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CII steals a march over everybody
- Sourav isn’t just a role model for kids in India, he is one for many back in Australia: Speedster Brett Lee
Governor Viren J. Shah presents a memento to Sourav Ganguly on behalf of CII on Monday evening

Calcutta: Preoccupied with more demanding matters, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee hasn’t found the time to host Team India after a historic double in Pakistan — he did, of course, give Sourav Ganguly and Co. an affectionate send-off on March 10.

But, then, even the Board of Control of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) — which is set for a change of guard five months from now — hasn’t thought it fit to felicitate a champion side.

We want Team India to do better, but the Revival Tour can’t be dismissed as having featured run-of-the-mill ODIs and Tests. Actually, even a reception sans frills — preferably by the BCCI — would have sent the right message.

It’s another matter that Sourav himself isn’t complaining.

“For me, it’s not an issue… In any case, does it matter that much'” he asked The Telegraph on Monday evening, removing a miscellaneous strand from his designer Armani suit — incidentally, bought in London after the 2002 NatWest triumph.

It certainly matters to the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), which stole a march by thoughtfully felicitating India’s most successful Test captain at an overflowing function on Monday. That the CII’s Eastern Region chairman, B. Muthuraman, is the Tata Steel supremo made the evening more special.

Sourav, after all, is employed by the Jamshedpur-located industrial giant.

While the presence of the state’s First Citizen, (chief guest) Viren J. Shah, raised the profile a couple of notches, Brett Lee (on a promotional tour) added glamour. He isn’t just a tearaway, but a guitarist and vocalist with a hit Sydney band. Besides, Lee has lent his name to designerwear.

Another special invitee was BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya.

In keeping with the ‘theme’, the references were laudatory — and deservingly so — but what really caught the ear was Muthuraman’s announcement that it’s Ravi Shastri who recommended Sourav to him, more than a decade ago.

It’s no secret that Shastri and Sourav aren’t exactly on back-slapping terms.

Another interesting bit, one which came through in the short film specially produced for the occasion, is that Sourav made Steve Waugh wait at the toss (during the high-voltage 2000-2001 series) for “tactical reasons”.

Essentially, he wanted to “irritate” the Australian captain. Part of the teasing mind-game, one may add.

Be it Shah or Muthuraman — even Lee, for that matter — nobody forgot to highlight Sourav’s leadership qualities. Yet, his humility found a mention as well.

What got overlooked is Sourav’s non-parochial outlook — in fact, it’s this quality that makes his CV more impressive and, on this count alone, sets him apart from most predecessors.

Shah, as big a cricket aficionado as chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, revealed he was invited by (West) Punjab chief minister Chaudhury Pervaiz Elahi to grace the deciding Test (Rawalpindi) as a state guest, but couldn’t make it owing to the many time-consuming clearances required to go overseas.

[For the record, a governor must give six weeks “notice” to the powers-that-be in New Delhi.]

However, that isn’t the point Shah set out to make — the invitation came his way only because Sourav hails from Bengal. “No other governor was invited,” Shah added, with pride.

The accent was on Sourav’s leadership, yes, but Lee introduced another dimension.

Indeed, he provided an ideal exit line: “Sourav isn’t just a role model for kids in India, he is one for many back in Australia.”

Still, it’s unlikely that our captain will spare Lee’s next half-volley. As Shah reminded, “today, the humility is all off the field…”

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