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THE CAPTAIN WITH FEET OF CLAY

Sourav By Gulu Ezekiel, Penguin, Rs 250

Gulu Ezekiel’s study of Sourav Ganguly is a biography with a difference. The author thankfully does not approach his subject as if he were a demi-god, but sees things in their proper perspective.

Ezekiel does not bother with Ganguly’s retinue of recent “friends”, but makes the extra effort to establish contact with all the men who had a bearing on Ganguly during his formative years. And the Indian captain has, very graciously, not forgotten any of these men. This again is rather unusual, for most people who climb up the ladder tend to forget those who had helped them in their early days.

Ezekiel also shows commendable courage in exposing the uncharitable comments of the high and mighty. He refers to Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Bishen Singh Bedi, Sunil Gavaskar, among others, who passed cruel, irrelevant, and uninformed comments about the defenceless young man. In fact, Ravi Shastri had even advised the young 19-year-old on his maiden tour of New Zealand in 1991 to have a higher back-lift on the fast wickets of Australia! Not many authors would have had the gumption to recount these for public consumption.

Ezekiel does not also ignore the many controversies that surround the Indian captain. His marriage, his supposed extra-marital affair, his much-publicized confrontation with Steve Waugh, his bare-bodied exuberance on the balcony at Lord’s, his conflicts with various referees and umpires — all have been dealt with in much detail.

The author does not feel any need to hide the warts of the man. This is, in itself, a tribute to the Indian captain, who is nothing if not honest. Even this fearless frankness comes through in the no-holds barred quotes of some BCCI officials and foreign players.

What comes across in the pages of Sourav is an unusual personality and an articulate and courageous leader of men who has no time for fools, or for the imbecile comments of “experts”. A man who has earned the respect of his peers, including Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, as also praise from international cricketing legends like Richie Benaud, Geoff Boycott, David Gower and Graeme Pollock. A man whose bat has made his jealous critics eat crow meat.

The book is full of facts and figures, and has been updated till the commencement of the New Zealand tour. Also his status as a player and captain have been appropriately portrayed by an experienced, knowledgeable author and with a rare candour.

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