When Sourav Ganguly was left out of the Indian team following the e-mail fiasco in 2005,his father told him to quit. Sourav didnt listen,for he had three more wishes to fulfill to play a hundred Tests for India,to score a Test century at his beloved Eden Gardens and to retire in front of his home crowd.
While the first two were achieved,backroom politics in the BCCI saw to it that the southpaw did not get to choose his venue for retirement.
Any regret for not bidding adieu in front of a packed Eden Gardens must have vanished after Sunday evening.
Perhaps Sourav owes one to Greg Chappell,as without his arrival in the Indian dressing room,Souravs legend would not have been born. The struggle to re-establish himself in the Indian team after his captaincy was taken away gave birth to Sourav the legend.
The Cricket Association of Bengal celebrated this legend today in a fitting manner at Eden.
It was a unique occasion. The evening saw state Sports Minister Subhas Chakraborty and former Bengal chief minister Siddhartha Shankar Ray share the dais,and ICL and IPL players hugged each other and mingled freely. It was,in fact,an evening that transcended all barriers. In the end,everybody was left with a lump in the throat.
Memories of Souravs 13-year-long international career have been etched in gold,a likely reason why the CAB decided to honour him with a 1-kg gold bat.
Dalmiya described Souravs journey as the transformation of a man from flamboyance personified to maturity personified.
He debuted for Bengal as a 17-year-old in the Ranji Trophy final in 1990. His innings of 22,under pressure,was all flamboyance. In his last match for Bengal,he made a matured 69 and helped Bengal qualify to the Elite Group, Dalmiya reminisced. Cricketing history will remember him as a leader who rescued Indian cricket in a moment of crisis. In my life as a cricket administrator,I havent seen any cricketer play with more heart, he added.
Dalmiya and Sourav were not on talking terms after the latter backed Prasun Mukherjee in the CAB elections a couple of years ago. Today all animosity was buried.
Dalmiya has been a huge support when I started and throughout my playing days, said Sourav.
Sports minister Subhas Chakraborty described the former Indian captain as the pole star and said he would ask the Calcutta University to confer upon him a honourary D Lit. A visibly overwhelmed Sourav thanked all,saying it was an occasion of pride to have played his last match for Bengal. I dont think so far any player has retired playing his last match for his state team.
His words of wisdom for the youngsters: Its not just playing for Bengal,but playing for India and surviving there.