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March 9, 2000


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The Rediff Cricket Interview/ Sourav Ganguly

'When you pick a player, give him five Tests, five one-dayers, before you close the chapter'

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Sourav's Career Graph

PART I: 'The way we played in the last three months, we can only get better'

Sourav, but you say that it important as a team, but people say that India is a team of individual performers? How would you counter that question?

Sourav Ganguly You agree that we have individual performers. But I have always felt that not one single person can win for you. Like the game against Pakistan. I scored 141 and Sachin scored 45. It is not that everybody will score a 100. Then the score will go to 1000. That game I scored 141, Sachin scored 45, and Rahul scored 30-odd. Kumble got 4 wickets. Srinath got 2 wickets; they all did their bit. See, out of that, one will do an outstanding thing. That is the team effort.

We have this very bad habit of saying that we won the match because Ganguly played well; we won this because Ganguly has taken wickets, Sachin has scored a 100, Rahul has scored a 100, Ajay has scored a 100 or Azhar has scored a 100 or Srinath has taken 5 wickets or Kumble has taken 5 wickets. But we tend to forget that small bits -- that Mongia might have taken a blinder, like that game against Pakistan in the World Cup; what a catch he took of Azhar Mahmood. We tend to forget the small bits.

We donít give enough importance to those small bits. See Mohanty bowled 10 overs for 30 in that game. Although he did not pick wickets, he bowled 10 overs for 30, which is as good as taking 2-3 wickets. We have this tendency in India not to value even those 10 important runs at the required rate. We tend to overlook that, and we say: "Arrey ye to sau kiya, aur ye dus kiya." You donít see that those 10 runs have come in what situation. He must have played 2 balls and scored 10 runs. That might have made a difference in the end. We talk about team effort, look at the South Africans. In first Test at Wankhede, do you remember anybody taking 5 wickets? Pollock took two, Donald took two, Kallis took one, Eksteen took one and Klusener took one. So they have ten wickets. And enough importance is given to two-two wickets.

We need to give importance to Robin Singh -- who scores 25 runs in say 20 balls when he comes in 45th over. You donít expect him to score a 100. Those 25 in 20 balls is very important. But we donít give it importance because it doesnít look big. I might have scored 100 in the beginning, but people tend to forget those 25 of 20 balls, which is I think equally important at that stage of the game.

Donít you think that the players' mindset -- the new players who come into the team -- they are playing one innings thinking whether they are going to play the next innings or not. Don't you think something should be done about that?

Sourav Ganguly I think I have spoken to the selectors and put this word across; that this should be our policy; that we should pick up somebody. Like I insisted on picking Kaif for the one-dayers. Maybe just for two Test match innings he looked well. Very hardly you will get two players in 20 years who will come and score a 100 on Test debut. That is exceptional, you canít have it. A player like Sachin. He scored his first Test hundred in nine Tests. Then he went on to be the world's best. So you canít expect everybody to come and score a 100 in his first Test or first one-dayer. If he is talented and if you feel he has got the ability -- because ability you can make out, you can make out even if he makes a 20 -- you have to back him. And I have passed this message on to them.

Does this gel out of your past?

Sourav Ganguly Absolutely. I have gone through it and I donít want any cricketer to go through it; because I think after the last Test match I wouldnít have scored runs. I wouldnít have played for India ever. Four years later I am leading the side. That should be the yardstick for everybody. I would give him five games; donít pick him for two years. He is scoring 1,000 runs in the Ranji Trophy, let him play for one more season. When you pick a player, give him five Tests, five one-dayers before you close the chapter. Donít pick him for one game, drop him for two series, he is getting back for one game. Again he doesnít perform you drop him. Thatís not fair and that doesnít help, and it never helps him to get the best.

Take me through that whole phase right since '91-92 when you played that one-dayer against the West Indies, and after that you didnít play?

Yes, I just played only one game. I came out to bat at No 6. India were 18/4. I got out. Obviously, I am expected to score runs at that stage, and I accept that I got out. But then I was told that I was not good enough. And I hadnít played anything after that, and I came back and played my first Test match and scored a 100.

How did you see yourself going from here?

I was young, I was 18 years old. I think that was the best thing for me. Because if I had been 25 at that stage, then it would have been tough for me to come back. I was 18 and I just played two years of Ranji Trophy and was enjoying playing for Bengal. I think that kept me going.

Sir, Mike Brearly has said in his book that a good captain is one who at times takes an unpopular line of action? Are you also going to subscribe to that or ... .

See, I have led on my instincts. Whatever little bit I have led India, it has been on my instincts. What I have particularly felt at that time I have done and I will stick to that. It might work someday and someday it might not. But as long as the percentage of success is more it is good for me.

PART III: 'I firmly believe that to do well in your cricket life, your married life has to be good'


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