Sourav Ganguly must be one of the most controversial and inspirational figures in Indian cricket. As a captain, he inspired his players and a generation to stand up for themselves and give it back to the opposition in kind.
As a player, he had his tiffs with fellow players and his issues with Greg Chappell and John Buchanan are well known. Ganguly delved deeper about these issues and his life in his recently released autobiography ‘A century is not enough’. CNN News 18 caught up with CAB President for an interview and here are the excerpts from the interview.
Talking about backing the youngsters who played under him, Ganguly said, “I had to back youngsters when they came in. I was a ferocious winner. I really wanted to make a difference, and not just be one of those captains who are captain for a few years and quietly fade to the background. I wanted to make a difference. So the young players came in and I had to create a team with them and had to find a way for them to prosper. I believe that I had to take the fear factor away from them. The fact that there is pressure, you cannot put them under so much pressure that they crack and then are unable to perform.”
“The likes of Yuvi (Yuvraj Singh), Harbhajan, Viru (Virender Sehwag) and Zaheer, they were all match winners in their own right and also I was fortunate enough to become captain at a period when myself, VVS (Laxman), Sachin, Rahul and Anil were at their best,” he added.
Ganguly also explained the difference between MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli as captains.
He said, “I think Dhoni and Kohli are different personalities. Kohli is very expressive, and so was I. But Kohli has probably taken it one step further. I have to find out, whom does he show that fist to every time a wicket falls.”
“Dhoni was calm, that doesn't take the nervousness or pressure away from anyone. For Virat Kohli, it's his way of taking pressure away from everyone, and it was same for me. For Dhoni it was to absorb. So every captain is different and I think India is very fortunate to have Dhoni and Virat Kohli,” he added.
He praised Virat as a player saying, “Virat is also in the form of his life, I think the way he's played, he's the best player in the world at the moment. When I see him on the field, I see a lot of honesty. It's like you get what you see with him. Everything is there and also he's a class player. So I have tremendous regard for him and tremendous faith in him that he's going to take Indian Cricket to the next level.”
Ganguly called captaincy more of a man management job, saying, “It cannot be 'my way or the highway'. Every Individual is different, especially in our country, which is so huge and diverse. Players come from all parts of the country, North, South, East, West, with different habits. Some like Venkatesh Prasad who never ate chicken in his life, then there was Javagal Srinath who was told that if he wanted to bowl fast, he had to eat meat. So all came from different backgrounds. The biggest job of the captain is to make sure they play at their best, treat every player differently and just be bothered about what they do on the park. I tried to compartmentalize and treat every individual on their own merit.”
Talking about his shirt waving incident at Lord’s, Ganguly said, “When I look back at it now, it was crazy. It was a young man's show of happiness. I saw Dhoni do it after winning the T20 World Cup. If Virat wins the 2019 World Cup, he might just walk bare body on Oxford Street because it's in England. So it's nothing more than that, just a show of a young man's happiness, but I'll never do it again.”
Talking about his spat with Greg Chappell, Ganguly said, “I have no clue why he disliked me. I never asked. I was very tentative to ask. By then I had played more than 350 games for India, and as a captain 200 games. I didn't want an explanation. I said when I get my turn, I will try to score runs and, if I don't get my turn, I don't.”
He added, “The sad part was that you felt that you were getting runs and you should get picked and dropped on the basis of how much runs you score, and how many wickets you take. So for a period of six months I felt that that was not the criteria. I felt that even if I score a hundred I won't be picked. That's the tough bit.”
“When I get to hear from people that during my tenure as the captain Indian cricket changed. I think that will remain with me. The runs will remain, I am fortunate to be among the three Indians who have played 100 tests and 300 one-days, Which is Sachin, Rahul and I. I always think that god has been kind enough to make me do that, but what will remain with me is, this team was different. That's what you play for, because it is a team sport,” Ganguly said about the biggest moment of his playing career.
When asked if he would like to become BCCI President, Ganguly said, “I think I am too young for the post of a president of BCCI at the moment. I am in no hurry. The best things have happened from no where. Like when I became the captain, I didn't expect it.I joined the administration in 2014 and in 2015 and became the president of CAB, because somebody who was like a father to me — Mr. Jagmohan Dalmiya died. So with these experiences I don't think too far. I just do the best in what I am asked to do.”
He refused to compare his team and that of Virat Kohli’s by saying, “Every generation in Indian cricket has produced a champion like Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar. I think Kohli is the one in this generation. Virat is the senior most with Dhoni having 10 years or 11 years of experience. But the other boys, whether it's Ajinkya Rahane or Rohit Sharma or Murali Vijay, have four or five seasons. I would give a little more time and see where they finish and then compare the generation. Longevity at that level for a long period of time is a yardstick to show how good you are. Once these boys get close to it, it be easier to compare.”