Sourav Ganguly captivated the audience at the HT Leadership Summit with delightful anecdotes from his captaincy days, when he steered the team after the match-fixing scandal.
Terming himself a Yes Man, Ganguly spoke about the difficulty of resting Anil Kumble or Ashish Nehra overseas or asking VVS Laxman to open and being told he will not. HT caught up with him after the lively session.
Just two two-day games before can sometimes be a bit tough. You need hits in the middle to get used to those conditions. The pace is different, the movement is different, the seam movement.
India start in Brisbane like they did in 2003/4. You hit a century and the team did very well, drawing the series 1-1.
The first Test of every series is important. It is one of the quickest pitches in the world. There will be seam movement, there will be carry, so shot-selection will be even more important. Driving could be difficult early on with the movement, the hook shot could be difficult because of the extra bounce and pace. You will have to get your shot selection right, the horizontal shots.
The likes of (Virat) Kohli, especially the two openers Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay, will have to get used to the conditions very, very quickly.
Were you surprised that Virat and Pujara struggled in England?
The two failing in 10 innings was really surprising. But Virat has got hundreds in Australia, South Africa.
Challenging conditions but Australia will be different from England…
It seams and swings in England. In Australia, there will be pace and carry. The balls will be different. Dukes swing and seam right through, Kookaburra doesn’t seam that much once those 25-30 overs are over.
The Mitchell Johnson factor will be huge. Your take...
Johnson’s got that left-arm bowler’s angle into the right-handers. He will be a tough customer. But it’s not just Johnson. Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, you name it the fast bowlers keep turning up.
I expect the pitches to be green. That was the case in 2011. They will have seaming pitches, a bit of pace and bounce and the fast bowlers will come into play. It won’t be easy for India. They have the talent, it is about how they stand up.
You expect sledging to play a big part?
A lot of these players play together, in the IPL, Champions League. But it’s going to be tough cricket and there will be words spoken. Virat Kohli doesn’t keep quiet. That’s how you should be.
Will our pace attack stand up?
It is very easy to bowl on those pacy pitches, just back of the length. It has got to be full for India. If they get the length right, the likes of Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be handy.
The series is two-months long before the World Cup arrives? How tough will it be mentally?
What I am worried is the first Test. If they get through that they should be fine through to the World Cup.
It is a long tour and they will have to be mentally fresh. But then you don’t get to play cricket for your entire life, so enjoy it.
R Ashwin struggled the last time we played in Australia.
I hope he has learnt from it. The Kookaburra ball is not easy. All Test teams at their best have had great spinners, bowling well. It is important that Ashwin and (Ravindra) Jadeja bowl well.