New Delhi: There are many facets of Sourav Ganguly that the world knows. A passionate and aggressive cricketer, a captain who backed his players to the hilt, a fighter and a friend.
Many of such tales were discussed and secrets revealed as Ganguly launched his book A Century is Not Enough by Juggernaut here on Monday evening.
Fellow players Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh along with former board president Anurag Thakur recollected instances of how Ganguly shaped a young India and also let out a few dressing room secrets!
Yuvraj, who was mentored by Ganguly, revealed how they made a ‘Bakra’ of Ganguly on April Fool’s Day, when they were playing Pakistan in the early 2000.
“We managed to print a fake newspaper in which Ganguly had criticised all of us in an interview. It said that Bhajji (Harbhajan Singh) was only interested in parties and Viru was not serious. Basically, all the bad things about the team.
“We reached the ground and were there in the dressing room. Me and Bhajji approached Dada and said we will not play today’s match. We handed him the newspaper and Dada’s face went white.
“The dressing room was very tense and Dada panicked. He said, ‘I am ready to resign today if I gave this interview. This is false, believe me,’ he kept pleading.
“After a while we burst out laughing and Dada was running behind us with his bat in the dressing room. But then that was the captain he was, always approachable and friendly. And it said of how we all were as a team,” Yuvraj said.
In a career spanning over a decade, Ganguly went on to build a Team India that took the world by storm and knew how to win overseas.
Sehwag, who was a vital part of that team, related how Ganguly’s faith in them made them the cricketers they were but also “accused” Dada of making them pack his kitbag!
“We youngsters couldn’t say no to the captain!” Sehwag said tongue-in-cheek. “It was in 2001 and I was very new. Dada will not agree but he said pack my kit bag. Maine socha kar lo nahi to bahar ho jaoge.
“Sourav was a great captain and also someone who would back you. He would come to your room and say acha khelo yaar and grow.
“As for the kitbag, yes that was true. I packed it till the time I did not get a first Test hundred. Uske baad hum bhi baadshah ho gaye the, so I stopped!,” Sehwag said evoking laughter.
Ganguly though had his own version of the story! “They did that because I as a captain was giving press conferences and that delayed the team bus. They wanted to party in the night and thus packed my bags so that we could reach early!”
And then there was the famous shirt-waving incident at the Lord’s balcony in the 2002 Natwest series. Yuvraj revealed that “he too had removed his shirt on Dada’s insistence and Ganguly related how V.V.S. Laxman “kept pulling down on his shirt all the while”.
Shared Ganguly, “On one hand, we had players like Laxman and Dravid and on the other the mad-max captain waving his shirt. Laxman kept pulling it down while Bhajji was standing behind me asking, “what should I do?
Dada bats for Virat
Ganguly also backed India skipper Virat Kohli saying the latter “commands a lot of respect and is the one who will take Indian cricket forward.”
Asked if the current generation of players had a lot of say in decision-making, especially in the manner in which Anil Kumble was removed as India coach last year, Ganguly said, “No, I do not think so. That one incident doesn’t create an institution or a benchmark.”
Players are stars but then when you already have 35 ODI hundreds you command a lot of respect. Virat is going on at a brisk pace. He is a very humble guy and I believe how you are off-field gets carried on the field too,” former Indian skipper added further.