Rahul Dravid succeeded Sourav Ganguly as the captain (Image courtesy: AFP)
Rahul Dravid succeeded Sourav Ganguly as the captain (Image courtesy: AFP)

Sourav Ganguly is arguably India’s greatest captains and the finest left-handed batsman. The turn of the century saw Ganguly at his prime when the captaincy cloak fell upon. Ganguly suffered a slump in 2005 and then a spat with the then coach Greg Chappell paved his exit from the team and he lost his captaincy.

“Losing the (India) captaincy (in 2005) came like a bolt from the blue. You are hurt but you can’t show it because you have to put that behind you and make a comeback. That was a huge learning experience because for nearly a decade, things had only gone up for me. It made me tougher,” Ganguly told Hindustan Times.

It was Ganguly who helped Chappell bag the India coach’s job as the latter had helped him improve his batting in Australia during the 2003-04 tour. Ganguly admits backing Chappell was the “biggest mistake” of his career.

“Hiring him was the biggest mistake of my career. I had known a different person from a stint as my batting coach in Australia. I don’t know what led to our relationship breaking down. After the 2007 World Cup, I haven’t interacted with him,” Ganguly expresses that the relationship is beyond repair. “What happened to me shouldn’t happen to anyone. Yes, you will get dropped, but it should never get personal. Every athlete should be judged by what happens in the park.”

All well between Ganguly and Dravid

Though Rahul Dravid has never spoken a word against Chappell, there aren’t many Indian cricketers who are fond of the Australian legend. Sachin Tendulkar criticised Chappell in his autobiography Playing It My Way. Ganguly said that more will follow the suit.

Sourav Ganguly: Dad wanted me to retire after Greg Chappell dropped me from Indian side
Sourav Ganguly: Dad wanted me to retire after Greg Chappell dropped me from Indian side

“There aren’t many cricketers from Chappell’s India team who would compliment the coach, says Ganguly. “Sachin doesn’t have too many good things to say about him, does he? In future, you will find more books that say similar things about him.”

After Ganguly was sacked, it was his good friend Dravid who took the charge as captain and formed a good working relation with Chappell. Ganguly insists nothing changed between him and Dravid. In fact, Ganguly never asked Dravid on why he was treated the way he was.

“Having been a captain, I understand things could get sensitive. So I let it be.”

Busier than ever

Ganguly is busier than ever, perhaps even busier than his playing days. He remains one of the most popular cricket faces and endorses 12 products, he does corporate talks on leaderships and hosts one of the most popular television shows — Dadagiri. Is that it? He is the president of Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) and a part of three BCCI committees and also a part of MCC’s working committee.

He has just penned an autobiography, A Century Is Not Enough.

“I stopped playing cricket but got into many things. Financially things are still as good (as when he was a player) if not better,” he says.

Ganguly calls losing the 2003 World Cup final as his biggest disappointment as he felt ‘the chance is gone’. He recalls his Test debut, in June 1996, where he slammed a fine 131, as his best moment.

He defines himself as a natural captain and here’s what he has immense praises for leader, who were his contemporaries and with whom he shared famous on-field battles.

“I think Nasser (Hussain) was brilliant. Steve (Waugh) too was a remarkable cricketer and a fantastic cricketer. Sachin was very intense, tried very hard. My best days as a player came under Sachin. Rahul (Dravid) was very organised and Anil (Kumble) was natural,” said Ganguly before adding Hussain and Waugh are good friends with him.