I always end up writing something when a famous cricketer retires. I wrote on my blog when Shane Warne hung up his boots and I am doing just that today, right after Ganguly has announced his retirement. I don't know why I do this, but these guys send a non-stop message of inspiration in life to me. I am sure, I will write more when Sachin, VVS, Dravid and Kumble retire as well. If there was blogging in the 1980s' and 1990s, with such high-speed internet, I am pretty sure I would have made my blog an "inspiration blog" on some truly phenomenal sportsmen(not just cricketers).
Anyway, getting back to the moment - its the last month of international cricket for Dada. Gosh, that man is somebody I have just admired ever since I saw him play first in 1996! What a spirited fella! Ever ready to take on the system head on and be so confident than come what may, he is good enough to pound the best in the business. Australia, England, Pakistan, Sri Lanka - all the cricketing nations in the world, who did not fear him so much for his smashing hits as much as they did for his attitude. Very few Indian cricketers have been able to look at their international counterparts in the eye and let them know that they are not there for gardening or just facing chin music! Dada was different for me - he taught me aggression; incredible self-confidence; a deep passion for the game(that was so sadly abused by the powers-that-be). I don't know him personally, but I strongly feel that he only meant business and was not there in the game for just the adulation(he deserved it though!).
And that super-arrogant, straight talking Greg Chappell, unfortunately had the powers; else, I am pretty sure, Dada would have ensure that Chappell never enters our country again. Alright, he may have been a great Aussie cricketer in his heyday; but remember, he was one of the meanest and cheapest players(figuratively), by devising the under-arm bowling option in an ODI against New Zealand. Dada never resorted to such trivial measures - he played the games by the rule, and played it hard(eye to eye with the opposition). Go home, Greg Chappell - we don't need you!
What about the inspiration Dada gave to newcomers? Half of the current talent in the best 16 in the country - Harbhajan, Yuvraj, etc etc, owe it to Dada's unrelenting encouragement for the youth/new players. I strongly feel that Dada's captaincy is a lesson in management - how to lead in the most adverse and severe conditions. Look at the balancing act he had to do i.e. get his career going when the selectors were out to nail him, let the opposition know that he was no pushover, and stand like a man of steel for rookies who had no clue about the pressures of international cricket. That sort of a balancing act, in a situation where Dada's head was always on the line, is not easy. And it comes to great leaders;people with gumption, courage of conviction and immense concentration and passion. Those are my biggest learnings from this great Bengali.
It is not a joke to score nearly 20,000 international runs in an era that had some of India's batting stalwarts - the Fab Four as people call them. And to be counted amongst that elite and inordinately superior crowd is a special thing in itself. Hats off to you, Saurav! You taught Indian sportsman (across genres) and people like me at the start of their professional careers, what it means to win. And win, against all odds!
Wish you a very, very, very happy retired life, Dada! If ever I see you as a commentator, I'd be glued in to listen to the brain behind that aggressive attitude. All the best!