Dada and Dadagiri (Column: Close-in)
There were two significant moments recently in Indian cricket. Both had a relationship with a very intriguing word in cricket “Dada”. In Bengali, the word is used to relate to an elder brother. The newly-appointed President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Sourav Ganguly on becoming the cricket captain of India, was “Dada” among his cricketing teammates. He was a leader and a very successful one and hence was given the status of an elder statesman.
Ganguly was a wonderful cricketer and an astute leader. He went through the highs and lows that cricket offers to a player, but after his retirement, he has been a cricket administrator, advisor, writer and an expert commentator.
Indian cricket and especially the BCCI will need all his wealth of experience, on and off the field, to reinstate the fallen image of the world’s richest cricketing body.
Ganguly’s book, “A century is not enough” may have a negative connotation to it, but it is full of the challenges that he faced and conquered in achieving his goal. It is those very fighting qualities and forcefulness that one hopes to see in him at the helm of the BCCI, in his short tenure of 10 months.
The most impactful contribution by Ganguly to Indian cricket has been his role as the Indian cricket captain. The match fixing incidents were just among many issues that erupted before he became the leader. What one failed to see was the rot that had set over time between players from the North and West — the two important zonal sides of Indian cricket.
The zonal-based selection committee added to the overflowing brew. Preference of players in the team selection had at times been in the hands of the powerful administrators of the BCCI and there was a significant divide which had over time crept into Indian cricket selection.
Fortunately for Ganguly, the BCCI had one of the most able cricket administrators Jagmohan Dalmia as its President at that time. Both hailing from the East, changed the face of the Indian cricket. Without the heavy burden of selecting wards from their zone that captains from the North, West and South faced, the East did not have any such issue. This is where the “Prince of Calcutta”, a title bestowed on Ganguly by Geoff Boycott played a prominent part.
The barriers that the zones had created were eradicated and a talented bunch of young Indian cricketers were put together as an Indian unit. The established stars of Indian cricket, Tendulkar and Dravid were soon given that extra bit of garnishing with the likes of Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh, V.V.S. Laxman, Mohammad Kaif and many more.
Cricket has always had a great fan following in India, but the most significant change came about during that era. There emerged a feeling of patriotism and pride to be an Indian, which somehow was lacking earlier. Indian cricket had many stars over the years, but the fans went beyond the individuals and the Indian team and their performance became the centre of their attention. This was a historic change in the perception of the way the fans followed Indian cricket.
One now looks forward to Dada’s reign at the BCCI in a similar vein. “Dada” is also used very frequently not only for a gang leader, but also for a performer who is far superior to the rest. In cricket, a person bullying the rival team and getting runs at will was branded as a Dada and his or the team’s performance was called “Dadagiri”.
This is what one saw when India demolished South Africa 3-0 in the recent Test series. It was sheer Dadagiri. The Indian batsmen with three double centurions in their midst and with many other super performances looked head and shoulder above their opponents.
The Indian bowlers also did a fantastic job. They had the Proteas batsmen in a state of disarray. They looked like dazed rabbits under a headlight. With their pupils dilated under the helmet, one could see the fear and panic in their eyes.
This is what many Indian sides looked like many years ago. The Indian team has progressed in leaps and bounds and to see them perform with such consistency and harmony is wonderful. The South African side has been termed by many as a very weak outfit.
In cricket, no side is a weak opponent. India made them into one and that is where one has to give full credit to their dynamic captain, Virat Kohli and his team of players and the support staff. Well done India, Dada and Dadagiri is just what is needed.
(Yajurvindra Singh is a former Test cricketer.)