Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Success is an attitude that you live daily: Daren Ganga

Former West Indian cricket captain Daren Ganga on the virtues of preparation and dedication in being the best

Kathakali Chanda
Published: Aug 12, 2023 09:30:00 AM IST
Updated: Aug 11, 2023 05:38:43 PM IST

Success is an attitude that you live daily: Daren GangaFormer West Indies captain Daren Ganga Image: Neal Simpson - PA Images via Getty Images

Growing up in Trinidad, it was easy for Daren Ganga to get started with cricket—the West Indian cricket team had won two World Cups in the 70s and had unleashed complete domination in the next two decades. But Ganga achieved the tough task—of rising through the ranks and making it to the national team, outshining the hundreds of others who had picked up the bat just like him. He wasn't the most flamboyant of players and had his ups and downs, but patience and grit were virtues that Ganga carried in his game and his life.

In this interview with Forbes India, on the sidelines of the launch of the India office of sports data and analytics company Cricviz, Ganga goes back in time and explains how his background shaped his international career. Edited excerpts:

'My local community gave me the early push'

While I was growing up in Trinidad, West Indies cricket had always been a focal point of the entire region, and that's primarily pegged to the success that the team enjoyed back in the 70s, 80s and into the 90s. As a 70s child, I grew up looking up to Sir Clive Lloyd, Vivian Richards and other great West Indian players and wanting to emulate them. That is where I started to develop that passion for cricket. I grew up in a small rural community in southern Trinidad that also had cricket and a ground as its focal points. So, apart from seeing and being inspired by what was happening internationally, that pull to play cricket and be a part of the highlight of my local community also ignited that fire within me to play cricket. It started as a family affair as I played with my dad and brothers. Then, one thing led to the other—from the community team to school—we started to climb the ladder of cricket tiers. And the rest is history.  

'Preparation is commensurate with outcome'

My first role models were my parents. My dad was a teacher, and my mum worked as an accountant clerk in a printing company. I grew up with very humble beginnings—just to see my parents work hard in their profession and keep the family together was inspiring for me. They showed me the ingredients for success, which spawned into a professional cricket environment. Interfacing with West Indian players like Brian Lara and Ian Bishop, you tend to get a sense of how preparation was commensurate with success and outcomes. And having a dad who was a school teacher, preparation was very much a part of my academic process. He ensured we dedicated enough time to academics. And I saw how preparation connected with the outcome. It's very much the same template that I use for cricket. I never felt I could play a cricket match without preparing for it.   

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'Success is an attitude that you live daily'

Success is not a magic wand or something to pull out of a genie bottle. Success is an attitude that you live daily—how you push yourself to be a better human being with the way you eat, the way you rest, the way you train, and the way you look at the game. There was never a switch I could flick on and off. It's a pattern in every field of life. My father taught me that you can't be the best cricketer in the world and the worst student in the class. It had to be a similar ambition to what you wanted to achieve. That's why I have such a strong academic background as well, with a law degree and an MBA, because success on the field is also success off the field. It's the same attitude that carried me through my career.   

Also read: Trust and authenticity make a leader: Eoin Morgan

'Learn fast, and learn on your feet'  

At times, the pressure of expectations floors you. It's a part of life, and you will never achieve success without failing. When I joined the West Indies team in the 90s, I was the youngest player in 35 years to join that team. I was very much a young cricketer coming out of school cricket, playing one season of first-class and being blooded into international cricket. Of course, I failed more than I succeeded, and early in my career, it was hard to dust myself off and keep going again. But that is where your resolve is tested. You had to find a way of learning fast, learning on your feet, and using those lessons to shorten that development time.  

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'Leadership is to support your mates off the field too'

I've captained the West Indies team as well as the Trinidad & Tobago teams. One of the most essential attributes of leadership that has come through these stints is transparency. You must ensure a great deal of trust in that environment and honesty because you're dealing with human beings. You often hear people talk about man management. A lot of man management has to do with you being transparent and being a person for whom your word is your bond. I felt that was my strongest quality as a leader to get the best out of players. Many times players will have cricketing issues off the field—as a captain, you have to deal with them because about 60-70 percent of leadership is about helping people off the field too. If a player can't trust your word or decision-making, they are not going to support you and give 110 percent in trying to achieve the collective.  

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'The best performers are also the most dedicated'

To be the best in what you do, you must have dedication. One thing that I've seen, beyond my playing days, and seen with great intensity, is that insatiable dedication from the greatest players of the game. I watch Virat Kohli bat, and at no point have I seen his level of intensity drop. That, to me, is...I don't even have words to describe that. Having played the game, you know there are some days you turn up to play and don't feel 100 percent. It reflects in the way you play. With this guy, he's playing at his optimum level in every single match he plays well. He is such a talented player, but he also has the right attitude. That's why he's one of the world's best.