Calcutta, May 8: “Mone aache' Oi din aapnar shonghe gatey kotha bole chilum… Oi din…”
Seeking to cool off in his trophy-studded living room after being caught in a snarl on the way home from Tolly last evening, Sourav Ganguly was taken aback.
However, not wanting to be seen an ungracious host, the Team India captain managed a rather weak “hain…”
The mother of one of wife Dona’s pupils, though, was ecstatic even with that unconvincing recognition.
As for Sourav, he is getting used to being ‘cornered’ with “mone aache” and its variations — goes with being India’s most successful (Test) captain and Bengal’s hottest brand.
Incidentally, the lady came in a group of well-wishers from Diksha Manjari, Dona’s school for classical Indian dance and singing. Bouquets and cards apart, Sourav was presented with a box of chocolates.
The captain was about to begin a one-on-one with The Telegraph when another set of visitors turned up. More photographs… More autographs… More “dhonnobaads”…
Having just finished a most demanding season — highpoints being tours to Australia and Pakistan, one reasonably and the other very successful — Sourav appeared a little reluctant to specifically talk about cricket.
However, he did make the point about using this off-season to focus on raising the quality of the emerging players.
“For starters, we must have good wickets for domestic cricket… By that, I mean ones which will be quick and not turn into dust bowls… To get better, our players should be exposed to wickets favouring the fast bowlers,” Sourav remarked.
Obviously, the future rests on pace, something the captain is going to convey to the Board, particularly president Jagmohan Dalmiya.
Significantly, one understands a move is afoot to schedule a camp exclusively for the quickest in the country. Apparently, the idea has already been discussed by members of the Team India thinktank and is likely to be endorsed by the Board.
Of course, Sourav himself declined to comment — “Please, it’s for the Board to speak” — but it won’t surprise if the camp gets slotted next month, when coach John Wright is expected back from New Zealand.
[Team India’s break is till the July 16-August 1 Asia Cup in Sri Lanka.]
Logically, such a focussed camp will need a specialist bowling coach and the Board may fall back on Kapil Dev. Perhaps, even Jawagal Srinath. In the long run, though, a permanent arrangement is imperative.
Sourav has often called for a bowling coach and Wright hasn’t felt ‘threatened’. In fact, he was comfortable working with Bruce Reid during the trip to Australia.
While wickets is an area of concern for the captain, the fitness bit isn’t far from his thoughts either. “Personally, I feel the best available trainers must work with Greg (King)… That’s going to benefit domestic cricket and, in the long run, help Team India,” Sourav pointed out.
It’s widely believed that a captain who stands out is one with a vision, not necessarily somebody with the best record. Well, on both fronts, Sourav isn’t to be found wanting.
n Footnote: Asked how Team India could go one better, Sourav replied passionately: “By each one of us raising the bar… The desire to improve has to come from within… It surely will.”