The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘I’ve got to start from scratch’
- I’ve performed in the past, but that’s no guarantee for success: Sourav
Sourav Ganguly at Lord’s on Tuesday

London: Exactly a year ago, out-in-the-cold Sourav Ganguly was trying to make the most of a short-term contract at Northants. “I didn’t even know we’d be playing a Test at Lord’s, forget about hoping to tour England this summer!” he told The Telegraph on Tuesday afternoon. A while earlier, the former Team India captain (the only Asian to author a hundred on Test debut at Lord’s), interacted with the media.

The following are excerpts

On his emotions in the lead-up to yet another Test at Lord’s, where he made his debut 11 years ago

Just want to do well… I’ve performed in the past, but that’s no guarantee for success… Remember, it’s a one-ball game for batsmen…

On his frame of mind going into that debut Test

A shade emotionally) I’ve never had that frame of mind again… Somehow, I’ve not been able to develop that… I wasn’t nervous, wasn’t afraid of failure… My mind was clear and I enjoyed every single day of that Test… Perhaps, age had something to do with it… Different thoughts crop up when you’ve been around for some time…

[Sourav turned 35 on July 8.]

On whether, nowadays, he doesn’t enjoy all five days of a Test

No… No… It’s not that… I didn’t have any worries then… As I’ve said, the fear of failure wasn’t there… With experience, one begins to think about a lot of things… For example, about contributing to the team.

On 11 years as a Test cricketer

I’ve evolved as a batsman… I’ve learnt to play in different conditions, learnt to tackle different bowlers… Learnt about my strengths and weaknesses… I’ve had to work things out to get better.

On his comeback last December

Look, everything depends on how well you’re playing… It’s about form… I’ve done well in both forms (after making a return)… Today, I have a good mindset… But with nothing guaranteed, I’ve got to start from scratch all over again. The past is past… At best, it lifts confidence.

On the current Indian pace attack being short on experience

But they’ve got the ability and the quality… Zaheer (Khan) is a proven performer and is probably bowling at his best… Sreesanth has delivered and if R.P. (Singh) can do the job, then our new-ball attack is going to be a handful.

On ally Harbhajan Singh not being in the tour party

He’s not only an ally, but a matchwinner… He won a number of games for us when I was the captain… He’s a world-class spinner and was awesome during the 2001 home series against Australia… Given his ability, he’s bound to make a comeback soon.

On England having to do without Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison

Affects their line-up, yes, but they’ve got somebody like Monty Panesar, who has been bowling well… There’s Matthew Hoggard as well. Of course, Flintoff and Harmison will be missed.

On Flintoff

He’s a quality allrounder…

On England as an opposition

They play well at home.

On there being no full-time coach for Team India

It (the ‘experiment’) has been all right… We’ve got three people (cricket manager Chandu Borde and the two specialist coaches) to help us… We’ve got an adequate support staff…

On whether beating England in the 2002 NatWest final, at Lord’s, was his No.1 one-day achievement as captain

It was special, but making the 2003 World Cup final was very special as well.

On not being the captain on this tour of England

Now, I’ve got more time for myself… I can relax a lot more… When you’re the captain, the demand on time is huge.

On the pressure of being a leading batsman

That’s always there… Whether you’re captain or vice-captain or just an ordinary member of the team, the pressure to perform never goes away… It’s important not to lose focus — to put big runs on the board.

On having to adjust in England

Because of the movement, one has to play on the front-foot. It’s different from Australia or South Africa, where the bounce forces you on the back-foot...

On being most comfortable while touring England

That’s because we don’t have to take long flights every few days… Travelling by coach from one centre to another isn’t tiring. In any case, the journeys aren’t long. Indeed, I do like coming to this part of the world.

Finally, on having been called ‘Lord Snooty’ during his stint with Lancashire in 2000

(Laughs) I don’t think I was called that! If I was, it must have been because I don’t drink… In England, you’re expected to do so at the end of the day, whereas I would have a coke and head for the apartment to spend time with my wife. I wouldn’t mingle like the rest… It’s tough being a non-drinker in England… I probably didn’t perform the way they expected an overseas pro to, but I definitely didn’t have a problem at Lancashire.

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