Sourav: ‘It is not an autobiography’

It is about ‘the situations in a cricketer’s life at the time of performance’, says Sourav Ganguly.

Being honest: This book is about important moments which actually defined my career, says Ganguly.

The cover of Sourav Ganguly’s book, ‘A Century Is Not Enough’ makes it clear that it is all about his roller-coaster ride to success. And the former India captain also admits that the book — co-authored by journalist Gautam Bhattacharya — is not an autobiography. Rather, it is about ‘the situations in a cricketer’s life at the time of performance’.

In an exclusive chat with Sportstar from Kolkata, Ganguly — now a cricket administrator — speaks at length on topics that have mostly remained unsaid all this while.

In your tweet recently, you mentioned that the book, ‘A Century is Not Enough’ is not an autobiography. But it talks about your life and brings out the stories from it. So, why would you not call it an autobiography?

It is not an autobiography because it just does not speak about my life. This book is about the situations in a cricketer’s life at the time of performance. That’s what I tried doing here. An autobiography will have a whole lot of things, how I started, my parents, my family and when I played the first Test — all these things. But this book is about important moments which actually defined my career. It is also about how an athlete peaks or what any performer faces during the progress of his life. These are the moments which actually test you, and how you react in such situations is very, very important. That is what I wanted to show in this book.

READ: 'Leaving out Kumble was the toughest decision as captain'

In today’s time, when the market plays a major role, how tough is it for an author who is also a celebrity to stay true or close to reality?

At this stage of our life, we don’t write a book to figure out whether it actually sells or not. If it does — it has been the number one book on pre-order in Amazon — that is not the criteria of the book. The criterion is to be honest. You read it and get an idea whether it is an honest one, whether it has been truly portrayed. I have tried doing that as far as I can.

You have demarcated your book into three segments — Climbing To The Top, Becoming A Leader and Giving Up Is Not An Option. For Sourav Ganguly, the cricketer, which of these phases was the most challenging?

Obviously, the early part — when you are trying to make a name for yourself — is always challenging. And secondly, when you are in and out of the team and performance is lacking. These are the two toughest periods of any athlete’s career. First, it is about winning the confidence of your team-mates and people who matter, and secondly, trying to uphold that confidence.

You wrote in your book, ‘Even if you failed to perform, your place in the team wouldn’t be taken away from you. You would get multiple opportunities’. Interestingly, this is something you have always endorsed as a skipper. But in these times of franchise cricket, while life is always in the fast lane, has the dynamics changed for the better or worse?

I think it has changed for the better. Yes, I would agree that there is more pressure, but I think the dynamics have changed for the better and now there are a lot more opportunities for people.

In one of the chapters, you wrote ‘Chappell ensured that it had to be Ganguly and only Ganguly’. Looking back at those turbulent times, do you feel that the then captain — also a dear friend of yours — could have acted differently and been a bit more vocal about you? Or was it that even he had very little to say in the Chappell regime?

Which captain are you talking about?

Rahul Dravid. After all, he was the India captain when you were dropped…

I think it was fine. I had interactions with him (Dravid) and I used to speak to him. I came back in six months time.

Turbulent times: Indian coach Greg Chappell with Ganguly and Rahul Dravid. Ganguly and Chappell never got along well.   -  V. V. Krishnan

 

When you played, teams like Australia and South Africa had big stars and they could win in all formats and in every possible condition. Do you think that trend has changed over the years, or has it improved?

If you look at the results these days, people find it harder to win away from home. That’s the trend. They are good sides at home, but when they go overseas, they find it hard to win. I really don’t understand the reason but they are different teams and I don’t think one should compare different eras and make a judgement on that.

With the IPL coming up, let’s talk a bit about the shortest format of the game. You joined Kolkata Knight Riders in the inaugural edition in 2008. And then, how difficult was it to adjust to the multiple captaincy theory — something that was introduced by the KKR coach, John Buchanan, in 2009. Let’s be honest, do you think that such a format can actually be of any effect today?

I feel cricket is still a captain’s game. The captain has to be the main man. The multiple captaincy theory came in as a surprise. That is something many of us did not have any clue about. I think the theory was a bit of a surprise for all of us, but then, that’s the way it is. There are a certain things you embrace and there are a certain things that you have to keep it for the first time.

Valuable player: Leaving out Anil Kumble from the first XI, was a tough decision Sourav Ganguly had to make as a skipper.   -  The Hindu Photo Library

 

In your illustrious stint as captain, what was the toughest decision?

Leaving out Anil Kumble from the first XI. He was such a great player and such a great performer, so to take the decision of leaving him out was the toughest decision.

In your playing days, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan comprised the teams in the sub-continent. Now they are joined by teams like Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Do you think that this heavy South Asian presence is good for the game?

We need good teams, and it does not matter where they come from. Whether they come from south east or north east, it does not matter. We need good teams in international cricket and that is very important. We need good, strong international teams.

Every time there is a discussion on Sourav Ganguly, the skipper, there is the talk that it was you who showed the way for Indian cricket. Now, so many years later, has Indian cricket gone in the direction that your team showed?

Yes, I think so. It has to start somewhere, and I think they are really taking it forward and are really implementing it.

You saw M. S. Dhoni lead a very young side with consistency and handling the players well. You look at Virat Kohli’s captaincy; he speaks about how to give opportunities to players. I think the culture has progressed.

Most of your team-mates rate you highly as a motivator even on overseas tours. Could you reveal how a captain should keep the team motivated on a tough overseas tour? Is it possible to keep the guys rejuvenated at a time when the team is struggling?

It is possible. That’s why you are a captain. If you are a captain, you have to find ways to motivate your team. You have to find ways to keep the boys together.

That’s what leadership is all about. Every captain is different. Dhoni has his own way, Virat has his own way. Even I had my (own) way of handling things. That’s some good job.

A Century is Not Enough

— By Sourav Ganguly (with Gautam Bhattacharya)

Juggernaut | 280 pages | Rs. 699