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Sourav Ganguly recalls Greg Chappell spat, says ‘individual sports a lot better’

Recalling the turbulent phase in his India career when he was removed as skipper and player, Sourav Ganguly is happy with the team backing for MS Dhoni.

cricket Updated: Nov 25, 2017 18:44 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Sourav Ganguly,Greg Chappell,Virat Kohli
Sourav Ganguly (L) and Greg Chappell had a tumultuous relationship in the Indian cricket team.(AFP/Getty Images)

“As that period went through, you realised it was a bit more than just scoring runs because I was scoring Test match hundreds, I was scoring in the Ranji Trophy, then I was told I wasn’t fit and I had to prove my fitness. Then I scored 150 and picked up five wickets in the same game.”

Nearly nine years after he retired from international cricket, former India skipper Sourav Ganguly looked back at his selection fiasco in the Greg Chappell era, saying he wasn’t sure why he was dropped from the side. The spat between the coach and Ganguly erupted in 2005 after the latter went public stating that the Australian had asked him to step down from captaincy.

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Troubled phase

Later, in November 2005, he was removed as skipper and replaced by Rahul Dravid. In February 2006, when the squad for the home series against England was named, he didn’t find a place. “As an athlete, as a cricketer, all you could do was score runs. That’s what was in your control and you couldn’t do more than that,” Ganguly said at the India Today Conclave East 2017 in Kolkata.

Arguably India’s best captain, Ganguly, however made a comeback after a strong domestic show to be included for the South Africa tour later that year. “It was an eye opener. From 1995 to early 2006, the graph was only up. I never missed a series, captained India for six years, and the world was at my feet. And then suddenly, you didn’t find yourself in the team,” Ganguly said.

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Changed scenario

He is happy how the situation was different for Dhoni. “Not many captains in world cricket would actually go from not being captain to not even finding a position in the side. You look at MS Dhoni. He’s not the captain, but look how Virat Kohli looks after him and look at the way they go about the job.”

Not one to mince words, Ganguly said: “Individual sports are a lot better. Anything you do individually, which is not dependent on a team, is a lot better. The biggest problem we had is that we got selected by others. And even if you were good, you wouldn’t get a place in the side.”

Asked if that was why he called it a day, Ganguly said: “It’s not because you’ve had enough playing the sport; it’s because you’ve had enough of being selected all the time. Dropped, selected, well, that’s part and parcel of the game.”

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Kohli’s role

He, however, seemed happy with the current scenario and showered praise on Virat Kohli. “When I look at him (Kohli) on television, I love what I see. He’s passionate, honest… He looks after his players and when you see someone like him running Indian cricket, you know there’s transparency. You can see the way the team’s gone forward over the years.”

Walking down memory lane, Ganguly spoke about how things were different in his playing days. “My first Ranji Trophy game back in 1990 when I had gone to play for Bengal had earned me Rs 400. My first Test series in 1991 was Rs 30,000 for a four-month tour,” he said. “I went to Australia the last time and I saw Virat with his girlfriend. It was never the same in our days. So, the times have changed in the right way. That’s how it should be.”

Ganguly praised Kohli’s prolific batting, but refused to place alongside Sachin Tendulkar’s achievements.

“It’s not right to compare because these are two cricketers from different generations. I’ve seen Sachin very closely and some of the runs he’s got, some of the match-winning knocks that he’s had is fantastic, and you see Virat Kohli now. A hundred at Eden (104* vs Sri Lanka) on that sort of a pitch, you could see his expression. He’s a lot more expressive and proactive as captain than Sachin. Hundred 100s may still be a bit far away, but scoring 50 in nine years is phenomenal. I think he’ll get close to Sachin’s ODI centuries (49).

“He’s got to stay fit for that, and it gets tougher with age.”

First Published: Nov 25, 2017 18:39 IST