We have seen better teams, says Ganguly
Ashish Shukla - 4 October 2001
Sourav Ganguly in power glasses came down through the West Gate
entrance of the Wanderers on a lovely Tuesday afternoon. It was a kind
of day where sun, shade and breeze were in such perfect harmony that
you felt even a person in coma would be stirred.
The last few days had been spent in gleaning inside information about
the South Africans. Ganguly, of course, has his own opinion about
Shaun Pollock and his men and, as is to be expected from him, he is at
times dismissive of them.
Ganguly can't see the Proteas scorching the turf consistently without
'White Lightning' Allan Donald. Mfunenko Ngam, of course, has been in
the news a great deal and Ganguly is certain that the South Africa
will let the 'Eastern Express' loose on them in at least one Test,
possibly the last one at Centurion. But as far as the Prince of
Kolkata is concerned, it is Donald and Donald alone who is the main
"I remember him in Nairobi (the ICC mini World Cup) last year and he
was the same Donald I have known all these years - lovely variations
and pacey as ever," says Ganguly in a voice full of admiration. The
mention of Roger Telemachus' name also catches his attention. But not
those of Shaun Pollock and Jacques Kallis!
"I also feel they are a bit light in the batting," says Ganguly as
plucks a few tufts of grass here and there while collecting his
thoughts. "I have seen Neil McKenzie and he is not the kind of batsman
you would back against spinners."
Far away in the middle of Wanderers, an imposing coliseum made up of
tiers and more tiers, the rest of the Indians are practicing their
throws, after having been broken down into two divisions facing each
Ganguly is with another Sourav, a certain Sourav Chakravorty, who
once played with him on the maidans of Kolkata and is now based
in Johannesburg. "He was my captain at club and he is now the captain
of the Indian team," gushes Sourav the pretender, as captain Ganguly
Ganguly thinks the present South African team is not a patch on the
Australians. "They (the Australians) have four fast bowlers and all of
them are match-winners," says Ganguly, while comparing the South
Africans with the likes of Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Brett Lee
and Shane Warne. Perhaps it is running the names those big names over
in his mind that throws up the next statement. "Australia is in a
class of its own in world cricket at the moment," he states with a
finality that is hard to dispute.
He is surprised to know the South Africans are playing six back-to-
back Tests against Australia, three away and three at home, after
seeing off the Indians and wonders how the Proteas would cope with the
strain of it all. "They (the Aussies) play with a rare intensity,"
states Ganguly. "There is no letting up, they just squeeze out of all
Ganguly, interestingly, has the highest average among international
batsmen who have played against South Africa in one-dayers. He is also
among a handful of batsmen who have two one-day hundreds against the
Proteas. "And I missed two, including an unbeaten 97 in the World Cup
opener at Hove," Ganguly reminds gently.
Incidentally, Ganguly's 141 at Nagpur during the now infamous home
2000 one-day series is the highest by an Indian batsman against South
Africa. The score is put in the right perspective when one remembers
that no international batsman has crossed 150 against South Africa in
a one-day international.
The Indian skipper feels that himself and the rest of the batsmen can
handle everything the South Africans throw at them. But, Ganguly adds,
it would have been helpful if Hemang Badani could also have come
along. The skipper feels sorry for the classy Badani, who sadly ran
into a terrible patch in Sri Lanka. One could see he is still willing
to back him. After all, a certain Sourav Chandidas Ganguly went
through a similar ordeal by fire when he started his international
career in 1991.
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