Nasser Hussain, speaking on the Star Sports Cricket Connected Show, hailed Sourav Ganguly for his indelible impact in moulding India into a “tougher side”, recalling how he “hated” Ganguly, the captain, during his playing career.
Hussain, who captained England in both Tests and ODIs between 1997 and 2003 – a good part of which coincided with Ganguly’s stint as skipper – revealed how he wasn’t a fan of his Indian counterpart’s lack of punctuality at the coin toss.
“When I played against Sourav, I hated him,” Hussain said, “he used to make me wait for the toss every single time and I’ll be like, Ganguly, it’s 10.30, we have to toss, you know. But now I work with him for the last decade on commentary, he’s such a nice, calm [man]; he’s still late for his commentary stints, but he is a lovely bloke. And that’s the way cricketers should be. When you play with him or against him, you don’t like him and when you meet up with him later in life, they’re nice people.”
Ganguly’s stocks as captain rose exponentially after their historic win in the 2002 NatWest series, beating England by two wickets in the final, a triumph that became the cornerstone for India’s subsequent success as a white-ball team. Hussain, who was the England captain when India clinched victory at Lord’s, admitted that Ganguly’s leadership style helped bring about a feisty trait in the Indian team.
“I have always said, and this is a generalisation, but I have always said about Ganguly, that he made India a tougher side,” Hussain said.
“Before Ganguly, they [India] were a very talented side, but you felt they were also a nice side – very down to earth, would meet you with morning, [greet] ‘Morning Nasser’, it was a very pleasant experience. Playing against a Ganguly side, you knew you were in a battle, you knew that Ganguly understood the passion of Indian cricket fans and it wasn’t just a game of cricket. It was more important than a game of cricket.
“He was feisty and he picked feisty cricketers whether it would be Harbhajan [Singh] or Yuvraj [Singh] or whoever – feisty in-your-face cricketers – that when you met him away from the game, were lovely, nice. Sourav’s like that.”