Calcutta: Without being aware of Sourav Ganguly’s keenness, Glamorgan had actually been negotiating with V.V.S. Laxman for a short-term tie-up.
Laxman, however, backed out as he didn’t want to miss the Team India probables’ pre-season conditioning camp ' expected to start before mid-July.
Incidentally, that camp will be the first supervised by new coach Greg Chappell and is going to be part of the build-up for the August 2-14 tri-series in Sri Lanka.
“Given that you have a new coach, Laxman said he wouldn’t like to miss the first formal opportunity of interacting with him' Apparently, he’s keen to know whether there will again be a role for him in the one-day side,” informed County coach John Derrick.
Laxman’s anxiety is understandable.
Speaking to The Telegraph from Cardiff, on Saturday, Derrick added: “It’s only later we got to know Sourav was holidaying in London and was keen' It’s an honour having the Indian captain with us.”
Sourav, who had a full season with Lancashire in 2000, is going to be with Glamorgan till at least the end of July. Should his ICC-imposed six-ODI ban stay, he will extend his stay by a fortnight.
The County’s other overseas pro is Australia’s Matthew Elliott, who has been offered a contract for 2006 as well. Last year, he had compatriots Michael Kasprowicz and Nick Lewis for company.
A one-time allrounder, Derrick himself played for Glamorgan from 1983-91 (four of those years with Ravi Shastri) and is confident Sourav is going to make a difference both on and off the field.
“I expect Sourav to have the same impact as Viv Richards and Waqar Younis, both of whom played for two seasons each in the 1990s' In particular, the younger batsmen are waiting for Sourav’s tips on tackling spinners' They can learn quite a bit,” Derrick remarked.
Of course, among the overseas pros he forgot to list the awesome Majid Khan, who raised membership levels phenomenally during the many years he spent at the County late 1960s onwards.
While it’s certain Sourav will bat at No. 5 in the Championship games, the coach has kept open the option of opening with him in the limited overs matches.
“That’s going to be sorted out when I meet Sourav on Tuesday, a day before his debut against Sussex in a Championship game' I did speak to him in London, when the contract was signed earlier this week, but the discussions then were general,” Derrick pointed out.
He added: “Elliott and (captain) Robert Croft are opening in the shorter version, but I would like to hear what Sourav has to say.”
Glamorgan got promoted to Division 1 this season, but have lost the first five Championship matches.
“It’s disappointing and the reasons for such a performance are many' Having made that point, I’m hopeful the tide will turn in our favour' Perhaps, Sourav’s arrival is going to make all the difference,” Derrick signed off.
Meanwhile, Sourav’s work permit is ready, but he needs a fresh (different category) visa.
The visa is being organised in Brussels and Sourav will be there on Monday morning. As the paperwork won’t take much time, he’s going to be back in London that evening itself.
Sourav, it seems, will head straight for Cardiff from Heathrow/Gatwick. As the original schedule got upset (owing to the work permit hassle), it’s not clear whether Dona and Sana are going to accompany him or travel later.