Almost exactly 20 years ago, a lanky 23-year-old lad from Kolkata wearing reading glasses made his Test debut at Lord’s, London — the grandest stage in cricket —  little did we know what was in store for him. A century on Test debut was later followed by a stunning reign as the captain at a time when the fixing scandal was all the rage. 

And here is now, the President of Cricket Association of Bengal, part of the committee that is in-charge of selecting the next Indian coach. 

b’Dada has come a long way since his debut / AFP’

It’s fair to say Sourav Ganguly has a long way from that day in Lord’s. He had a lot of ups and a fair few downs in his career. And nothing could possibly be lower than the phase starting in 2005 when Greg Chappell took over as India’s coach.

Entrusted with the responsibility of picking India’s next chief coach, Dada said that he will not “mess up” as he did once when he recommended former Australian captain Greg Chappell’s name in 2005.

Ganguly and Chappell shared a frosty relationship during two turbulent years in Indian cricket, a time when one of India’s celebrated captains was removed from the top job.

Ganguly said during the launch of his book ‘A Century Is Not Enough’:

I once had an opportunity to select the coach. I thought I messed it up in 2005 (during Chappell’s recruitment). I have been given that opportunity again. I had taken an interview (of Chappell) once and it did not go off well.

Ganguly hoped that the Sachin-Sourav-Laxman axis that is the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) will do it correctly.

Hopefully, we will do it correctly this time, whoever it is… Luckily, I’ve got support in Sachin, VVS, the BCCI secretary (Ajay Shirke) and the president (Anurag Thakur). Together, we will pick the right person

But did Ganguly ever think of being the coach himself? 

“To be honest, two and half years ago, I was thinking myself whether I would want this job. Now today, I’m selecting one. That’s how life is. I have not given interview, hopefully I will give (the interview) one day…”

“In life nothing is guaranteed, nobody knows what will happen one or two years later. Nobody thought I would be President of CAB and hosting a World Twenty20 final. That’s how life is, and you have to deal it.”

The former skipper said that he spent a sleepless night on Monday on the eve of coach’s interview, somewhat similar to the feeling before his Test debut against England at the Lord’s in 1996.

“Yesterday night, I was not getting sleep when everyone was sleeping. I saw it (his hundred at the Lord’s) on YouTube — a 12-minute video — and I fell asleep after that. I felt happy.”
“I am a normal human being, who wanted to do well in a profession, which I loved the most. That afternoon (at the Lord’s) made me believe if I work hard, I’ve got it in me to play for next 10 years.
“When I got my first Test hundred at the Lord’s, I still remember the press conference. The first question was, ‘you answered your critics, what do you have to tell about that?’ But the first thing that came to my mind is that I belonged at this level.”

With PTI inputs