'It gets tougher with age. It got tougher for Sachin, it got tougher for me, it will get tougher for Virat Kohli.'
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly on Friday backed current skipper Virat Kohli on the issue of cramped scheduling and said that the team needs more time to prepare for tough assignments like the upcoming tour of South Africa.
Kohli complained on Thursday that cramped schedules are getting in the way of proper preparation for a big series such as the upcoming tour to South Africa, a criticism that the Board of Control for Cricket in India promised to address with 'utmost seriousness'.
Echoing Kohli's concerns, Ganguly said, "He was talking about scheduling of cricket which is so correct. You got to give teams time to prepare when they go to South Africa."
Ganguly also lavished praise on Kohli who notched up his 50th international century during the first Test against Sri Lanka in Kolkata.
He said Kohli can challenge Sachin Tendulkar's 49 ODI hundreds but the challenge would be to match the Little Master's 51 hundreds in Test cricket.
"Virat will get very close to Sachin's ODI hundreds which is 49. He is already 32. He will get close to that. He has got to stay fit. When I was playing, from 1996-2003, I had 22 ODI hundreds in seven years," Ganguly said.
"I see that with Kohli as well. He has got 30 odd in about nine years. It gets tougher with age. It got tougher for Sachin, it got tougher for me, it will get tougher for Virat Kohli," said Ganguly, who has 22 centuries in 311 ODIs and 16 Test tons in 113 games.
"He (Kohli) plays a lot of cricket. I personally feel he will get there to 50 one-day hundreds with the amount of ODIs that are played. The challenge will be in Test matches to get that far. It's a terrific feeling to have seen Sachin and now you are seeing this boy," Ganguly added.
Asked to compare Tendulkar and Kohli, Ganguly said they are from different generations. He said Kohli is more expressive and proactive as captain than Tendulkar.
"It's not right to compare because these are two cricketers who are from two different generations. I have seen Tendulkar very very closely. An unbelievable cricketer. Some of the runs he has got, match-winning innings he has played is fantastic.
"Kohli, a hundred a couple of days ago at Eden Gardens on that pitch, and you could see his expression when he finished. He is a lot more expressive than Tendulkar. He is a lot more proactive than Tendulkar as captain. Tendulkar was different, maybe the generation was different," he said.
Ganguly said he is like an average Bengali man at home but he had to change the attitude of the team when he led because some of the players needed to be pushed to develop an aggressive Indian side.
"I am a very quiet person off the field, very laidback like a lot of Bengalis. When I became captain, I realised we had to do something different. As Indians, we were very laidback. (Virender) Sehwag was a fantastic talent but off the field, you would find him asleep and you had to push him. I had to get that atmosphere. It was a strategy to get the team going," Ganguly said.
Ganguly is best remembered for his aggressive captaincy, his success against Australia and that iconic moment when he was seen waiving his shirt at the Lord's balcony.
There could be mixed reactions to that episode more than 15 years later but one person who is convinced it was a fine act happens to be Ganguly's wife, Dona.
"It was a fantastic gesture," said Dona at the event.
However, Ganguly, now a cricket administrator, said he would never do something similar again.
"I would never do it now. Every time they would show that footage (on a sports channel), I called the producer and told him I have 20,000 international runs and several hundreds but he said that is what he want to show," the 45-year-old said.
"It (the shirt-waving) was a lot more out of satisfaction. Do not forget the name on the honour's board (for his hundred on Test debut at Lord's). That will remain a lot more special."
The world knows Ganguly's class as a batsman and his abilities as a leader but how is the great man like at home?
There could be nobody better than Dona, his wife, to shed some light on the left-hander.
"He is Sourav at home. He takes control but in a nice, subtle way. He does control the house. He is very busy but when he is there, we respect him and do only what he wants," Dona said.
Ganguly on whether Kohli can break Tendulkar's century record