The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘I expect him to provide the spark’
- I believe I can help Sourav win back his India place: Kepler Wessels

Calcutta: A most supportive uncle greeted Sourav Ganguly on his arrival in London, Saturday evening. The welcome should be as warm when the former Team India captain reaches Northampton for a short County innings there.

“Sourav will be with us tomorrow and I’m arranging for him to have nets late in the day' We’re, of course, delighted that he agreed to join as (Australian) Chris Rogers’ replacement,” Northamptonshire coach Kepler Wessels told The Telegraph.

Speaking from Northampton, the 48-year-old former South African captain (a Test centurion on debut for Australia, too), added: “Sourav has loads of experience and has much to offer' We’ve just beaten Glamorgan, but have otherwise been struggling' I expect him to provide the spark that has been missing this season'”

Northamptonshire finished fourth in Division-II of the Championship last year. They weren’t great in the limited overs matches either.

According to Wessels, that Sourav is “very keen” to make an international comeback is going to help him and the County.

“Sourav’s determination will help both parties' I don’t know the ins-and-outs of Indian cricket and I don’t know why he fell out with (coach) Greg Chappell, but I do know Sourav has the calibre to add value at Northamptonshire' Moreover, I believe I can help him win back his India place,” he asserted.

Wessels laughed when asked if he would have to ‘handle’ Sourav delicately.

“I’m accustomed to working with big names' I’ve already spoken to him quite a few times ' including this evening ' and I haven’t ever sensed a communication gap' Sourav is going to be with us till early August and I don’t foresee problems'”

Sourav will be used as an opener in the limited overs matches (Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy) and in a Twenty20 competition. In the Championship fixtures, Wessels intends slotting him “anywhere from No.4 to 6.”

“He’s comfortable with flexibility, which is good,” Wessels remarked, adding Sourav would do “quite a bit of bowling” as well.

Incidentally, Wessels’ son Riki is the County’s No.1 wicketkeeper.

“I’ve never felt awkward as he’s good enough to hold his place on his own' He had three centuries last year and I expect him to gain by rubbing shoulders with Sourav and (Lance) Klusener,” Wessels said.

Klusener, by the way, isn’t playing as an overseas pro but as a Kolpac player ' an arrangement which favours cricketers from Test-playing countries like South Africa and Zimbabwe.

The ‘senior’ overseas pro is Australian quick Matthew Nicholson. Rogers, it may be recalled, has been called for A duty.

Wessels, who has coached Eastern Province back in South Africa, has been with Northamptonshire for four years.

Sourav, who had a full season with Lancashire in 2000 and who turned out for Glamorgan last year, is going to be the fifth Indian to play for Northamptonshire.

Ramesh Divecha, Bishan Singh Bedi, Kapil Dev and Anil Kumble preceded him.

Wessels informed that Sourav’s County debut will be in the four-day Championship match versus Worcestershire, beginning Wednesday.

It’s an away-fixture.

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