The End of Dadaism

Sourav Ganguly Retires

Leave it to Sourav Ganguly to go out in a perplexing blaze of nothingness, with a first-ball duck at Nagpur, just as he entered with a perplexing blaze of brilliance, with an opening-innings century at Lords nearly a dozen years ago. Always a bit of drama with Sourav. Okay, more than a bit.

Unless you are a Bengali — in which case chauvinism blinds you no less in matters of cricket than in any other aspect of life — Ganguly made life just a little uncomfortable for his would-be admirers. You wanted to give him your unconditional support; but somehow, he never let you. You couldn’t help but admire his ballsy incisiveness as India’s captain, his often magnificent stroke play (as Rahul Dravid famously said, “On the off-side, there’s God, then there’s Ganguly.”), and his uncommonly articulate post-match interviews. And yet his play never ceased to be infuriatingly selfish, sloppy, and cynical. I have not looked at the statistics, so this is entirely impressionistic, but I think one would be hard-pressed to name a player who got more of his teammates run-out unnecessarily, hit more pointless centuries in losing causes and inevitably drawn tests, or was dismissed so often within a ball after reaching his personal milestone du jour.

His nickname was “Dada”, from the Bengali for “older brother”. Yet the derivation could just as easily come from the contrarian art movement of the early twentieth century, given the maddening ambiguity of his prolific, yet profligate career.

Ganguly’s retirement feels like we are finally rid of a dysfunctional romance, no thanks to ourselves. We never the courage to walk away, but he did.

Not that we didn’t try to leave. My voice was among those who called for his retirement during the dark days of 2005. But I was also among those delighted with the success of his 2006-2008 comeback.

It would have been wonderful to have seen Sourav go out as he’d come in, with a blaze of glory. But the golden duck coda seemed well-deserved instant-karma for a cricketer who so often seemed to play only for himself.

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5 Responses to “The End of Dadaism”


  1. 1 saurabh somani 10 November 2008 at 4:05 am

    hi mark,
    Like you said… it’s very different from the tone of my tribute to Dada!

    Don’t quite agree with you on some points though:

    – first one: Ganguly has NEVER hit a century in a losing cause. He has 16 centuries in test matches, and india has not a lost a single time that he has scored a test century. so ur point about hitting pointless centuries in losing causes and inevitably drawn tests is not valid.

    about the drawn tests, sure some of his centuries were hit when the test was meandering, and no result other than a draw was possible, but that is true of every test batsman! a lot of his centuries have come at times when the game was still alive.

    – the point about getting out close on the heels of achieving a personal landmark is again true of test cricketers since test matches have started. if you break up all scores of over a hundred, into batches of 100-124, 125-149, 150-174, 175-199 etc… by far the highest percentage of scores would fall in the 100-124 bracket. so either ALL test cricketers have been selfish, or it is just difficult to make big hundreds and Ganguly was no exception to the rule.

    – related to the above, i really don’t think you can label Ganguly as a ‘selfish’ player. apart from that period in 2005, when he did seem selfish and hung on to his place at the expense of batsmen more in form, there is no other portion of his career where he has exhibited ‘selfishness’.

    cheers!

    p.s: did not know you were such a keen follower of cricket, that has been a pleasant surprise! :)

  2. 2 Bappu 22 December 2008 at 10:19 am

    Hi Mark,

    Funny, you never mentioned how as a skipper he has turned round Indian Cricket after Tendulkar realised that he (Tendulkar) was not meant for captaincy. It was because of Saurav that parochialism came to an end while selecting the team. He stood by Bhajji, supported Zaheer and ensured that Yuvi got a fair chance. Not to forget that as long as Saurav and Sachin were opening for India in ODIs we were putting up big century partnerships more often than any other team.

    Where Saurav was to blame was on getting Greg Chappel as a coach for the Indian team. With the Oz coach at the help, the Indian selectors got back at him with a vengeance.

    By the way Sir Donald Bradman also scored a duck in his last innings.

    I wonder if Kiran More asked you to write this article!!

    Bappu

  3. 3 ray 24 December 2008 at 5:57 am

    Hi,

    I was reading ur blog posts and found some of them to be very good.. u write well.. Why don’t you popularize it more.. ur posts on ur blog ‘memestream’ took my particular attention as some of them are interesting topics of mine too;

    BTW I help out some ex-IIMA guys who with another batch mate run http://www.rambhai.com where you can post links to your most loved blog-posts. Rambhai was the chaiwala at IIMA and it is a site where users can themselves share links to blog posts etc and other can find and vote on them. The best make it to the homepage!

    This way you can reach out to rambhai readers some of whom could become your ardent fans.. who knows.. :)

    Cheers,

  4. 4 millyonair 13 January 2009 at 10:45 am

    Mark,

    Where have you gone? I miss your posts!

    Cheers,
    Milly

  5. 5 sneha 13 January 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Hi,

    Was doing an assignment on Pondicherry and was deeply interested in finding more literature on the beach erosion there. Seeing as you have an entry on the beaches in Pondicherry I was wondering if you would be able to help me with more information.

    Thanks in anticipation,

    Sneha


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