In the 1996 US primaries, presidential candidate Bob Dole was
colloquially referred to as the Comeback Adult, a reference to the fact that, at 73, he had not given up hope and was the oldest first-time presidential nominee.
Circa 2007, and in the context of Indian cricket, Sourav Ganguly can well be referred to as the Comeback Adult! That his subsequent performances are in sharp contrast to those of Dole is a different matter altogether.
When he was dropped from the Indian team in 2005-2006, at 33 -- an age considered over-the-hill in cricketing circles -- many felt it was all over for the southpaw from Kolkata, especially since Indian cricket was witnessing an influx of new talent at that time.
To his credit, Ganguly always believed he could come back -- and to his credit, he did it the hard way. Going back to the domestic circuit, he featured in tournaments no one ever imagined him playing, played in places which had hitherto never been a part of his schedule and, by sheer weight of performance, made it back to the Test team late last year and subsequently to the ODI squad earlier this year.
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Even so, the comeback was not without heartburn -- in the early stages, the buzz was that the team management felt he was batting for himself and his place in the side, scoring too slowly and, in the process, undermining the
Ganguly promptly upped the ante, and began playing with an uncluttered mind and refreshing freedom, to the point where at age 35, he is batting better than he has at any point in his career -- and in doing so, he has left his
critics nothing further to point at.
If his comeback to one-day cricket after a 16-month hiatus was spectacular -- he scored 98 against the West Indies in the first ODI -- his subsequent performances reiterated the fact that he is still one of the best players in the shorter form of the game.
In the longer version of the game too, Ganguly was equally consistent. He got a hundred against Bangladesh at Chittagong and had good scores in the three-Test series in England (249 runs, inclusive of two fifties). But his
moment of glory came towards the end of the year in the home series against Pakistan. His first-ever century (102) at his home ground, Kolkata's Eden Gardens, was followed by his maiden Test double-hundred (239) in Bangalore.
At the end of the three-match series, his aggregate was 534 runs at an average of 89.00 -- the second-best tally ever by an Indian batsman in a three-Test series, next only to Virender Sehwag's tally of 544 (average: 90.67)
against Pakistan in 2004-2005. Moreover, Ganguly was perhaps the only player to emerge unscathed from India's disastrous World Cup campaign.
Clearly, 2007 has been the year of Sourav Ganguly, a year that can only be captioned 'The Rise of the Phoenix'.
The Prince of Kolkata in 2007
Ganguly, for the first time in his Test career, amassed 1,000 runs in a calendar year -- 1,023 firstname.lastname@example.org, including three centuries and four fifties in nine matches.
His man-of-the-match award in the third Test against Pakistan was his first in four years. He last got it for his 144 against Australia at Brisbane in December 2003.
He was even more successful in ODIs, aggregating 1,240 runs -- including a dozen half-centuries -- in 32 email@example.com.
His dismissal of Shahid Afridi in the fourth ODI against Pakistan at Jaipur gave him his 100th ODI wicket.
He scored 162 runs in three World Cup matches and became only the second Indian batsman, after Sachin Tendulkar,
to aggregate more than a thousand runs in the World Cup (1,006).
Photograph: Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP/Getty Images
Also read: Batting lower down denied me several 100s
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