Sourav Ganguly turns 44 today: Tracking his journey from batsman to administrator
A seamless transformation is a beautiful thing. India’s former captain Sourav Ganguly, the ‘god on the offside’ now dons a suit, walks with confidence, attends conferences, writes speeches, takes decisions, and makes a difference. Much like his playing career when he made a difference whenever he took stance and faced up to a bowler, especially if he was a left-arm spinner, he is making a difference today as President of the Cricket Association of Bengal, as Chairman of the Technical Committee of the BCCI, as a member of the Cricket Advisory Committee, as a member of the IPL governing council, he is making a difference in the world of cricket.
Rarely has anyone made such a seamless transformation in their professional careers as Sourav Ganguly has in the past few years.
The ‘Prince of Calcutta’s’ journey is one that has been well documented. From making a return to international cricket years as a 24 year old, 5 years after being dropped for being perceived to be too ‘arrogant’ to being involved in a stir with Ravi Shastri after playing a role in picking Anil Kumble as the coach of the Indian Cricket Team, his has been a journey in the spotlight for over 20 years.
Sourav Ganguly - The batsman
His return to international cricket was one covered in glory. On his return Test, he smashed 131 in Lord’s, the highest score by a debutant at ‘the home of cricket’ and followed it with 136 in the very next Test in Trent Bridge. If someone had to write a script capturing the story of one of the best Test match batsmen ever, it would start something like this. It wasn’t to be however for Ganguly. While he played a number of great knocks in Test cricket, like his 144 in the first Test at Brisbane in 2003-2004, his 239 against Pakistan in Bangalore in 2007 and 83 on his return to the Test team against South Africa in 2006, his Test career never reached the heights of some of his compatriots.
In ODI cricket was where Ganguly made his name as one of the most destructive openers in the game. Forming a dream opening partnership with Sachin Tendulkar, Ganguly went on to amass century after century in a great period for him personally in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The duo went on to score 6362 runs together, a world record with 20 century stands, another world record. He played his last ODI against Pakistan in 2007, finishing with over 10,000 runs as his legacy confirmed as one of the best ODI players ever. The less said about his career in the shortest format of the game, the better.
Sourav Ganguly - The leader
Ganguly undoubtedly made his name as captain of the Indian Cricket Team, where he was largely responsible for a revolution in the way that India played cricket. He infused the team with a certain steel, brought through young players that would form the backbone of the Indian team for years to come and most importantly, made the team believe. He led the team to the finals of the 2000 ICC KnockOut Trophy and the 2003 World Cup, both of which would end in heartbreak. In Test matches played away from home, the Ganguly-led team India was quite successful, winning more games than they lost. The legacy he left as captain of the Indian cricket team is one that will live for a long time, with many people of the belief that Ganguly should be given credit for a lot of the success that the team would go on to have in the future.
Sourav Ganguly - The administrator
He is certainly one of the most important people in Indian cricket right now. He is the President of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), after replacing Jagmohan Dalmiya in September of 2015. He donned the role of Joint Secretary of the CAB prior to this. He has taken a proactive role as the Chairman of the CAB, ensuring the Eden Gardens is restored to its former glory, showcasing its beauty in the final of the World T20 and also, more recently, hosting India’s first day-night pink ball match. He also notably launched the Vision 2020 program, an initiative to groom youngsters to become future superstars. For this program, he’s roped in the likes of Waqar Younis and Muttiah Muralitharan.
In November of 2015, Ganguly was given a choice between his commentary duties and taking over as Chairman of the Technical Committee for the BCCI. There was only going to be one conclusion and he chose to replace Anil Kumble at the helm. The technical committee of the BCCI is tasked with improving the state of domestic cricket in the country. Further, he is a member of the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) along with VVS Laxman & Sachin Tendulkar. The CAC is expected to advise the BCCI on cricket-related matters pertaining to the international and domestic game that do not fall under the many committees currently in the BCCI.
There have been talks of merging the CAC and technical committee into one larger High Performance Committee, and one can see Ganguly heading this. Apart from this, he is also a part of the IPL governing council where he will look into matters relating to the integrity of the IPL and solutions to the fixing allegations that have plagued the league.
He’s made it look easy. No fuss. He’s traded the spikes of the cricket field with the boots of the boardroom and seemed equally comfortable in both. What’s left to see if only where he will leave a greater legacy. One thing’s for sure, Indian cricket is surely in safe hands.