The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘I refuse to react to quit calls’

Auckland: Sourav Ganguly offers no excuses for his team’s poor performance in New Zealand, but he said Thursday that he prefers ignoring calls for his removal as captain.

The left-hand bat, arguably the most combative captain ever to have led India, said he was no longer “impulsive and angry” when faced with demands that he be sacked.

“It’s a policy these days when a team tours and a captain struggles a bit, they get after the captain. Same thing has happened to Nasser Hussain in Australia. But no longer do I get impulsive and angry. I prefer to ignore such reactions,” Sourav said.

“Records and statistics can’t always be wrong. They are not always right but are correct at least to the extent of 80 per cent.

“I am a firm believer in Richie Benaud’s theory — a captain is as good as his team. If everyone says it worked according to a plan, it’s wrong.

“If any captain says he has spent two days in chalking out plans to get (Sachin) Tendulkar and Ganguly out and it’s happened exactly — he’s lying.”

Sourav said his guiding philosophy as captain was to be honest at all times and go by instinct. “Nobody is a born captain. Most of the time, I’ve gone on instinct.

“Like against the West Indies in Chennai, John (Wright) sent me a message to bowl (Anil) Kumble and have spinners from both ends. Just by instinct I brought back Zaheer (Khan) and he got four wickets and won us the Test.

“It wasn’t a plan. With the ball spinning and West Indies struggling against slow bowlers, anyone would’ve got spinners from both ends. I have tried in my tenure as captain to be honest. If somebody is good he should play. I try to do what is good for the team and the country.”

Sourav feels it is a huge honour to lead India but adds the constant spotlight could be exasperating at times. “When I played Ranji Trophy at 17, I didn’t think I will be representing my country.

“After being dropped in 1992, I never thought I would come back. When I returned, I couldn’t have dreamt I would be leading the country in four years.

“There is pleasure and pressure to go with the job. But sometimes there is too much attention — not off the field but on it. Every move, every shot evokes opinion and sometimes you get fed up.”

The Indian captain said he has two immediate ambitions — to do well at Eden Gardens and tour New Zealand again to make up for the present debacle.

“I am disappointed with my form at Eden Gardens. I’ve played all my cricket there, played five Tests, captained in two. We’ve done well as a team but not me. As for New Zealand, I want to come here again.”

Sourav believes some matches in the current series were far closer than what the results conveyed.

“Except for the one in Queenstown, all the games were pretty close. You could look at the Tests or one-dayers and see there wasn’t much between the two sides.”

India lost the Test series 0-2 and are trailing the seven-match ODI series 1-4.

“In Hamilton (Test), 20-30 runs would have made a big difference. The first ODI we should have won. In Napier, (Virender) Sehwag and (Rahul) Dravid were in control before we lost the game.”

The batters did miserably and none looked more out of touch than Sourav himself who made only 29 from the four Test innings and just 20 in the five ODIs so far. “When I returned from England, I was averaging nearly 60 with nearly 900 runs under my belt. I really wanted to do well in the remaining five Tests.”

However, he could make only 49 at 12.25 against the West Indies before the New Zealand debacle. Sourav said some poor umpiring decisions affected his performance to a great extent.

“Umpires do make mistakes but I have been at the wrong end many times. It doesn’t help a batsman at all. Obviously, it plays in my mind.”

Sourav seemed worried that India is producing only spinner allrounders. “Most of our allrounders are spinner allrounders. But that’s because of pitches used in Ranji Trophy.”

He solicited help from former seam bowlers. “We got to have a person to identify bowlers. I once told so to Mr Jagmohan Dalmiya. Bring them to one place and let someone like Kapil Dev coach them. Have a fitness guy, a proper gym and keep them at one place for ten months.

“Even guys like Zaheer, Ashish (Nehra) and Ajit (Agarkar), when they’re not playing, could go back and work there. As captain it becomes difficult if the crop of good fast bowlers are missing. But fast bowlers are thoroughbreds. It doesn’t happen overnight.”

Sourav refused to admit that Murali Kartik and Ajay Ratra got a raw deal during his captaincy. “Kartik has been unlucky. He has to put up with two world class spinners in Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh. Whenever they have been injured, he’s come back. Ratra got nine Tests in all. He is a good glovesman and had a hundred in Antigua but he couldn’t score runs in any of the other games.

“Not that Parthiv (Patel) has done anything exceptional with the bat. So that leaves room open for Ratra. But honestly, one cricketer hard done by criticism is Deep Dasgupta,” Sourav said.

“Deep kept well in South Africa but he did poorly in two Tests at home. As criticism mounted, his keeping deteriorated. He could have allowed an extra bowler or an extra allrounder to fit into the team.” (PTI)

n Indians will come good in Cup, says Cairns: Page 18

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