Thursday, October 13, 2011

A forgotten letter from Ganguly


                      ** The Royal Residence of His Ganguliness, the Prince of Calcutta **


Dear Suresh Raina,

It seems to me that you , though highly talented, have got your priorities mixed up. A few days ago, I heard from Duncan Fletcher that you have been working extremely hard on playing the short ball because you want to excel at Test Cricket. This is a phase that I myself went through which led to my humiliation at the hands of Laxmipathy Balaji and a couple of old Australians
. After this nadir, I decided to reflect. And now, eight years later I am in a position to advise.
In my inimitable style, I shall begin by calling a spade a spade and telling you that on air, Nasser Hussain called you a short ball donkey.
A cursory glance at the statement does not indicate much danger. After all, Nasser Hussain has used the D word before. Furthermore, IPL owners seldom watch Sky Sports (where Hussain commentates). And , let’s be honest about it,  they are the ones that matter these days , when international tours have become a gamble - with  bowlers  being permitted to bowl over 140 kph and groundsmen being allowed to grow grass on the pitch.


Let us, however, examine the identity of the man who has made the statement. Former 'English' captain, Nasser Hussain. Note my inverted commas please. For how indeed can an Englishman be named such? I have discussed the matter with Ravi Shastri and we agree that the jealous ECB have conspired to name their English captain with a subcontinent name. The mind games had already started when Hussain made his debut, not merely before this series as has been suggested by Sunil Gavaskar.

This ECB employee is is dangerous and will stop at nothing; he has now made disparaging remarks about the three most exciting Indian left-handers of the last decade: Myself, Yuvraj, and you.
In 2001/02, Nasser Hussain’s England and I were locked in a confrontation which was to cause me severe distress. I had a dream once: Nasser Hussain was entering Kolkata and was immediately greeted by a crowd of my subjects screaming "Nasser, go back". So far, so good. But then, all of a sudden, he turned into a bare-chested, cricket ball tossing Andrew Flintoff. The proud Calcuttans were replaced by nasty old men in suits and hats. And I was suddenly in the middle of Headingley stadium, frozen, as Flintoff rushed in towards me. He bowled a bouncer and then… then I woke up.

Variants of this dream occurred for months - all of them had two things in common: Nasser Hussain, and Andrew Flintoff without his shirt.
My rivalry with the English and an innate, unnecessary complex about the short ball were at the root of this. I soon got my revenge though, and it has gone down in the annals of Natwest Trophy history. After I had done my singularly unique act of imitation, tiresome Englishmen did not enter my dreams any more. I was able to sleep comfortably and I felt more secure about my status as the captain that ushered in a New, Aggressive and Fearless India.

Why have I told you this? So that you may listen, and learn. You are a bright young star and you too have a problem with the short ball. Remember not to waste your time trying to correct it - it is already too late and simply not worth the effort. The point, my boy, is believe in yourself. Be fiery. Do not hesitate to make a display. Play to your strengths. Which is clearly IPL cricket and limited overs matches in the subcontinent.

Which brings me to my final point. You may hear Me, in my commentary, regularly referring to how you should be tackling the short ball and how you should prepare properly for Test matches. Take it with a pinch of salt. What I really have to communicate to you, I have done so in this letter. Retire from overseas cricket, Suresh. You have a long and fruitful career record ahead of you. Don't ruin it.

Your Prince, philosopher and guide,
Sourav Ganguly

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