Former India captain and BCCI president Sourav Ganguly spoke about Bengal’s performances and its missing ‘luck factor’ in Ranji Trophy over the years, during the East Sports Conclave 2023, hosted by Sportstar on Monday in Kolkata.
Since its inception, Bengal has tasted success twice in Ranji Trophy and has been the runners-up for a staggering 12 times, including a couple of seasons, 1993-94 and 2004-05, when Ganguly was with the side.
“I think they need a bit of luck. I was fortunate enough that I played in 89’ and won it for the first year. I’ve got into positions where we (Bengal) could have won the trophy, I think I played in the 92’ final, 94’ I played a final and I think 2005 I played a final and we lost,” said Ganguly in a session with Sportstar’s editor Ayon Sengupta.
Ganguly drew a parallel between his time with the Indian side, when India went on to lose against Australia in the 2003 World Cup final, and Bengal’s 33-year trophy drought in Ranji.
“I think three years ago also they played a final against Saurashtra and lost. So they’ve come close and hopefully, someday they will get past. I think they have too much of a Ganguly influence. I’ve played three World Cup finals and lost all three. I think that’s the problem with Bengal. But jokes apart I hope someday they can get past that barrier.” he said.
Touching upon Bengal’s active scouting and nurturing young talents, Ganguly said: “Back in the 80s when Prashant Vaidya, Arun Lal, Chetan Sharma and Ashok Malhotra came in, they were big names already. But when (Mohammed) Shami and Mukesh Kumar came in, they were nobody. Bengal got them when they were very young. You actually have to credit Bengal and CAB for nurturing young talents.”
In the 36 matches he has played for Bengal, Mukesh has become one of the pivotal figures in its bowling setup, having picked 138 wickets at 21.30. “Mukesh, when he came to Bengal, he was from a very ordinary family. He was a young boy who wanted to play the game and did not know what to do. So Bengal has helped him to become what he is today.” Ganguly added.
The Conclave was held in association with Hero We Care - a Hero Motocorp CSR Initiative, Indian Oil, Shiv-Naresh, Rau’s IAS Study Circle, Pinnacle Infotech, Maithan Alloys Ltd, Merlin Group, SRMB, Techno India Group’s Sister Nivedita University, Indian Bank and Meghbela Broadband.