It’s been too long, isn’t it? But, we’ve opened up. Calcutta has opened up. So, it’s not been lockdown for me since maybe, June. I’ve started going to the office. I’m at the office at the moment and I’ve started shooting. I do my shoots, my commercials, I had to finish my show. So, I did that last month and BCCI work is regular because we are hosting the IPL in Dubai so its not been a lockdown that much since the month of June. Yes, we were careful. Travelling has not been at all a part of our lives as it was before. I used to be in Bombay every week. Ya, the BCCI office trying to get cricket going and working and everything, so. It’s been different. More than the lockdown, I think, the situation has been very difficult to handle, mentally. Trying to live with fear, you never experience when you met someone, the first thing which comes to your mind is he tested, is he okay, hope he is not going to infect you. So, that’s not the right way to lead life but hopefully, this will pass. We’ve gone through it for 5 and half months now and at some stage, I think somehow we are used to it now, expecting it to pass and then hopefully get back to normal in the next couple of months or 3-4 months, we don’t know.
Sourav Ganguly on catching up with his buddies during Quarantine
Not catching up but, maybe SMS. I just had a call from Yuvraj Singh, day before yesterday. He wants to play cricket, again. But yes, I’ve been in touch on and off with everyone. In Bombay, its a bit different because you have 4 or 5 or 6 of them in same city. That makes life a lot easier. But, from Calcutta, I think I am the only one. So, it’s either on phone or hello, or a tweet or an Instagram post and then having a laugh on it. Those were great days actually.
Sourav Ganguly reminisces about how he started playing the game!
No, no. There was no resistance. My father was desperate that I played the game. So, when I just passed out of school, he put me in an academy where I used to practice. Nothing in mind, just go and practice, and hit the ball and get away from home because those days, there were no computers, no mobiles so if you were not doing anything at home, mother wanted you to study. So, to get away from those big piles of books, cricket bat was a better option so you would go away in the afternoon, practice for three hours, meet your friends for two hours and five hours would be gone. So, it kept you away from home, kept you away from your parents’ discipline. So, that’s how it started at a young age. I just kept playing. I used to play Soccer quite a bit. Calcutta being a football crazy city in those days, still is. But, cricket has taken over I think. Life was a lot fun because you were not restricted by television, not restricted by mobiles. So, that’s how I started playing the game.
Sourav Ganguly’ wedding tale…
I was already playing for India, then, and was very successful after the first two test matches. So the story got, obviously, elongated a lot more than what it was. As it happens in the media. It was just a normal marriage. I knew her since I was young and decided to get married and that’s what it was. Got married and went away to the West Indies. I remember entering the lift in Jamaica, we flew about 24 hours those days to get to Jamaica and as we open the lift, both of us, we saw Ambrose, Walls and Bishops standing in the lift. And, we were literally, literally at the level of their chest. I’d ask my wife you must take this picture, this is going to be a life-time picture and she refused. Because she looked so short in front of Ambrose and Walls & Bishops so she said ‘No, no, no, I don’t want this picture. It will be embarrassing.’ But, yes, it was a normal marriage. It was made a little bit different by the media but, then, that’s what it is.
When Sourav Ganguly’s own daughter trolls him…
I remember that, I said I’m working on a Sunday and she said woken up, she had just woken up. So, what she was saying is that you work on a Sundays and just see, I’ve woken up at 1’o clock in the afternoon. Because, she had just finished her board exams. I think lot of the trolls is with good humor. Lot of people told me that you shouldn’t ask your daughter to troll you on Twitter, Instagram. I say what the hell, she can do whatever she wants. Because, I know she’s doing it in a good way and I don’t mind this banter. At least, she’s noticing dad because after 5-6 years she won’t even notice dad also.
Things that Sourav Ganguly has learned from his daughter and the younger generation
She’s fresh in her thinking. She looks at the world differently than what I do. Our thoughts over the years have been very closed because of the baggage we carry because of what we’ve gone through, because of the experiences we’ve had. But, when we look at young girls these days or young boys of the age of 17 and 18, its just fresh and fearless. They see the world differently. They react to situations differently and sometimes you sit back and see and say ‘oh god, that’s a good way to react to things. So Why don’t you do it?’ Everything is fine, there is no problem. She will get up and cook during the lockdown. Yesterday was her mother’s birthday so she made custard for her because she didn’t want to go to the hotel or the bakery to buy a cake. So, they just think differently. Messages they put in, you see their reactions to thing on Twitter, Instagram, its much different than what you think. That freshness is very, it makes you happy, it makes you feel good. Because, all of us, as we grow and as we get burdened with responsibilities of different ways of doing things and time management and the pressure, your thinking just gets very cordoned off which I don’t see with the young boys and girls.
Sourav Ganguly always went with his gut-feel. Here’s what he says about that…
I just went with gut-feel. Its not right to believe that you have the eye and you’ll always go with it. I just went with the gut-feel. I was given a responsibility. What I said to myself the day I got this responsibility is I’ll do the best what I can. I’m not just going to look at others and see and evaluate myself every time, whether I’m right, wrong, whether I’m doing the right things. I’ll just do what I know is best. As long as in my mind I know its good for Indian cricket, I’ll do it. I worked a lot on mindset also. Mindset in the sense, I’m a very easy person to work with. I’ve got no baggage’s. I don’t hound people. I don’t sit at their backs all the time, telling them that is my way, either you do it or we’ll find somebody else. So, I let people be. People express themselves. And, the likes of young Sehwag, Nehra, Nehra was the best of the lot. I even started being a fan of his, when one fine morning, he picked up his bags and baggage, went from Delhi to Goa to lead a happy life, I said, ‘Why did you do that?’. He said, ‘Delhi had too much pollution’. I said, ‘Only Nehra can do this.’ So, from that point of view they were all different. I think he needs friends also, he can’t stay alone. He wants his friends to be around, he wants people to listen to him. Of all his opinions and ideas and all the rubbish he will speak, you will have to listen. And you will hear it with the same intensity. And when it was young Yuvraj Singh who we dealt with, then there was Zaheer, so, fantastic people. I enjoyed my time with them. They knew how to respect and the best part of them was they were very adjustable. They went around their job being adjustable not being very pull-headed or stuck to certain things and I enjoyed their company. They also brought freshness because they were younger than me and youth always is something absolutely brilliant to deal with so they were great players in the dressing room, Sachin, Rahul, Anil, Laxman, Sehwag – they were all different.
The player who listened to no one, always did their own thing – Don’t think anybody did. Maybe, I did.
Players who followed your instructions religiously – Yuvraj, Harbhajan, Sehwag, Kaif. Ya, ya, Sehwag is a lovely, very obedient fellow. Yuvi would say ‘Aree dada, kya karwa rahe ho. Acha kar lete hai’. He’s like that only.
Players who left you surprise by going beyond what you expected – Sehwag, definitely. I think, when he started opening for India and the way he played as an opener, I did not expect him to play that well as a Test match opening batsman. Specially for someone who played all his life in the middle order. So, I think he is someone who has taken everybody very pleasantly surprised. And I would say he is one of the great players India has ever produced
Players you could never say no to – All of them, all of them. Sehwag, Yuvraj, Harbhajan, Zaheer, Sachin, all of them. I couldn’t say no.
Player who picked you when you were feeling low – Sachin, Veeru, Harbhajan, these three. Yuvraj didn’t have time, so. The rest had time to pick me up.
The best player you have ever captained – Sachin
Most difficult player you have captained – Sreenath. Difficult in a good sense, not in a bad sense. Difficult in a good sense because he had his own opinion and that opinion was the last word.
Best captain you have ever had – It’s very difficult to say. But obviously when I came in, Sachin was captain, my cricket blossomed under him because he gave me the freedom and gave me the opportunity to play the exposure which is required at that level so he will always be close to my heart. But, then if you see in terms of record, MS had just become captain when I finished, so in terms of record, I think MS will be right at the top. But, if you ask me, under whom my cricket really blossomed till I became captain in the year 2000, it would be Sachin. Because from 96 to 2000, I had him as my captain.
Sourav Ganguly shares inside details of the Indian Dressing Room!
It kept changing with every game. It depend on their form, how well they played, if they were scoring runs and taking wickets, you could see a lot more, a lot relaxed, a lot more freedom in the dressing room. If somebody wasn’t scoring runs so he was not in the best of the moods, he would be under pressure. If Anil Kumble was picking 5 wickets every game, he is the best guy to go to. If he was getting wacked around the ground, he is not the best guy to go to. So, Ashish Nehra was the another guy. If you would have dropped him a game, anytime he would get you 15 minutes in the dressing room he would take you to a corner and say ‘What a big mistake you’ve made by dropping me.’ Nehra is awesome and I miss meeting him, actually. I don’t know where he is in Goa. Everyone was different. Zaheer Khan was different, my coach John Wright who was one of my best friends in the team was different. It was great fun. That is what cricket was all about. It got people from Punjab, Bombay, Karnataka, Madras, Bangalore, Kolkata, and you live together, you share the dressing room together, you played for the country together and they were all different. Food habits were different, their music sense was different, their dressing sense was different, their way of celebration was different and that’s what made it so good and so special.
Sourav Ganguly talks about how the players had their own superstitions & beliefs before a match
We all had our superstitions. We wouldn’t say it. We would quietly keep it to ourselves hoping that kisi ka nazar na lag jaye. I would put the left pad first. I don’t know what Sachin did. I saw once Sachin having the black band in his hand for a long period of time. I asked him what is this for? He quietly said, Anjali ne daal diya and didn’t say what is it for. I didn’t ask also, maybe he didn’t want to say it. Lot of them believed that ki agar koi kuch mannat kiya hai toh bolna zaruri nahi hai. So, you wouldn’t go that extend to ask. Everybody had their own thing. Some wore the same shoe. I remember going to the world cup in 2003 where we lost in the finals, I played that entire world cup with Harbhajan’s shoes. He had an old half-and-half spikes. I played one game with it, I got a 100 and I kept wearing that for the next 6-7 months. Cleaning it up and painting it up and whitening it up. So, we all had our own different ways. We would see Harbhajan wear the same turban at times when he would pick 5 wickets, 6 wickets, 8 wickets. So, all these small small things we keep doing. Because your are under so much pressure, everyone is watching you. When you don’t play well, your driver says that you are not fit enough. I remember, against Pakistan, I was not getting runs and I got run out. So I came back home and my driver who worked with me twenty years, picked up my kick-bag and said are you training enough? Because you are getting run out quite often these days. So you deal with all those things. Its fun but at the same time its not easy and it teaches you a lot of things to do in your career.
Sourav Ganguly and what he has to say about coaches!
At that level, what will you coach a Tendulkar, you tell me? What will you coach a Rahul Dravid or a Sunil Gavaskar or a Anil Kumble? All you need to do is guide them and if they are doing a certain things wrongs, if their habits have just changed from what they were, just show them the path saying that you know this is what you need to get back to. Make sure that they are training enough. Make sure that they are fit and most importantly, in a good space of mind to perform. Because, that’s very important in professional sports. So, from that point of view, coach coach if you say you need more at a lower level, at a junior level at the under 19’s when they’re techniques are getting better, when they’re body is shaping up for the top level, they’re actions need to be sorted because once you get to that level, you come with a certain brand of talent, that’s what made you reach that level. So, you just need to harness it and make sure that mentally you are in a good space. I think coaches are very very important. We undermine their roles in cricket. At the end of the day, the players are different, they are in different space, different mind set. Its important for the coach to get all of them together in under one roof before the game starts and make sure that they are in the best space to perform.
Sourav Ganguly’s cold war with coach Greg Chappell
I have forgotten it. Because it’s too long. 14 years have gone by. So Its just gone past me because with time, you get out of things. But, then as you said, it happens, things happen in life. When you work with a group of people, some may like you some may not like you, so, that was one of those instances. But, that’s gone past me. It’s too long now.
Sourav Ganguly and what he says about sledging!
Ya, ya, many times. All in good sense because at the end of the day, you respected the players who you played against, because they were great players. I’ve played against an Australia, which was a tremendous Australia, probably the best team I’ve seen in the last 30-35 years and you encountered a Waugh, McGrath, Warne. but you sledge them, said something knowing at the back of your mind that they were great players and you had the respect for them because just that you had to win the game at the particular moment. So, I remember Shane Warne handling in Chennai in 2001, getting out handling the ball and we put him under so much pressure when he walked out to bat in the test match and I remember he gloving and getting out and picking the ball. So, we had a huge laugh with Warny and I keep reminding him even now also when I see him. Sledging happens in a good humour. I remember Glen Magra telling me, after the tour of Australia, after the first test when he nicked me out a couple of times, he said, ‘You might as well try batting right handed, because India might look for a another left-hander” and I was captain of the team. And, then we came back and beat them to 2-1 in that series, so. For us, Bhaju was different, young Parthiv Patel was very, very cheeky from behind the stumps. From the Australian side, there was Steve Waugh, who stood gully and had that stern nosy look in his eyes and keep exchanging words and Glen Magra was when he had the ball in hand. Mathew Hayden, in first slip as he could walk past you, there would be a quiet word, one went from the other end. They’re best of friends now. I see them at commentary and had have a great time with them. And, I had asked them, ‘Why do you say that in the test match in Calcutta? or in the test match in Sydney?’ He said, ‘No, we were under pressure to win that test match and we wanted to get you out so we had to do something.’ So from that point of view they also knew at the back of their mind that it was nothing personal, it was just trying to win a cricket match.
Sourav Ganguly talks about MS Dhoni’s retirement
No, I wasn’t. Because he hadn’t played cricket for a year. And, you know I said it that every good thing has got to come to an end because sports is like that. The best in the business have to finish. You see Tendulkar in cricket, Maradona in football, who was a huge, I’m a huge fan of Diego Maradona in football, Sampras, everyone has to go. India is absolutely proud that it had MS Dhoni, what he’s achieved in the shorter format of the game will be very hard to match by anyone in the future. I don’t believe in that word but I feel, it’s going to be a tough thing for anyone to match what he’s achieved in the shorter format.
Sourav Ganguly and his wise words of Dhoni!
Ya, ya. He was a very quiet person. He came from Ranchi, obviously. Anyone who walks into Indian dressing room takes a bit of time to settle down. But, I loved the young MS Dhoni, the way he batted, the way he hit the cricket ball with his long hair, that swagger, that perceived arrogance, he was not arrogant at all. Its just the way he walked and his demeanour and his stature and the way he hit sixes and reacted, made him look like that. But, he was a very simple, straight-forward person from Ranchi who came during the time in 2005 and what a player he has been for India as I said, I enjoyed the young Dhoni who would just clear fences at will, never thought of taking singles, putting the balls in the gap, just thought of picking that heavy bat and hitting the balls into the stands. So, I liked that MS Dhoni very much.
Sourav Ganguly on being a players man , pressure and much more!
I was a player myself, so I’m a player’s man, always. That’s what I was. We, in India are blessed with cricket, because its a sport which is all the benefits in the world you can ever imagine. It’s a sport. You want to be in a job which has pressure and I’ve always said that, you don’t want to turn up where people are laughing, smiling and whatever you did mattered, or did not matter. So you need to be in a job where whatever you did mattered and that’s what brings in pressure. So, pressure is part and parcel of life, whether your doing a film, whether you’re playing cricket, whether you’re a businessman, you need to live with that pressure because it actually gets the best out of you, at times. You should be waking up in the morning nervous, trying to make a thing successful and I think that’s the best bit of life. So, I just try and help, try and make things work for the game. The game takes care of itself in India. People don’t have or administrators don’t have to do much running or hustle and bustle to get this game successful. You organize matches, you put tickets up on sale, the stands get filled in no time.
Sourav Ganguly’s love for Football and Yuvi’s football skills.
That city, in my growing up period. And I was very good at it. I was not a Yuvraj Singh who would first miss with the left foot and ultimately strike it with the right foot. As much as his batting was right up there among the best, his football was right down there among the worst. That was the disparity we had in his football and cricket. Calcutta is a mad football city. When I used to be in school, I used to finish school at 3 pm, get onto the bus, go to Mohan Bhagani spin ball ground and watch them play the league matches and come back home at 6′ o clock in the evening after a whole day of school. That, how much fond I was of football. But, I’ve seen football in a generation where Bengal just dominated it.
Sourav Ganguly on women’s cricket and its future
Ya, I meet them. I meet them very often when they come to the BCCI office. It will come to the attention. If you see in the last world cup in Australia, the final has 86,000 people watching at the MCG which India lost to Australia. So, people want to come and watch women’s cricket. We put enough attention to women’s cricket importance because they’re some super players. Smriti Mandhana then Harmanpreet Kaur, she hits massive sixes, Harmanpreet. I saw her innings in the last world cup in England, she got a 170 in the semi-final against Australia. It’s one of the great one-day innings you’ll see for a long period of time. And, I see her, she comes for captains meetings, she sits next to me and picks up the team for the women’s team for various tournaments and she’s strong. Her forearms and shoulders, now you realize why she hit the ball so far. We give as much importance to women’s cricket and its only going to get better. You watch the next 3-4 years it will be right up there. I have got no choice, I’m the only man in the house and all around me are women so I have to look after them. That’s what happens in your family. When the family gets ruled by the ladies around. Whether its the mother, whether its the wife, whether its the daughter.
Sourva Ganguly and what he has to say about IPL 2020
I’ve just got my fingers crossed, Neha. Because, its a different word now with Covid. We have created everything, the Bio-bubble safety, the players are already in Dubai and Abu-Dhabi, getting ready for the big tournament and IPL has just taken the world by storm, just the popularity, just the way the players want to play. Its an unbelievable tournament. Every ticket, every game would just fly off. So, that’s what IPL does. Its going to remain strong for the next 15-20 years. Because, these perfect people come to the ground after the days work, come with their families, enjoy it, see sixes and fours from the best players, the players they love. The match gets decided by the time they get home and this is here to stay. So, this is a remarkable format.
Here’s what Hrithik would have to do if he’d star in Saurav Ganguly’s biopic
Sourav – But he’s got to get a body like me, first. Lot of people would say the way Hrithik’s body is, how good-looking he is, and how muscular he is, people would say ‘Aree, you’ll have to get a body like Hrithik’. But, Hrithik will have to get a body like me before he starts.