some of the established stars in their place.

"And he has been largely vindicated by the fact that most of his moves have paid off."

The book also acknowledges Ganguly's role in instilling the "killer instinct" in the team which it so far lacked. "The steel forged in the cauldron of the 2001 Kolkata Test (against Australia) has stood the team in good stead. The captain's elusive eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with the toughest in the business has transformed the face of Indian cricket.

"That elusive 'killer instinct' which we always bemoaned was lacking in our sportspersons is now an integral part of the Indian cricket team. It has been passed down from the captain to his teammates. Along the way, there have been many who have been alienated by Ganguly's uncompromising style, particularly match-referees, umpires, rival captains and the foreign media."

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First Published: Feb 16, 2003 09:00 IST