Ganguly believes India’s bowlers are the key to securing more victories overseas
Even though there has been a lot of ongoing speculation about the diminishing stock of Indian bowlers, former skipper Sourav Ganguly has admitted that he has no worries for the future of Indian cricket.
Ganguly stated that he had seen many Indian bowlers come and go, and that the only way to ensure that they stay strong and healthy was through proper fitness and conditioning, which in his opinion is something a majority of the Indian bowlers are missing.
“Since 2000 the main reason for having overseas coaches and trainers in India was to get a proper fitness culture, I remember on the 1996 tour of England, I went to the gym only once – that too, to see it and not to use it. It was a three-month tour and I had an outstanding tour. But I could not remember going to the gym and getting onto the treadmill. That culture needed to change. You don’t get a Kapil Dev all the time,” Ganguly said.
“There is so much cricket being played in the modern day. Players are on the road all the time. Fast bowling is a difficult art. Every Indian fast bowler of the modern era needs to have a personal trainer. Finances are not a problem. They can afford it. They should have a personal trainer with them right through the year. When you go to a gym alone, at times, you take the easier, safer option. There should be someone with you looking after your strength and monitoring it all the time. When you see Zaheer Khan in 2000 and Munaf Patel in 2004 they clocked almost 150 [kph], but two years down the line, they settled down to line and length bowling, which I think is mainly because of a lack of physical strength,” he added.
When asked about whether the Indian domestic leagues were producing enough high-quality spinners, Ganguly said: “When I saw Ashwin and [Pragyan] Ojha bowl in the Test matches against New Zealand, although they will have some distance to go as we have England and Australia coming, I don’t feel the cupboard is empty. The problem is we Indians in domestic cricket are such good players of spin that a very good spinner is sometimes made to look average in those conditions and with players who have been brought up on spin bowling. Everytime those players graduate and play Test cricket, they look different bowlers.”
However, the former captain noted that one thing all of the Indian spinners had to improve on was their bowling in overseas conditions.
“When you see the team lose eight out of eight [overseas] Tests the time has probably come when a lot of these young spinners need to bowl on flatter and non-responsive wickets in India to learn the art of bowling overseas,” he said.
Reflecting on his career, Ganguly reminisced about how the Indian team were treated with disrespect in the past.
“When I first played in 1996 on the tour of England, I could see a different attitude towards Indian players. We were not the best travellers abroad. You could see a certain disrespect when you went to England, Australia and South Africa. ‘These boys are soft, they will come to this part of the world, you will see a hundred from Sachin, from Dravid, but they’ll lose. They might draw a Test, but we will win the series.’ I could make out that when you walked around the dressing room, the confidence was not there, the knowledge was not there of how we could beat England in England, and Australia in Australia,” Ganguly added.
Talking about India’s famous win at Kolkata against the Australians in 2011, Ganguly stated that in was at this point in time where the Indian team realised that they could beat any of the top teams in the world, and that they should be proud of the all-round range of players they had.
“I was also blessed as captain to have an era of terrific Test players – Sachin, Dravid, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Anil Kumble… because I am a firm believer of a captain being only as good as his team. You can take the best captain in the world but if you don’t have a good team, then you will go nowhere. A perfect example is Ricky Ponting. You look at his record when Hayden, Gilchrist, McGrath and Warne were playing and once they retired. Like chalk and cheese. It was a conscious effort to get that culture in the team. ‘Listen, we will win in India’. There have been Tests where I have stood at point, given the ball to Anil and Harbhajan, they would set the fields and we would win the match – that would not happen abroad. We didn’t have the batting, the knowledge, the batting toughness to put 500 runs on the board, to win a Test when we went abroad,” he said.
Despite India’s horrendous record overseas, Ganguly noted that the current Indian side had the capability of becoming the top ranked team once again.
“When I see players of the ability of Kohli, Pujara and Dhoni and some of the other young names, it makes me believe that Indian cricket is in safe hands,” he added.