World Cup was deadline for return, says Ganguly
Sourav Ganguly, the former Indian captain who recently made a remarkable return to the Indian Test and one-day sides, revealed that he'd set a World Cup deadline for himself, after which he would have given up hope of playing for India. He also admitted that he'd captained the side for "too long", adding, in what was a stunning confession, that captaincy doesn't "excite" him anymore.
"I would have tried for a certain period of time," Ganguly said in a wide-ranging interview with Cricinfo Magazine when asked if he'd ever thought of quitting the game during his time away from the Indian team. "I would have tried till the World Cup. If after that it [recall] wouldn't have happened, probably I would have taken other decisions.
"I knew that the selection committee will also change in September. There were a whole lot of things involved in it. As I said, these things were not in my control. I'd just given myself a deadline that I would try till this period of time and just kept going."
Ganguly downplayed his fairytale comeback, adding that he'd batted as well as this in several phases in his career, but revealed that he'd made a few changes with his technique. "I have changed my technique, bit with my stance, bit with my initial movement. I use a slightly lighter bat compared to my earlier days."
Significantly he spoke about his change in approach towards cricket, yet maintained staunchly that he hadn't changed as a person. "I think I'm a person misunderstood by a lot of people, because of the way I interact on the field," he said. "It was the way I thought India would play the best, so I think that's happened a lot in my career. I judge myself as a person off the field, not as a person on the field. That hasn't changed. Obviously it [view towards cricket] will change. Performance is the key but I've realised that life's a lot more than just cricket. It's something I've realised over the last year or so. But as I've said nothing makes me more happy than performing."
He insisted that captaincy hadn't affected his batting but hinted that he might have given it up had he not been dropped. "Certain phases as captain I've played outstandingly, certain phases I've not played well but that is more to do with a career over a longer period of time that it's with captaincy. And it's going to happen to everyone. One must also admit that captaining India is hard and it gets harder the longer you stay as captain. But I have made useful contributions as captain. Obviously when you're not captain, things are different. I've always said captaincy is hard work.
"I'm never that sort of a person, who would give up things. I never think that way because captaining India is a huge honour. And I've played some good knocks as captain and I've always believed that I could play good knocks again. So I never thought of quitting captaincy at that stage for batting. Maybe at some stage I would have, if I would not have been dropped because I'd been captain for too long, I'd say."
Queried on how he felt when, with captain Rahul Dravid and vice-captain Sachin Tendulkar off the field, he captained the side for two overs against West Indies in Baroda, he said: "I think I knew it would be for only 4-5 overs. So I was just trying to do a job that Rahul would have done. [But] it doesn't excite me anymore."
Ganguly added that his relationship with Greg Chappell had improved over time. "A lot of things happened. But time heals everything. I've come back to the team and am performing, helping the team to win. And that's what a coach requires from a player and that's what a cricket team needs - for a player to perform and help the team winning."
The complete Sourav Ganguly interview will appear in the March issue of Cricinfo Magazine
Only a fraction of Cricinfo Magazine content is available on cricinfo.com. To subscribe to the magazine, click here.
Cricinfo Magazine is now also available as a digital download that is an exact replica of the print edition. Click here for a special introductory deal.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo