Sourav Ganguly: Indian cricket is like football in Brazil

Addressing a special webinar on Saturday, organised by UnAcademy, Ganguly said that there has been a steady supply of talent in Indian cricket.

Sourav Ganguly feels that as a leader, one needs to back the players.   -  PTI Photo

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) chief Sourav Ganguly believes that with some real talented players around, Indian cricket will continue to dominate the world.

Addressing a special webinar on Saturday, organised by UnAcademy, the former India captain admitted that there has been a steady supply of talents in Indian cricket and that’s one of the reasons behind the team’s success.

Over the generations, there have been superstars from Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev to Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. And now, Ganguly feels that the team is in safe hands.

“When Tendulkar finished, Dravid finished, the great Virat Kohli came. India will always produce champion players and this team will always be strong,” Ganguly said. “It’s like football in Brazil. You don’t know where talent comes from, but it comes…”

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“On a Saturday or Sunday, if you go to Bombay, Bangalore, Calcutta or Delhi, you will see those young kids travelling in cars or their parents’ scooters — all going to the field to play cricket. The passion for the sport among boys and girls make the sport so safe and so secured,” Ganguly said, adding: “We will always be a good team. We will always remain a strong cricketing country and we will continue to dominate world cricket…”

Talking about his playing days, Ganguly also revealed an incident when the national selectors did not want Anil Kumble in the squad for India’s tour of Australia in 2003. But Ganguly backed the spinner. “In 2003, we were touring Australia and we had to sit and pick the team a few days before we picked the side. A lot of selectors felt that it was better to take a left-arm spinner to Australia, because the Australians don’t play left-arm spin very well. I knew the only player over who would be up for a long discussion in the selection meeting was Kumble.

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“I knew he was playing for his place. The selectors were clear that they didn’t want him in the side and I put my foot down and said: he has to go because I knew this could be his end. The meeting went for couple of hours. In the end, I succeeded in getting Kumble to the flight to Australia.”

Ganguly knew that if Kumble would fail to deliver, the axe would fall on him. “Before we left the country, the selectors said that if Kumble doesn’t do well and India doesn’t win, we will drop him first, before we drop anybody else. Kumble played that series, had a fantastic year. He ended that year with 75 wickets — the most he had in his career in one season,” Ganguly stated, cherishing the memories of that tour of Australia, where Kumble proved to be effective.

“As a leader there will be times, when you would take easier options. Because when you play for a long period of time, everybody’s career will not be the same — there will be highs, there will be lows. But I have believed, class is permanent and form is temporary. I knew the great Kumble had a little blip in his career and if you did not stand by him, we would lose one of the greatest of all times. He came out and went on to become a champion and even captained India after that. Everyone knows his record in international cricket,” Ganguly said, making it clear that as a leader it is important to back the players.

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