Kolkata:In a befitting farewell by his home association, Bengal's prodigal son Sourav Ganguly was on Sunday presented a golden bat at his felicitation here as a poignant show of nostalgia marked the two-hour-long programme.
As the former Indian skipper was presented with the bat made of one kg gold worth Rs 25 lakh, confetti was showered amid a dazzling display of fireworks in the Cricket Association of Bengal function 'Celebrating a legend'.
Speaking on the occasion, chief guest of the function West Bengal Sports Minister Subhas Chakraborty described Ganguly as a 'Dhruv Tara' (the guiding star) and compared him with the warrior Arjuna who battled all odds in the Mahabharata.
He said he would request the Calcutta University to confer an honorary D. Litt on Ganguly for his rare achievements which no other sportsman has got so far. Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, who was to be the chief guest, could not attend the function due to illness.
There was also a 10-minute documentary feature - 'Dadagiri: A fire within' - encompassing Ganguly's long trip to international arena featuring his debut at the Lord's, his steering of India to the World Cup final in 2003 as skipper, the abiding image of him taking off his shirt on the Lord's balcony after winning the Natwest Trophy in 2002, his spat with Greg Chappell and his statement at a press conference to quit the game ahead of the Australia Test series.
Terming Ganguly as a rare cricketer who has the combination of flamboyance and maturity, CAB president Jagmohan Dalmiya said, "He was one of the rare cricketers who made his debut for the senior Bengal side in the final of the Ranji Trophy which his team won."
"History will remember him as a leader who rescued India from a period of crisis," Dalmiya said, referring to Ganguly's captaincy of the national team in 2000.
"His career transformed Indian and Bengal cricket and inspired generations to believe they can overcome all challenges which come their way," the former BCCI chief said. Former Chief Minister Siddharth Shankar Ray, who was also present on the occasion despite his old age, described Ganguly as the greatest ever cricketer.
Comparing Ganguly's cricketing prowess with veteran footballer-cum-cricketer Chuni Goswami, Ray, the cricket enthusiast said, "Chuni was a great cricketer with all the shots in his armoury, but he (Chuni) has to admit that he did not have the flair in drives and hitting over the bowler's head. And it was Ganguly who showed it with eloquence."
Trustee Board Chairman PB Dutta, who was also on the speaker's panel, indirectly referred to Rahul Dravid and said, "Ganguly is still good. But he retired gracefully, it's a lesson for some of the seniors who are still continuing for reasons best known to them."
An emotional Ganguly spoke of his first game at the Eden when he was only 13 years old. It was an under-15 match between Bengal and Orissa.
Ganguly also thanked Dalmiya for being a huge support when he started his career.
'An insiders' look', a chat session involving all the Bengal captains Ganguly has played under brought the curtains down on the programme.
The session, moderated by Arun Lal, with the panel including Sambaran Banerjee, Pranab Roy, Utpal Chatterjee, Saba Karim, Deep Dasgupta, Devang Gandhi, Rohan Gavaskar and Laxmi Ratan Shukla revealed several secrets only known to the dressing room so far.