“For men may come and men may go
But I go on forever”
-The Brook, Alfred Lord Tennyson.
Underrated, the most talked about personality in the world of Cricket, the “God of the offside”, the man who built up the Indian Team right from the shambles, the Captain who led the team from the front, declared war in every game – a war that he believed was only to be won. He instilled grit and unity in his boys, forever encouraging them to keep going – to challenge the unforeseen, to conquer the impossible and to call a spade a spade with defiance and confidence. He groomed his men from kittens to tigers, himself the Royal Bengal Tiger leading the pack, putting talent above all else. He taught his boys to return a stare with a glare and a finger with a fist, and charge ahead for all it was worth.
Sharp, feisty, and with an eye for spotting talent, he polished rocks into sparkling diamonds that today are the pride of the nation. He not only encouraged, he set examples. Himself a game changer and a match winner on his day, he gave his all for the team when they needed it.
Undeniably, he had a different approach to things…and more than many times it surpassed the stereotyped image of what an Indian cricketer should be – meek and unchallenging.
He had his own rules, and he never gave a damn about who thought what of him. He painted colour in the bleak world of Indian cricket. He didn’t just believe in creating history, he believed it writing it himself.
From waving his jersey while bare-chested at the Mecca of cricket, to making other captains wait for the toss, he gave a tooth for a tooth in every aspect of life. His ‘hell do I care’ attitude was either loved or hated by people.
His personality was such that it evoked the most extreme emotions from people. You either loved him or hated him. There was no space for the neutrality in between.
Here was a man who just couldn’t be ignored, whether loved by worshipping admirers or hated by critics – solely for his never-say-die spirit, and for his immense, and immensely underrated contribution to Indian and World Cricket.
At times it seemed as if he enjoyed pricking fate, revelled in challenging destiny. And every time, he emerged as the winner. A true fighter, he dared to take on whatever life threw his way, and even lost his fight against the tide, only to emerge stronger and better – to rise from the ashes again and again, like a death-defying phoenix, spreading its majestic wings and soaring higher into the sky each time.
He was, is, and always will be an inspiration to the millions who fall, and rise again with new strength, new confidence, and new vigour to start their battle once more.
The turbulence in his career just went on to show the Warrior he is. As is said, a Warrior never dies till his death. True to the saying, he fought back every time, to prove his critics wrong, to show the world that he belonged to the team solely because he deserved his place there.
Winning, losing, being criticised…all these were nothing compared to the battle. What mattered was the he put up a fight against all that attempted to deter him.
Few flames mesmerise with their brightness and beauty and yet scorch those who venture near enough to try and douse it, and give direction to wayfarers at the same time. He is one such flame. A leader in every sense of the word, he always was and forever will be a hero.
The man is fire…the man is Sourav Ganguly.