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June 19, 2006
"I'm sure at some stage they will have to look up to me, looking at my performance for the country over the last 11 or 12 years," Ganguly said shortly after arriving in England to play for Northamptonshire. Ganguly has 22 one-day-international hundreds, second only to Sachin Tendulkar.
Sacked as captain last October, his last Test was in February. Despite a solid 34 in tricky Karachi conditions, he was dropped, many felt terminally, after public rows with Indian coach Greg Chappell.
However, Ganguly insists the door is not locked. "There's still a lot cricket before the World Cup, a lot of tough cricket. People in India are very fragile. They can change decisions upon one win or one loss. Nobody's out of contention in Indian cricket because selectors' minds and the people¹s minds change very quickly.
"The captaincy was not an issue, I think I achieved everything as a captain. I'm sure it was time for someone to take over. But not being part of the team is very difficult to accept. I feel I've a lot of cricket left in me and I can contribute to the team's success. For a batsman the ages 31 to 35 are the best years." Ganguly is 33.
While insisting, "I don't think I need to prove anything internationally," Ganguly said that big scores in his month and a half in England will be noticed in India. "I need to get back to international cricket. Performances here will be noticed."
Two previous spells with county sides have been controversial. In 2000 he grated with some Lancashire team-mates. "He turned up as if he was royalty," recalled Andrew Flintoff. "It was like having Prince Charles on your side."
A quieter spell last season with Glamorgan where he averaged 62 in the Championship still featured a controversially sleepy 36 in the Twenty20 Cup, as his side failed to chase 206. "It took me a bit of time to get used to it," admitted Ganguly about the 20-over game. However, a senior figure at Northamptonshire praised him as "delightful".
Ganguly will play as an allrounder, with the aim of opening another route into the Indian side. "Most definitely [he'll bowl], both in the Championship and the one-day stuff," said director of cricket, Kepler Wessels.