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Sourav Ganguly’s book reveals highs and lows of his tumultuous cricket career

Sourav Ganguly, in his book titled ‘A Century is Not Enough’ has written about how guru-turned-foe Greg Chappell ‘didn’t exist’ for him and how he felt belittled by selectors’ decision to keep testing him

cricket Updated: Feb 02, 2018 19:22 IST
Devarchit Varma
Devarchit Varma
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Sourav Ganguly,Indian national cricket team,Anil Kumble
Sourav Ganguly has spoken of how Anil Kumble was a pillar of strength during the time when he was not considered to be part of the Indian cricket team. (AFP/Getty Images)

Former captain Sourav Ganguly has detailed his anguish over his retirement call as India cricketer, in a teaser chapter released ahead of the launch of his first book titled ‘A Century Is Not Enough’.

One of India’s most successful and famous captains, Ganguly has written about how guru-turned-foe Greg Chappell ‘didn’t exist’ for him, about former captain Anil Kumble’s strong support, and how he felt belittled by selectors’ decision to keep testing him in matches despite scoring thousands of runs.

Ganguly recalled the troubled days of Durga Puja in 2008 and how he had to make the toughest call of his career. “Little did I know that the toughest decision of my life was to be announced on a Puja day in 2008. On Mahastami, when celebrations are usually at their peak, two days before the Bengaluru Test, I took part in a press conference.”

‘Did not cry at my father’s death’

Ganguly, admired for his heroics more than his batting feats, recalled how tough he has been throughout his life. “I did not cry even at my father’s death. Most of you, like my friend, won’t believe me. Sourav is not telling the truth, you’ll be saying to yourself. But some of you will be nodding your head in agreement. You know my type. We are a minority who tend to think tears are the easy way out of sadness. But don’t let our masks fool you. Maybe it’s because we hold our emotions in check that they remain within us even more. We look tough on the outside, but inside we bleed.”

Describing the day of his retirement as ‘still a raw wound’, he wrote, “The events of that summer afternoon in 2008 still remain a raw wound for me. I was going for practice at Eden Gardens and had almost reached Fort William, which was just two minutes away. Suddenly my mobile rang. The caller happened to be a journalist. He had heard the news that I had been left out of the Rest of India squad, which is a clear indicator of how the selectors feel about you.”

“Me dropped? The Asian batsman and player of the year left out from a Rest of India team, I asked myself. After having scored consistently for the last three and a half years for India? But why? It can’t have been my skill as I had only failed in one series in Sri Lanka where, apart from one batsman, none of my colleagues had done well. Yet they had all got picked. I was angry. Disillusioned,” he revealed.

Kumble – a pillar of support

“I decided to call up the captain of my team and try to get to the bottom of the mess,” Ganguly continued.

“I asked him point-blank, did he think I was no longer an automatic choice in his eleven? Kumble — the gentleman that he has always been — seemed embarrassed with my call. He told me he hadn’t been consulted before the selection committee chaired by Dilip Vengsarkar took this decision.”

“I believed he had the courage to tell me honestly if he had been consulted. I had one more question for him. Did he still believe that his team wanted my services? Kumble’s reply consoled me. He said if it came to him taking the call, he would pick me again for the upcoming Test match selection. I heaved a great sigh of relief. There was hope after all.”

“I of course had a chat with Anil before I reached Chennai. He told me; don’t decide anything in a hurry. Give it some time. I assured him I would. But deep down I knew my time was up. I made up my mind that I would give everything I had to be successful in this series (against Australia),” Ganguly added.

Sourav Ganguly has written about how guru-turned-foe Greg Chappell ‘didn’t exist’ for him. (AFP/Getty Images)

From riches to rags

Ganguly described how decided play in a lesser-known tournament just to prove himself. “I mean no disrespect to the tournament but most of you outside the northern cricketing belt have probably never heard of the JP Atrya Memorial Trophy. Even I knew of it only vaguely,” he recalled.

“It was the seven toughest days of my cricketing career. After having played in more than 400 international games, I had to play a tournament where I did not even know any of the players. Although I had scored more than 18,000 international runs, the runs I had to score here felt as urgent to me as in any international Test match.”

“Alone in my Chandigarh hotel room, I thought to myself that this was truly surreal. Just three months ago at a glittering function in Karachi I was awarded a prize for being Asia’s best batsman. Due to my commitments I couldn’t make it to the ceremony. Dona (his wife) had flown down to Karachi and accepted the award on my behalf. And here I was in this mess. It was like driving a Rolls-Royce one day and sleeping on the pavement the next,” Ganguly continued.

Agitated again

His selection in Indian Board President’s XI team to face Australia in Chennai was another blow, as Ganguly expressed. “The Board President’s XI is traditionally used to vet the potential of promising youngsters or assess veterans whose Test future is uncertain. I was included in it as well. The message was crystal clear — that a veteran of 100-plus Test matches, a certain Sourav Ganguly, was again on trial.”

“I felt extremely agitated. That is when I told my father that I needed to call it a day. Enough was enough. My father was a bit surprised. In the past when Greg Chappell had kept me out of the team and I was desperately fighting to claw my way back, he had wanted me to retire, unable to bear his son’s struggle,” he added.

First Published: Feb 02, 2018 19:19 IST