For three and a half decades, Sachin Tendulkar has seen Sourav Ganguly in various avatars – a precocious teenager, a talented Indian contender, a stylish batter, a leader and a busy administrator. But for India’s best hitter ever, the test of time has stood the test of time, their friendship still intact and solid long after they both retired from international cricket.
When the BCCI president turned 50 on Friday, his “opening partner” opened up with PTI and shared many insights into their friendship and how he looked to Ganguly as a future captain when he led India himself.
The master blaster revealed how Tendulkar envisioned before the 1999 tour of Australia, his penultimate series as captain, that he was ready to take over in case he decided to withdraw his captaincy.
“Before stepping down, during India’s tour of Australia, where I was the captain, I proposed to Sourav to become the team’s vice-captain,” Tendulkar revealed in an interview with PTI.
“I had seen him up close, played cricket with him and knew he had the right qualities to advance Indian cricket. He was a good leader, so I recommended his name.
Asking him how much freedom Ganguly gave his players during his nearly five-year tenure as skipper, Tendulkar was effusive in his praise.
“Sourav was a great captain. He knew how to strike a balance – between giving freedom to the players and giving them certain responsibilities,” Tendulkar said.
“When he took over, Indian cricket was in a transition phase. We needed the next group of players who could create a platform to propel India forward.” Tendulkar believes that Ganguly has given many world-class players wings to fly and create their own niche.
“During that time we found top players – Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Ashish Nehra to name a few. They were gifted players, but even gifted players need support at the start of their careers, what Sourav provided.
“While their roles in the team were defined, they were also given the freedom to express themselves,” he said.
“Sourav has never looked back and what he has accomplished for India is visible to all of us,” said Tendulkar, who in later years had also suggested Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s name as a future captain.
Perhaps the camaraderie off the pitch is the reason India has never had a better match in white ball cricket on the pitch. In all, the duo had 26th-century stands between them, and 21 of them came when they opened the at bat together.
“Sourav and I did our best. We wanted to play our part in what the team needed and we wanted to win matches for India.
“But we haven’t thought of anything else. We are grateful to people for considering us as a good opening couple and appreciating what we have been able to do for India,” said Tendulkar, who has always been a model of humility.
1991 debut tour and big comeback in 1996
Ganguly first played for India in 1992 and then was out in the wild until 1996, but even during that time when landlines were the only means of connection, the duo kept in touch.
“During the 1991 tour, Sourav and I shared a room. We enjoyed the time we spent together. We also knew each other from our Under-15 days, so there was a good rapport between the two of us.
“We also met a few times after the 1991 tour. At that time, unlike today, there were no cell phones – so we couldn’t keep in touch regularly. However, our friendship lasted all these years.”
They had first met at a BCCI-organized junior tournament in Kanpur and then spent a lot of time together at an annual camp in Indore, formerly led by BCCI with the late Vasu Paranjape as leader.
“We played against each other in Kanpur in a tournament before the camp in Indore. We had also gone to England to represent the Star Cricket Club under Kailash Gattani.
“But the Under-15 camp in Indore was possible when we spent so much time together and got to know each other. It was the beginning of what has become a wonderful friendship that we both share.” Tendulkar fondly recalled how he, another former Indian player and later national selector Jatin Paranjape (Vasu’s son) and another boy Kedar Godbole literally “flooded” Ganguly’s room. They poured buckets of water into the room when he was fast asleep.
“I remember Sourav sleeping in the afternoon. Jatin Paranjpe, Kedar Godbole and I filled his room with water. He woke up and of course had no idea what was going on, his bags were floating. Finally he realized that I, Jatin and Kedar who had done it.
“Friends keep making fun of each other and our childhood was no different,” he laughed.
It was even funnier and at times more adventurous on their first ever overseas trip to the UK with the Star Cricket Club.
“We stayed in schools that were like old castles and of course it looked a little scary. To make matters worse, friends got together and made plans to scare the others even more.
“Years later, when I think back, these are the moments of friendship that stand out and make me laugh.”
(This story was not edited by DailyExpertNews staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)
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