| Sourav Ganguly, in New Delhi, on Friday |
New Delhi: Former India captain Sourav Ganguly feels pace bowler Zaheer Khan needs to play more matches before the first Test against Australia, beginning in Melbourne on Boxing Day.
Zaheer is a great bowler… we have seen some memorable performances from him over the years, said Sourav on Friday. But playing just one Ranji Trophy tie would not be enough to judge his fitness.
I feel Zaheer is still not hundred per cent fit and we cant afford to have a 50 per cent fit Zaheer Khan in Australia. Zaheer still needs to play a lot more matches to regain full fitness. One Ranji Trophy game is not enough, Sourav said on the sidelines of the launch of Wisden India in association with Fidelis World.
There are 24 days still left before the first Test and I believe Zaheer will play another Ranji game as well as two practice matches in Australia. The BCCI has planned the schedule well unlike 10 years back when I had to appear for a fitness test only 10 days prior to an important tour, he said.
Sourav, who was leading Bengal in the Ranji Trophy game against Haryana at Rohtak till Friday evening, drove down to Delhi for the function.
Sourav said the tour of Australia would also be a great challenge for off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
Things in Australia would be totally different, he said. Ashwin is a gifted cricketer. But bowling in India with SG balls against an inconsistent West Indies batting line-up is completely different from bowling with the Kookaburra balls. Also, the quality of batsmen will certainly be better in Australia.
Sourav, however, was not ready to comment on who should come in as a replacement for the injured Praveen Kumar.
Asked if Irfan Pathan or Ashish Nehra could be considered, Sourav said: We should have a good young pacer…whoever it is.
About Irfan, I have heard that he is bowling well but my question would be whether he is good enough to get into the team on the merit of his bowling alone.
As far as Nehra is concerned, it is nice to see him playing the four-day game. Also, he is getting wickets, which is a good sign. I dont think that not being in the central contracts is an issue. He is only 32 and still can play for India for some time.
Asked what he thought about former New Zealand all-rounder Chris Cairns comment that former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has become an elephant in the dressing room, Sourav said it was a ridiculous and reckless jibe.
He (Cairns) said that yesterday and today I guess Ponting is batting close to 70 (67 batting). I have always said this and I maintain, please dont judge batsmen like Ponting, (Sachin) Tendulkar or (Rahul) Dravid by their age. To do so would be a huge mistake.
As the chairman of the technical committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the former captain feels some changes could be brought into the present format of the Ranji Trophy.
At times, the second innings becomes immaterial. It happened only today in our match against Haryana. We need to look at possibilities whether Ranji matches can be made five-day affairs, he said.