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Since 1st March, 1999
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‘It’s going to be nice getting away...’
- Countdown begins for Sourav’s return to ‘special place’

Singapore: In less than a fortnight, Sourav Ganguly will be off to England, a country that’s “always” going to have a “special place” in his heart. For the second year in succession, India’s most successful Test captain will be featuring in County cricket ' albeit, this time, as a replacement for one of Northamptonshire’s signings.

“It’s going to be nice getting away from home and India... Playing for Northants will, hopefully, be a good change as I’m going to be doing what I like best... Then, I’ll be based pretty close to London, a favourite city of mine,” Sourav told The Telegraph when contacted on his cellphone Saturday.

In 2005, the County finished fourth in Division II. While former South African captain Kepler Wessels (who telephoned Sourav the other day) is the coach, Lance Klusener is on its rolls. As also the Monty Panesars and Usman Afzals.

Incidentally, Bishan Singh Bedi spent quite a few summers in Northampton.

Sourav added: “I don’t have to prove anything (by playing first-class cricket), but I’m going to be ready if the selectors recall me... England will always have a special place in my heart... I scored a hundred (131) on my Test debut at Lord’s, I did very well (379 runs, average of 54-plus) in the1999 World Cup and also did very well (351 runs, average of 58-plus in Tests) on our 2002 tour...

“In fact, it’s not that I’ve delivered in only the India colours... I had a reasonable stint with Lancashire in 2000 and performed for Glamorgan last summer... It’s nice that Northants chose me and not anybody else when a vacancy (Chris Rogers’ call-up for Australia A) cropped up...”

Not that one ought to read too much into what chief selector Kiran More said some days ago ' basically that County performances would be considered ' but handsome scores should carry weight if the Team India batsmen continue to struggle in the West Indies.

Sourav, by the way, declined to talk about our 1-4 drubbing in the ODIs and the poor start to the Test series there. He’s apprehensive that a comment could be taken out of context, by somebody, and given a slant. That’s exactly why Greg Chappell doesn’t speak about Sourav.

Saluted as a “world class player” by Northants chief executive Mark Tagg, which must have irked a few currently in the West Indies, Sourav is to have a challenging mix of matches between the end of this month and August 8, when his contract ends.

“Championship games, limited overs matches, a Twenty20 competition... It’s a pleasing schedule and there won’t be the monotony of just one form of cricket... Frankly, I’m quite excited,” he remarked.

Despite over 10,000 runs in ODIs, Sourav hasn’t found a place in the shorter version for nine months. His last Test appearance was in Karachi. Surely, then, the past many months would have been tough on the mind'

Sourav ducked: “Today, I’m looking forward to leaving on the 15th... I’ve got this chance to stay involved with cricket... I don’t wish to talk about what has gone...” Perhaps, that’s par for the course he’s on in the present times.

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