What is it about this man? Why can’t fans of the Indian team ever seem to agree on the former captain, and why must he always spark debate?
For my part, I gave up on Ganguly after the Chappell fiasco. Not that I very much liked the ex-coach — he was far too cerebal, brash, and arrogant for my tastes — but he properly diagnosed the need for change in the Indian setup, which Ganguly preferred to obstruct than be part of.
And that gets to the heart of my feelings about the man: on the one hand, his greatest strength was his enormous self-belief and confidence, and not his skills. Yes, he is — or, perhaps, was? — a great batsman, but of the Fab Four, he comes in last. That’s not the point, since, as captain, he was able to communicate raw will to power.
Unfortunately, that’s also the source of his shortcomings. For whatever reason — the outlandish celebrity Indians afford their cricketers; his captaincy record; his aggression — Ganguly seemed to have a had time putting the team before himself. Even his latest comments about his retirement, where he claims to be “tired” of the constant humiliation, reveals how fixated he can be on himself and his reputation. It’s always about him; he always has to prove himself; he’s unfairly singled out. Maybe so, but that’s how he’s always liked it in the past.
I want to talk more about retirements in another post, but Ganguly’s own announcement stirs very little emotion in me. If this had happened nearer to 2003, when he led the team to the World Cup final, I would have been more distraught, but at this time, when the elders are getting on too old, when young, raw talent needs to be developed, when India finally has the self-belief that eluded it during the 1990s…well, it’s time for the man to go.