Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar, writing on his fortnightly Mid-day column, questioned Nasser Hussain‘s recent comments on the Indian team on a chat show, where he praised Sourav Ganguly for turning India into a “tougher side”.
Hussain, speaking on Star Sports’ Cricket Connected show earlier this week, heaped praise on Ganguly’s inspiring leadership, which, according to the former England captain, turned India into “a tougher side,” as compared to the previous sides who were “very down to earth”.
Gavaskar slammed Hussain for having the perception that teams in the past were weak just because they were nice, taking examples of some of India’s finest players from the past who dominated the game without any “chest-thumping” and “swearing”.
“Nasser [ Hussain ] went on to say that earlier,” Gavaskar wrote, “the team would be wishing the opposition good morning and smiling at them etc. See this perception: That if you are nice then you are weak. That unless you are in the face of the opposition, you are not tough.
“Is he suggesting that Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh to name just a few were not tough? That just because they went about their business without any chest-thumping, swearing, screaming and pumping their arms in obscene gestures, they were weak?”
Ganguly, who took over as captain in the wake of the match-fixing saga in 1999/2000, led the side in 49 Tests and 146 ODIs until 2005, securing his legacy as one of India’s most influential skippers. Gavaskar, however, noted that previous Indian teams also challenged some of the best sides in the Seventies in Eighties, and calling them not tough is “nonsense”.
“And what does he know of the toughness of the teams in the Seventies and Eighties,” Gavaskar wrote, “which won overseas as well as at home to make that statement? Yes, Ganguly was a top captain, taking over the reins at a most delicate time in Indian cricket, but to say that earlier teams were not tough is nonsense.”
“It’s about time the TV guys stopped using head-nodders when aspersions are cast on our cricket history and use people who will stand up and counter this bullying which actually consolidates the perception that we are too nice and therefore not tough.”