I am the first to admit that I am not a great fan of Ganguly. He is vulnerable to the short pitched stuff, is bad at running between the wickets and I am definitely a better fielder than he is. But having said all that one has to admit that he brought in a fighting spirit to the Indian team. He gave as good as he got and taught the team to do it too.
People say that the way he behaved with Steve Waugh in the 2001 series – not turning up for the toss on time etc – was not very professional conduct. True, but that was his way of getting under Steve Waugh’s skin. And by god did it help. Aided by Laxman’s and Dravid’s fantastic batting India won a series that nobody expected us to even put up a semblance of a fight.
Saurav was pugnacious, overbearing and probably too opinionated. But that was the requirement of the time. His opponents may not have loved him but they, especially the Aussies, knew that they were in a fight when they took him on.
Which other Indian captain has done that in recent times? Azhar was a thorough gentleman. He even tried making up with that crook Hansie Cronje on-field, when he was abusing Azhar on our tour to S.Africa. Sachin Tendulkar was also a very mild captain.
Enter Ganguly and all this meekness changed and he won matches for India both as captain and batsman both at home and overseas.
Given this background I think he definitely deserves a more dignified end to his playing days. Hopefully he will get it on this tour to Pakistan.