The adjective that I understand has been my objective & its success: Ganguly
Chirping birds, lush green cover, mild sunlight casting long shadows on the field, overall an ambience you would generally hold synonymous to a picnic spot. But amidst all these was a veteran warrior preparing for battle at the fag end of his career. Gautam Bhattacharya caught up with him.
Q. It’s too soon to be true isn’t it? April is here, and so is IPL! And already time for Dada vs. Khan encounter…
Sourav: Why it has to be me( Sourav Ganguly ) vs. KKR every time? So many other players have been taken up by other franchises. KKR chapter is closed as far as I am concerned. Yes, lots of memories in the first three years, but that’s about it, memories. I know the emotion of the fans concerned, but they have to understand how the franchise system in cricket works. Ten teams, and players are traded hence they have to play for different teams, unlike the national team. They have so many new players Gambhir, Yusuf, Kallis. Barring few most are new. I don’t think there is much to dig into this.
Q. But all are eagerly waiting for 5th May showdown- Dada vs. Khan at the Eden.
Sourav : It shouldn’t be portrayed that way. KKR are a good side, we are not that bad either. The team which plays better wins! I have got a lot of regard for Shahrukh. This is how things get exaggerated.
Q. Have you seen ‘Don-2’? Any encounter with him after last year’s match with Pune?
Sourav: I haven’t had the time to see ‘Don-2’, been busy in Australia. But I saw Ra-One. I came across him on one occasion in Mumbai airport, a few months back. Just casual hi-hello sorts, nothing out of ordinary. I met his wife too on a flight to Pune.
Q. Don’t you feel sometimes that during the three years tenure with KKR, you could have used the help of someone like Venky Mysore who would be constantly in touch with players, connect with them at a more personal level, after all it’s not practically possible for someone like SRK to be around all the time.
Sourav: I am not so sure. I have never worked with someone like Venky Mysore.
Q. Many of us believe that you have nothing more to prove after doing in front of Chappel at his den. What is there in the IPL for you?
Sourav: Yes, I have nothing more to prove to anyone. I play because I love to.
Q. Beside IPL, can we see you next year leading Bengal to Ranji Trophy glory? Your debut was in a Ranji final; shouldn’t you end by winning the trophy as Captain?
Sourav: I don’t think I can. It’s very difficult for me to carry on for the entire season and it’s also an issue of motivation. I have told them many times not to make me the captain. Earlier, there was a motivation of making a comeback, to play for the national side again. Even if I play for a few matches next year, I don’t think I can handle it for the entire season.
Sourav: Mr. Manohar had nothing to do with my retirement. My selection was in the hands of the selectors. They sent a clear message by ignoring me from the Irani trophy. I got their drift, though it wasn’t right. I was just awarded the Asian Player of the Week. However, what’s done is done. Apart from Sachin Tendulkar, you have to leave the decision of your selection to the men on the panel.
Q. Any suggestions as to how Dhoni should have approached the tour to Australia?
Sourav: I would have prepared differently. But blaming only Dhoni or making him the scapegoat will not fetch us wins. But he should remember that winning matches outside the sub-continent is what matters. The criterion for captaincy is the number of tests you have won abroad. He has to change his approach towards test matches; he has to lead from the front, produce match-winning performances like he does often in ODIs and T20s. The batsmen looked absolutely clueless in both the tours, only twice, we have crossed the 300 barrier in an innings. The one thing that I noticed was that Dhoni’s captaincy in tests was starkly different from other formats; his bowling changes, his field placements, his way of uniting the team, everything seemed flawed.
Q. Is it because of the general age of players?
Sourav: Maybe, but frankly, the veterans are still quite good. The team that toured Australia under me had more steel in them. The youngsters – Kohlis, Sharmas and Rainas has to come in and perform. This will not take place overnight. They have to be given opportunities. The selectors have to put their faith in them. You don’t get players like Dravid and Tendulkar come up every day.
Q. Your tips for Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina.
Sourav: Kohli and Sharma are better, given Raina’s issues with the short ball in tests. Virat Kohli should look to score runs and more runs; I still think he was made vice-captain too early in his career.
Q. So what is your final post mortem? Interested in coaching the national side in such tough times?
Sourav: Not now, but maybe in the future, provided they give me the job. It pained a lot to see the team perform so badly, 8-0, and that too watching that live sitting in the commentary box, it was a hopeless feeling. The board should sit with Dhoni and sort things out.
Q. New government in Bengal for last 9 months, some successes, many controversies.
Sourav: Next question please. I wouldn’t want to comment on politics.
Q. Any special memory of Tendulkar in context of his brilliant achievement.
Sourav: When I first met him, he was only 15. He used to keep himself engrossed in practice all the time. Then I saw the same man become Player of the Tournament in World Cup 2003 without batting a single day in the nets for weeks. He used to just tell the trainer to throw balls to him, and he would knock them around, without facing actual bowling in the nets. Once in Cape Town, he made a century against the South Africa. Saw him sulfing the crease, when asked, he said he decide to do it on the spot. That is Tendulkar, he is different, and he is special!!
Q. A film on you was launched the other day ..
Q. To Geoffrey Boycott, you were the Prince of Calcutta. But you have always had to fight it out in the hardest of circumstances.
Sourav: Such is life, it’s never easy. The higher you go, the competition gets stiffer. I don’t enjoy the pressure, but it is an occupational hazard.
Q. Then which is the most suitable adjective that would describe you?
Sourav: I don’t believe in adjectives, the adjective that I understand has been my objective, and that is success. In order to be successful, I would be what is required of me, be it Warrior or be it Prince. I have no particular attachment to these titles; all I understand is runs and wickets.
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