On show, 'Maharaj' Sourav Ganguly's many hats
The city was under a spell of depression but its favourite son waded in cheers on Friday evening. Sourav Ganguly, the newly elected Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president, was the cynosure at a gala felicitation on the lawns of Eden Gardens.
The 47-year-old was felicitated by the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), the association he headed for the last four years.
Cricketers past and present braved the downpour to attend the function and talk about their beloved ‘Maharaj’.
Flanked by his first India captain, Mohammed Azharuddin, and VVS Laxman, his trusted lieutenant during his playing days, Sourav couldn’t help but walk down the memory lane.
Dressed predominantly in smart black, Sourav walked up the stage amidst thunderous applause. Never since his playing days, perhaps, has the former India captain witnessed such a roaring reception at the Eden.
First, he was felicitated with a bouquet of flowers, a silver plaque and a decorated turban by the CAB officials. Then, Bengal men’s and women’s captains, Abhimanyu Easwaran and Paromita Roy respectively, felicitated him.
Azhar, under whom Sourav made his memorable Test debut in 1996, set the tone for the evening saying: “I am sure he will work very hard in BCCI like he did for Indian cricket. Bengal has produced great administrators, like Jagmohan Dalmiya Sir. I am hopeful Sourav will continue the good work. He has always taken difficult and bold decisions. I want him to achieve lot more than what he has achieved on the cricketing field.”
On a lighter note, the 56-year-old Azhar added: “I was always the city’s first choice cricketer, but after Sourav started playing, I became No.2.”
Laxman doffed his hat to captain Sourav, saying: “Sourav the cricketer is special, but for me Sourav the captain is very, very special.”
When it was Sourav’s turn to speak, he had to wait for a minute or so as chants of “Dada, Dada” filled the Eden air. “The first time I came here was as a 14-year old. I played for Bengal, India and now I have become the BCCI president. Sometimes, I used to pinch myself and check if everything that is happening is real!
“I always do what my heart says. I will try my best to assure that when I leave the post, people would not say — ‘cricketers are only good at playing’,” Sourav said.
Always a ferociously straight-talking person, Sourav laid down the rules once again. “I played on my own terms, led the team in my own style and would like to run the BCCI in a similar manner,” the new BCCI boss said.
Sourav’s first Bengal captain Sambaran Banerjee was also present.
The state association also felicitated Ashok Malhotra for becoming first Indian Cricketers’ Association (ICA) president.
Former cricketers like Brian Lara, Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Smith, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Gautam Gambhir and Irfan Pathan also sent their good wishes to Sourav via video messages.
CAB secretary Avishek Dalmiya thanked Sourav for his tenure at the association. “I hope he will continue to guide us in the days ahead. It was an honour to work with him for four years,” Avishek said.
As Sourav was walking past the Eden dressing rooms at the end of the programme, he seemed ready for a new innings on a different pitch.