29 April 2015
The book is a decent buy, if you are a dada fan(because of non-availability of other options at present). Else, if you are a general cricket fan, you can be a bit disappointed with the author's 'complaining tone' at some parts of the book, without a 'neutral perspective' and a few claims like saying," Ravi Shastri has a grudge on Sourav Ganguly from the start", without covering anything to corroborate the assumption/argument, does make it look like a silly argument/assumption at times. In my opinion, there is still a non-availability of a comprehensive book dedicated to Sourav Ganguly, which covers his entire career(Have 3 out of the 4 major books on dada so far). It had been a bit puzzling that it had taken almost seven years after Sourav Ganguly's premature retirement in 2008, that a biography has finally come out to give a rear-view mirror to look in to what has been a career worthy of a warrior. The only thing to come out so far before this is the documentary "The Warrior Prince - Sourav Ganguly", which was enjoyable. It has to be noted that till date, Sourav Ganguly has chosen not to write his autobiography. Dada fans would certainly be hoping that he changes his mind.
This book has a healthy dose of statistics, at the start, which make one wonder just how underrated Sourav Ganguly was as an ODI batsman during his playing days, especially after becoming the Indian Captain. The book also summarizes some notable events in dada's career, though most of them could have been covered better. It also shows just how biased and outrageous certain groups of the media were, at various points in his career. The tendency of the general cricket fan to not analyze and just go with the media and start becoming an anti-gangulian for no apparent reason is a fact alluded to, in the book.
Being left out of the side for 4 years, after just one opportunity on his ODI debut, he made sure that every youngster who played under him was given enough opportunities to prove themselves. With his commitment to Indian Cricket and its cause, he would raise a team of talented, yet raw individuals to great heights and win overseas with unprecedented frequency for an Indian team. Yes, his averages as a batsman dropped, particularly in the tests, and like many fans, at that time, I wanted him to focus on his batting alone and maintain his averages. But dada saw the bigger picture, with his vision, he was instrumental in molding the careers of several youngsters, such as Yuvraj, Zaheer, Nehra, Sehwag, Harbhajan and others. Bringing about a change in which they approached Australia, England and other teams who were happy to sledge, he would orchestrate returning what they got and even managed to irritate Steve Waugh and co, who took special pride in getting under the opposition's skin. Ironically, he didn't get the support he thought he would get when he was up against Greg Chappel. Sachin Tendulkar 'preferred' to talk about Chappel, one year after his retirement, in his autobiography and Rahul Dravid is yet to talk about Chappel. Whether it was Greg Chappel, Kiran More the selector or the other numerous individuals, at different times, who thought they could keep him from the team, he always found a way to make his innumerable comebacks. When even dada fans felt it was over, he would be back, as always. With little support in a career in which he had to swim against the current from start to finish, he would go out in his own terms, when he was still at his peak. When we look back at the role of Sourav Ganguly in the resurrection the Indian team's fortunes from the dark phase of cricket, it can be certainly said that it was much more than personal records like being the fastest to 6000, 7000, 8000 and 9000 ODI runs in his time, he was, without a shadow of doubt, "The man who changed the face of Indian Cricket !".
Despite its flaws/ shortcomings, the book is definitely a decent purchase as it does have some fresh perspectives. If you can buy it without expecting a lot, it can delight you. Though the book is a commendable compilation of dada's career, in my opinion, dada deserves a better book than this. Hope he writes one himself.