India’s leg-spinner Anil Kumble was nearly dropped for the famous tour to Australia in 2003-04, but it was captain Sourav Ganguly who fought with selectors till late night to take Kumble on board.
Ganguly’s decision proved right as Kumble ended the series with 24 wicket haul that helped India famously drew the series 1-1. The series helped Sourav Ganguly to earn the fame as the most successful Indian captain on foreign soil.
Selectors were keen to pick Murali Kartik for the Down Under series, Ganguly revealed in Kolkata.
“The selectors were picking Kartik saying ‘Kumble doesn’t pick wickets outside India’. But I was hell bent and said I won’t go without Kumble as the meeting went on till 2’o clock in the night,” Ganguly recollected the incident.
“Selectors told me if Kumble doesn’t take wickets and team doesn’t do well, ‘we’ll have a new captain’. We had the best ever Australian trip in the history. Kumble finished that season as the highest wicket-taker on the ICC calendar,” Ganguly said.
Ganguly while addressing the audience of “Transforming setbacks into comebacks’ during INFOCOM 2015, organised by Information and Communication Technology conference, recollected the incident.
Ganguly said one of the biggest character for a leader is creating trust among his players while talking about Kumble incident.
“He (Kumble) was a champion and was going through a phase when he was not taking wickets. That was a part of setbacks. That time you don’t ask him to leave but give him that extra yards. That’s how you create trust.
‘Find me a way to sleep’
The former Indian captain also said he almost quit the game when his fight with coach Greg Chappell ended with his eviction from the team in 2006, but he never gave up as he did not want to regret it later. Ganguly made a historic comeback a year later against West Indies in Nagpur.
“It was one of the biggest setbacks after being left out because of my coach (Greg) Chappell. It happened after getting a hundred in Zimbabwe. But that was one part of my life which changed me as a person. If you keep trying hard, you’ll come out of it.
“I came back to score my first ever double hundred (against Pakistan), I also got my first ever Test hundred at (my home ground) the Eden. So it’s about being passionate about what you do and love your job.”
Ganguly also recalled his 98 run innings against West Indies on his ODI comeback in January 2007.
“After coming back from a six months’ layoff, I was very nervous on the eve of the Nagpur ODI. I could not sleep. I was so angry and at 3 am I called the reception to ‘find me a way to sleep’… I was so nervous and desperate to do well. I didn’t get one minute of sleep till 6 am and we left for the ground at 6.45am being a day match.
“The first ball I got hit on the elbow, but I went on to get a 98 before being run out. This is the pressure we go through in life,” Ganguly said recalling their 14-run win over the Windies on January 21, 2007, match at the VCA ground, Nagpur.