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Since 1st March, 1999
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Sourav’s captaincy has direction: Steve
- ‘I don’t know whether I will be around... winning the 2004-2005 series in India is a collective target for Australia’
Sourav Ganguly
Steve Waugh

Calcutta: The vibes between the two weren’t terrific in the 2000-2001 series (the last set of India-Australia bilateral engagements), but Sourav Ganguly continues to draw inspiration from Steve Waugh.

In fact, the Team India captain readily acknowledges that. As for Australia’s Test captain and icon, he is happy to be “admired” by one of his peers.

“It’s nice being admired by a peer… However, it also means I’ve grown old, that I’ve been around for quite some time (from 1985-86),” the 38-year-old Steve told The Telegraph, Thursday, a few hours before completing his city commitments and leaving for Chennai.

He added: “I suppose Sourav and I can relate to each other as both are captains and understand the pressure and responsibility… Sourav (captain since March 2000) is growing in the job and he’s been very good.

“Indeed, his captaincy has direction and he enjoys his team’s respect… Captaincy calls for tough decisions and he doesn’t go for soft options. Under Sourav, the boys haven’t been backing down and they seem to enjoy a fight. Overall, there’s a new toughness and your cricket now has an edge.”

In Steve’s opinion, though, Team India must improve the overseas-record. “I can appreciate why Sourav is desperate to do well outside the country and, if I may add, there has been an improvement in India’s away-performances.”

Asked about areas where Sourav could improve, he answered: “Hard to say, for I haven’t actually analysed him as captain… What’s relevant is that the boys are playing tight and solid cricket. Earlier, most Indian sides would fall apart under pressure — not this one.”

The last India versus Australia encounter (at any level) was this year’s World Cup final and, as has been well documented, India were beaten black and blue. Moreover, the debate over whether Sourav was right in inserting Ricky Ponting and Co. is going to continue.

Steve, for his part, had this to say: “On that specific issue, my comments today will be quite irrelevant… But, yes, I do feel the toss gets overestimated. If every captain who wins the toss wins the game, then why play' Your approach should be such that whatever you choose to do first enhances the chance of winning.”

Assuming that he doesn’t decide to quit, between now and the visit by India beginning end-November, Steve and Sourav will be in each other’s path during the four-Test series Down Under.

[Significantly, asked whether seeking to avenge the 2000-2001 Test series defeat in 2004-2005 — when Australia next undertake a full tour — was a target, he responded: “I don’t know whether I’ll be around… Form, desire, selection… So many factors will come into play and, so, it’s a collective target for Australian cricket. What I can confidently say is that it will be as great a series as the last one.”]

By then, of course, Steve (already the most capped Test cricketer) will probably be even more of an Elder Statesman.

“It’s nice to be in that position… The pressure is more, but I don’t mind… What legacy will I be leaving behind' Don’t know… I would, however, like to be remembered as somebody who always gave 100 per cent,” he remarked, as the time neared for another meeting on the proposed facility (outside Udayan) for the leprosy sufferers’ daughters.

That 100 per cent bit won’t be a problem.


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