Sachin Tendulkar's close friend and West Indian legend Brian Lara along with former India captain Sourav Ganguly talk to NDTV's Prannoy Roy in Kolkata in a free-wheeling chat about cricket and the Master Blaster's 200th Test. (Catch the highlights from the discussion here)
Here is the full transcript of the discussion.
Dr Prannoy Roy: Hello and welcome. There are times in your career when you are so thankful that you are a journalist and this is one of those moments. This is such an important occasion for me. First of all, never before, have I been on the same stage as two princes. Never before have I been in the midst legendary faces of the Cricket Association of Bengal, CAB, Mr Jagmohan Dalmiya and all these familiar faces over the years and also in my city, Kolkata. It is just wonderful to be here. And the two princes: the Prince of the Port of Spain, and Prince of Kolkata. Two Princes. Royal blood. Has he got royal blood? Well you certainly have royal strokes, the best, most beautiful two left-handers, most beautiful cover drives, most beautiful stroke players in the world. Both of you used to walk on water. They said when Sourav bats he walks on water when you played your cover drive, isn't that what they said? (Watch full interview here)
Sourav Ganguly: They said when Brian bats he walks on the sky though. He is so good. (Read: If I were Tendulkar, I would have quit a year ago, says Sourav Ganguly)
Dr Roy: Now the first thing I have to ask both of you. You scored two hundred, you scored three hundred, you scored 375 and held a record, then Hayden broke it by 5 runs and you came back and scored 400. I mean that's being a bit greedy, isn't it? What motivated you?
Brian Lara: I am sure none of those were planned and not those two. I am sure Mathew Hayden, when he went out to bat against Zimbabwe I think it was, these things are more destiny than anything else. I remember waking up in Jamaica, by my manager in London, who got the number from Mathew Hayden in Australia, it was about 2'o clock in the morning in Jamaica and I gave him a call. And I felt pretty relieved. I told that I had a lot to achieve in cricket still and that those two records seems, over the years that I have played since then, sort of kept me back a little bit. (Read: India will never produce another Sachin Tendulkar: Brian Lara to NDTV)
Dr Roy: They made you tense?
Brian Lara: Not really. I really felt that I wanted to lead the West Indies team back to some semblance of success that they had in the '70's and '80's and we are a bit tight, me personally, so I felt that this was the perfect opportunity, I didn't know what was going to happen 6 months later. England was touring and I know there was a match in Antigua but I could not put my finger on 400 at that time. (Read: Sachin Tendulkar's technique is best in the world, says Brian Lara)
Dr Roy: When he scored that 400 and you used to watch him play and you were fielding, what went through? Anger?
Sourav Ganguly: Thank God I was watching and not on the field because it is better. If you got tired you could go off to sleep because getting 400, it takes a massive amount of time, and don't forget his 500
Dr Roy: He scored a 500 in first class cricket right?
Sourav Ganguly: In county cricket, so he has been special.
Dr Roy: I think both of you have made a terrible mistake in your life, look at you two, you are bloody fit. They say today's 40s are yesterday's 30 and you retired. You retired after scored a century and a double century against Pakistan. Am I right?
Brain Lara: Correct. But there is lot more to life and I am happy that the time that I called it quits in my career I had enough energy to move on to other things. Immediately got another daughter.
Dr Roy: That actually is the most creative thing anybody could do.
Brian Lara: Yes. It has been good for me to move away. Look from beyond the boundaries at West Indies cricket and world cricket and still have the energy as you said to do other things. As I said I am still very much involved in cricket and you know as a mentor with most of the Trinidad and Tobago players and I am enjoying life and I have no regrets.
Dr Roy: So a lot of people would be telling Sachin today, that when you retire in a few days time there will be a huge gap in life and you won't know what to do. Did you feel that?
Brian Lara: Yes. Immediately you feel that way, because you have spent majority of your, youthful, life playing cricket, following the dream. I started at age 19 with the West Indies team, Sachin started at 16. He has been playing for almost quarter of a century and he is going to wake up the next day on the 19th or the 20th, I promise you he is going to want to know what to do, he is going to quickly find his feet and he is a successful man. So I believe that this is going to go on in his life.
Dr Roy: So you would say to him Sourav, yes, there will be a gap but soon it will be filled?
Sourav Ganguly: Yes, for Sachin Tendulkar without a doubt. He has got so much to contribute to the Indian cricket, to world cricket and he will find his way, because for the last few weeks I have been answering that question, what Sachin Tendulkar will do after he finishes his cricket. And as I said he has got loads of things to do. I am sure Indian cricket will use him because he has been a huge ambassador for the sport, like he has been over the years. He would need a break for a year and then his life will start moving again.
Dr Roy: I hate to say you are fitter than you were as a cricketer. When you were told to train, you didn't train and now that you are not being told, you go running 3 times a week.
Sourav Ganguly: Even in my playing I used to do exactly that. It was a perception that was created that I didn't do it.
Dr Roy: He has been fighting this perception all along.
Brian Lara: Similar with me, back home.
Dr Roy: You were not a gym fanatic?
Brian Lara: I am not a gym fanatic but I liked running. I did most of my work when the peering eyes were not watching. I had it easy. But we do a lot of work don't we?
Sourav Ganguly: Yes, absolutely!
Dr Roy: How come nobody ever saw this?
Brain Lara: It's important. You don't work out and practice for people to see. You put the work in and you get the result out in the middle.
Dr Roy: Would you say not putting that much work, you cannot get your timing right? You cannot be a great batsman?
Sourav Ganguly: You cannot. You get what you put in, same for everyone else. Some are slightly more gifted like a Sachin Tendulkar or a Brian Lara, maybe a Ricky Ponting, but for the rest ...
Dr Roy: Or a Sourav?
Sourav Ganguly: The rest are a little more hardworking. They have to get the bit the harder way. I am a part of that. But you have to put it in to get it out in the international cricket because it comes easier.
Brian Lara: Just to add to that, one of my favourite sportsmen, Michael Jordan. He said that the way he practices so hard that when he got into a match, he was on cruise control and I felt that I needed to do the same thing with my cricket. During my practice session I put myself through very tough paces. When I got into a match I felt very comfortable with myself. There were some times when I did not, I knew I had not put the work in the nets necessary for me to feel confident
Dr Roy: I will be coming to ask questions. So if you've got tough questions for these two characters, please keep them ready. Did you know, I certainly did, that you would turn out to be the best commentator there is? Did you know you would be one?
Sourav Ganguly: I didn't. I try to be one though. I did commentary because I wanted to go back to the cricket field. I was doing so many other things, which are so boring.
Dr Roy: Cutting ribbons?
Sourav Ganguly: I don't cut ribbons at all. I host a few shows.Â
Dr Roy: Dadagiri is a box office hit.
Sourav Ganguly: That, but but it is so boring in front of cameras all the time. So when you go out on the field and you watch cricket, you see somebody play a cover drive, you see a Brian Lara or a Virat Kohli, you see a Sachin Tendulkar; it brings you happiness. Happiness and money are never related. My thing of doing commentary was to watch cricket live and that gave the most satisfaction.
Dr Roy: You are frank, open, intelligent; intelligent because you are Bengali.
Sourav Ganguly: I am honest. My intentions are not to hurt anyone. But at the same time it is important to be honest. That so many people are listening and you actually want to tell what is the right thing.
Dr Roy: Any chance of commentary?
Brian Lara: Not my cup of tea. I still like traveling, work very closely with the government in tourism and sport. That is my field.Â Trying to get things going in my country, just 1.3 million people. We have our own problems. And I am trying to work very closely if we can get out a little more.
Dr Roy: 1.3 million people is like one sq km around us.
Sourav Ganguly: I got more people next to my house than the West Indies.
Dr Roy: But look at the impact that 1.3 million have had. It's amazing. Coming back to this moment of retirement, the big decision, it is your life, you both were wonderful players, wonderful ambassadors. How tough was that decision? That moment. Should it be now, will I get my form back, what went into weighing, what is going on in people's minds when even any great players of any sport retires?
Brian Lara: First of all, it is a very tough decision. You have to understand that. Because it is not a job you pick up after you leave school, get your passes. This is your most likely your dream, any cricketer, any sportsman that makes it to the top level. They start very young and there comes a time when you have to make that decision. Some have a very smooth passage. They are allowed to do exactly what they want to do. For me, I had to take into consideration West Indies cricket. We were still in the doldrums a bit, had a decline about from '95, maybe you can still say, till the second and a half days of cricket we have had. I felt that it was the right time for me to leave. The dynamics of the team, was a lot of young players, there was a big gap between myself, as the captain, and the younger players. Maybe they needed to mould a young team at that point in time. I felt physically fit. I wanted to go onto play more test cricket, maybe not one-day internationals. But I felt at that point in time it was the right decision to make. Holistically moving away from the game.
Dr Roy: Did your friends say play a little more? Conflicting advice?
Brian Lara: Today a lot of people ask me when am I going to play, they don't realize I am 44.
Dr Roy: 44, today's 44 is yesterday's 34.
Brian Lara: Looking and feeling are two different things.
Dr Roy: Today, Mohandas Menon sent me a message. Today, same day, 13 years ago, was your first match as captain and the same day in 2008 was your last match. That is an incredible coincidence. Does it bring back, do you remember those two days vividly?
Sourav Ganguly: Yes I do. I remember the day in Bangladesh, the last day in Nagpur as well. But the best part was that we finished on the winning side on both of those days. So that will always remain special in my mind. I played my last test in Nagpur, I got runs, missed a hundred by a few runs. Had a hundred in my first test. Would have been special to get a hundred in my last test. You remember those days. I remember every day of my cricketing life. I am sure he does it as well. If you ask Sachin, he must have played, as Brian said, thousand days of cricket in his life and I am sure he will remember every day of it. These things are very special. You are so attached to it. You love it so much that you don't forget it. And it is the same with all the cricketers
Dr Roy: Almost every stroke?
Sourav Ganguly: Not every stroke. If you tell me you got a hundred here and what shot did you play I will be able to tell, and I am sure he will be able to do it as well.
Dr Roy: He is saying he does not.
Sourav Ganguly: I do not believe him.
Brian Lara: 375 yes because it is always there, all the time.
Sourav Ganguly: And the 400? Can't be taking so much time.
Brian Lara: I think it was a sweep shot down to deep backward square leg.
Dr Roy: I saw it. Actually I think that was it. My memory is not that good but you played it and you are not a hundred percent sure.
Brian Lara: I don't really know every single shot I played. I think I tried to play too much. I forgot how much I played. I enjoyed batting and I have enjoyed my time playing for the West Indies cricket and it has been a treat to be, what I consider an entertainer; yes, you are sportsman, definitely you are an entertainer. When people pay money to come to see you, bat or to bowl, I think you need to put a show on.
Dr Roy: What did you like about Brian Lara?
Sourav Ganguly: Everything as I would say and I have that before that I would pay money to watch Brian Lara bat.
Dr Roy: Like in terms of his technique or what specific area did you think?
Sourav Ganguly: Everything. He would entertain you all day. I still remember the series against Muthiah Murlidharan in Sri Lanka, where he got 700 runs on pitches that were turning square. And he would use his feet and hit through the mid-wicket. I saw VVS doing it against Warne in Calcutta. Murlidharan is different, as he would tell you, he would spin a long way, he would use his feet and whack it through mid-wicket. The best story I remember about Brian Lara was in the West Indies. We were touring in 1997 and he was just next-door. We were in Antigua, in a beautiful resort, he was bang next-door and I met him once. He was very annoyed and I always watched him play, he was such a great player, being a left-hander and I got friendly with him over the years. I wanted to be friends with him, he was such a great player and I asked him, why do you look annoyed? He said my manager wants me to be disciplined. He wants me to be in the room, in the right time. Then he said, he keeps calling me, I need you here, I need you there. And I said what did you say? He said call me when you are ready and banged the phone. I laughed and laughed. He went on to score a hundred in Antigua in a day's time and he kept us fielding though. That is why I liked him even more, he played cricket on his own terms.
Dr Roy: So that was the night when the two of you went out from 12'o clock to 3'o clock in the morning, Okay. We won't talk about it. This is a family channel.
Brian Lara: And he dropped me at first slip.
Dr Roy: Did you ever drop him?
Sourav Ganguly: No I didn't. I would not play the next game if I dropped Brian Lara at the first slip before he gets a hundred.
Dr Roy: What do you feel when you do that? You see people making these mistakes at the key moments, which anybody can. Do you feel anybody can make a mistake or do you want to dig a hole in the ground and disappear?
Sourav Ganguly: You do actually, in certain circumstances you do. When it is a close game and you dropped a catch you really feel bad. But when the game is going nowhere you feel it is okay, it is fine, it is not going to alter the result. But in important situations, when you drop someone like a Lara or a Tendulkar, they will make you pay for it. It is different.
Dr Roy: It hurts.
Sourav Ganguly: Yes it does.
Dr Roy: Okay lets take some questions, there is a youngster, Megha Sen. Â Â
Audience 1: My question is for Saurav Ganguly, Sir would you blame destiny or your own deeds for being controversy's favourite child?
Sourav Ganguly: That's a tough title you have given me. You know when you are captain of a team and you make decisions, you will have to face that and when I sit back and think about my time as a captain, as a player and I see where Indian Cricket has gone, I don't worry about it. But when you are a public figure and when people talk about you, scrutinize you, as a lot of media did during that time, you had to face the reality and you just dealt with it. I have never thought about it, because when I sit back and look of my six years of captaincy, I can be happy that Indian Cricket has gone forward and that's what mattered. I was not there to make anyone happy nor anyone sad. I was there to do the job and make sure that we win, become a good team and make sure cricket goes forward.
Dr Roy: It was a golden period for Indian cricket. Your captaincy and you, I think occasionally said that he's the best captain India has ever had.
Brian Lara: Yes, I have said that and that's a fact. I think when you look at, a lot of people look at the instant, what is happening at that moment. But Sourav said it very well. Look 10 years down the line and see what has taken place and that's the legacy of anybody. Say for instance Clive Lloyd, Frank Worrell, captains in a team in the 50's and the 60's. What happened in the 70's and the 80's is the success. I think it was built on strategy during that time. So, Sourav for me and the way I saw him lead the team, I think the Indian team that he is seeing now, the discipline, the commitment, the self confidence, I think all that originated from that period of time when he had lead the team, and the main fascinating series for me would be that series in Australia where they walked away with a draw and that was an amazing series.
Dr Roy: And his record was amazing. He's been all throughout these controversies, and the West Indies cricket has also been a lot of controversies, lot of controversies and you have been pretty vocal about some of it.
Brian Lara: At the top of it.
Dr Roy: Would you say some of your decision to retire was to do with the controversies or dissatisfaction with the system, rather than just the game and your form? You were in the peak of your form
Brian Lara: I used to do it dynamically so I think that encapsulate everything you know, administratively what was going on, the different hurdles that I had to get over, it was tough. I mean it was tough for me to get over and I just felt that it was the time. It might not have been the smoothest time to leave, you know, somebody might have been pushing me from behind, but I just felt that things weren't right and I was in love like I am now with West Indies Cricket. I felt that, that was the time for me to move on, to see if West Indies would turn the corner. I don't mind being the scapegoat if it turned out that way, but I felt that I did the best that I could, during the period that I had, and I was willing just to put my feet up.
Dr Roy: What happened to West Indies cricket? I have been to Eden Garden and seen Hall and Griffiths bowl from the near the side screen, taking their run up, as a kid I have seen them. It's a sea change.
Brian Lara: Well again I believe that we have not put in the infrastructure necessary. I think we relied on the fact that we feel that the Viv Richards, Joel Garner, Wes Hall, the rest of them would turn up from no where and the rest of the world went into technology, they went into academics, we did nothing and we still have not done anything to prepare for the future. And until I see something is done, I am going to give those five or ten years when that happens. So we are just going to be a quagmire, just beating the occasional good team here and there, having a good series. Winning the T20. We are not going to put it together in a way where we are going to be consistent in all facets of the game, all the different games that we are playing today for any long period of time.
Dr Roy: So, West Indies cricket in your words is a quagmire right now?
Brian Lara: Yes, unless we make some firm decision as administrators and get you know, the grassroots level sorted out and work from that level. And I said grassroots, when you think about 10 or 11-12 year olds, you are only going to see the results in 10 years time and that is not being done. Kids are being allowed to do exactly what they want and then you are going to have the cream of the crop coming, they are always going to be stars with no help. But the guys who are mediocre, the guys who want to play there is nothing in there for them to improve their game.
Dr Roy: Sourav, if I had to say to you that Sachin is really fit, he still bowls, he fields brilliantly; everybody goes through ups and downs in their form, that he is going through a low form and he may come back. He had scored 70 runs in the Ranji Trophy match just the other day, had won the match and in this test match he was out, which hawk eye would have given him not out, right?
Sourav Ganguly: Yes, you can say that, because when you are such a great player you will score runs at some stage. But you look at when you are at your best, the innings you took to get your best performance, it came very frequently and when you get a bit older, which everyone has to accept, he is 40 years of age and the feet are as not quick as it used to be, he can still get runs with his experience but the frequency has not been not that great. As Brian said at the start of the show that last two-three years haven't been good for him and just only because he is Sachin Tendulkar, he's been given that run for three years more than anybody else in the world cricket or Indian cricket would have got in that much of time. But it's a fact you've got to accept, that at some stage you have to go. And when Sachin sits down after the Mumbai test and has a look at his career, he will say to himself that I have done proud of myself. There's nothing, which I have not achieved, and if I probably went on for another 6 months it wouldn't have helped me, or cricket. And I think that's the right decision that he has taken. For me he has been a champion and I have seen him so closely. I have seen him closely from the age of 14 years, when we went to Indore for a national camp and I have seen that man grow. He obviously played for India 4 or 5 years earlier than I did and then we came on. I have seen him go through the tough periods and I led him as captain and I have seen him progress. So for me it's a right decision he has taken, that he is going on a high playing at home, because if this wasn't South Africa, he wouldn't have got half the adulation which he has got. You know what, the Cricket Association of Bengal did for him, what Mumbai is going to do for him, he deserves every bit; you know what you guys are doing for him. I have been watching television for the last 15 days. It's just been Tendulkar all over.
Dr Roy: And he is a man beyond his cricket, he is a wonderful human being.
Sourav Ganguly: Absolutely, it's a right send off to a champion and that's how it should be. Whoever achieves in whatever aspects of life, it could be films, it could be cricket, it could be administration and he deserves that much of respect and it's a great thing to see. He wouldn't have got this much of respect in South Africa if he would have gone. He may have got runs, he may not have got runs, but its great to see him go that way and I am happy that he's gone, if I was in his place I would have gone a year earlier, but that's that way Sachin Tendulkar is, and its too much respect for him.
Dr Roy: Because what we are talking now are milliseconds. If you are a millisecond earlier or a millisecond late it makes all the difference in your stroke, and age can change in a millisecond. You don't have much room for margin of error.
Sourav Ganguly: You don't realise, you know, when you get to 39-40 or 38-40, especially in the current year, as he said. In the earlier days a lot of players have played at the age of 40, but in the modern era, where everything is happening so quickly, you don't realise the drop, and suddenly you feel it's getting past you. And when you watch him, specially when you watch him at his best, you feel that it's going past him and I think its a fantastic decision that he has taken.
Dr Roy: I am going to have both of you to stick your necks out and I am going to get back to you 5 years from now and I am going to see whether you are right or wrong. 5 years from now who could possibly come close to be a Sachin Tendulkar, not him, but close to him, 80 percent of them or which two players in the Indian team?
Brian Lara: I think that is not going to be achieved. I think that in terms of stats, you are going to have players with better stats. In future you never know. Virat Kohli in one day game I think he is exceptional, but in sports there are some individuals, it doesn't matter what era that you are in, it could be 20-30 years down the line. There are boxers with better records than Mohammed Ali, but if you mention the good boxers then you have to mention Mohammed Ali. Basketball you have to mention Michael Jordan. There might be players on the verge of breaking records that he has. When you speak about cricket, I would speak about Sachin Tendulkar.
Dr Roy: And we would all speak about Lara. Any other, let us take some questions.
Audience 2: I have one question each for Brian Lara and Sourav Ganguly. My question for Brian Lara is, since we were discussing your 400, the total number of runs that West Indies scored at the Eden Gardens in this test match was 402, total team taken together. What we saw was Dwayne Bravo, Rampaul, Sunil Narine, who has such a brilliant record at the Eden Gardens, they were all back home, they were not taken into this test. So do you think West Indies could actually win a test match with some one like Darren Sammy and Dinesh Ramdin in their team? Is it possible?
Brian Lara: Well yes, I think we could win a match with Darren Sammy and Ramdin in a team, because we have done that in our past. But you are quite right. I think the selectors have got it wrong. I don't know if they have labelled Narine T20 bowler or 50 over bowler. He is the best bowler in the world in that version of the game, does not mean that he would not improve to be a better test cricketer. Playing for KKR as well and knowing that there is a test match and at Eden Gardens, a test match in Mumbai, I see no reason why you can leave such a successful cricketer home. Dwayne Bravo baffles me as well. I have not played a test match in over 2 years. Every time I see Rampaul bowl, great improvement, and he deserves to be in any West Indies team, so I am baffled just like you are, the names that you have called that are not here. West Indies team has won with this line up before. I thought it's always going to be difficult to win in India, but to play good cricket, to respect the occasion, I don't think we have done any of that at all. I actually think that we did not turn up at the Eden Gardens and I am very, very disappointed. I went to Eden Gardens today. There were about 70 people. I wanted to go there and see 70,000 people and that was unfortunate. But lets hope that the selectors still get it right, but the three names that you have called definitely are the guys that are very much in the upper echelons of cricketers in the world, and very well respected and they should be respected.
Dr Roy: So don't the selectors listen to you?
Brian Lara: I take no part. I hope they don't go too far because they have something to say about it.
Audience 2: I have seen you saying that Sachin Tendulkar was on the hit list of a very great Indian coach Mr. Greg Chappell. So what was Sachin Tendulakar's attitude towards Greg Chappell?
Sourav Ganguly: It's a tough question for me to answer because that's his attitude. I think his attitude was simple just to go and get some runs. That's the attitude we have as batsman and that's what is all about.
Audience 3: My question is to Brian Lara, there was that one moment in your cricketing history, or in cricketing history in general. Which would it be and would you like to relive it or go through it any one moment?
Brian Lara: Quite a few. I mean it's been; I have enjoyed a lot of my career. I would say playing against Australia in 1999, being the under dogs by huge margin. Losing in Trinidad and going into the last test match too, one up in a series where no one expected us to be. That series I would like to relive. I would like to have a different result in the last test match.
Dr Roy: That's lovely. You know I hate to say that, I am just thinking as I go along there is one moment you would not like to relive, I think I watched it, actually was your first one or two test matches where you got run out unnecessarily. You remember that? Was it in New Zealand?
Sourav Ganguly: Prannoy I got 100 on debut, how could you forget that?
Dr Roy: That was in England. But in New Zealand remember?
Sourav Ganguly: That was much after that.
Dr Roy: I remember that.
Brian Lara: Even I knew that.
Dr Roy: In his early years, he had one terrible moment.
Sourav Ganguly: One terrible moment when I was making a come back against West Indies in Nagpur and I got run out for 99, so probably if I could change...
Dr Roy: 99 is not bad. If your total started an innings will you take back 99?
Sourav Ganguly: Yes, that's the way to console it, still not a 100. And run out, if I could have got a good delivery and hit straight into the hands of the field as it ran and I was not even close.
Dr Roy: It still hurts, a little bit?
Sourav Ganguly: No it doesn't. You reminded me now. I have gone past it now.
Audience 4: My question is for Sourav Sir. Sir what makes an Indian cricketer be an Indian cricketer? Like how did you deal with those expectations of a billion people?
Sourav Ganguly: Well, I didn't worry about the expectations of a billion people, I just wanted to play and do well for myself, because that's what I wanted to do. Because you know, we talk about cricket as being a team sport which is fine, but if you get runs, the team benefits and I can't worry about the billions of expectations and play my game, because I will never be able to play the game. I just needed to find a way to succeed, create my own shell where I would; I needed to be for India. Because when you play for India, I am sure it's the same for West Indies. That it is so much focused on you, there is so much attention. They are hounded by people, even my maid at home, in the morning of the game would say, you need to play well. Yes they would and if you didn't play well and if you lose.
Dr Roy: Grumpy...
Sourav Ganguly: I could see the change of face of the driver in my car. Yes, they get grumpy as well. This is such a big sport in this country. So I had to find my way to succeed and I had to tell these people get away from me and let me play. That's the only way you can do it, because if you keep worrying about other things rather than the sport and it's for you as well. I am sure in your academics your teachers on your head, your parents are on your head, your friends doing better than you, so you have to put all those things behind and just focus on what you can do best and see what happens at the end of the day.
Audience 5: Sir, how do you react when people call you the 'God of the offside'?
Sourav Ganguly: I take it as a compliment and just move on.
Dr Roy: That's wonderful. I just want to get back to your captaincy. It really was a period when you transformed Indian cricket by your captaincy, strategic, leadership, it was never like that before.
Sourav Ganguly: Yes, we were a bit soft. And I say with all due respect, when I first went on the tour to England on 1996, I could see we were playing England in England, we didn't have a great bowling attack like the West Indies had, when Brian came into test cricket. And we could see that they felt that it was a good side, Tendulkar will get good runs, Dravid will get good runs, Ganguly will get runs but we will beat them. And we could see that in the opposition's face. And as a team also, that we accepted it. That okay, we have come back from a tour with Sachin getting 300 in 3 test matches but we didn't win. We just moved on to another tour and I wanted to change that. Because home, as Brian said it few minutes ago, that we had a great side, we still have a great side and we going on a 15-month overseas trip now to India, South Africa, New Zealand, England and Australia. And I have said that even now, a few days ago, when somebody was asking me, its like climbing on a hill and they were asking me about young cricketers, what's their future? I said it's a good thing for Indian cricket that they are going overseas. Who will take Indian cricket forward will survive the drive and those who won't will fall off. So whether you play well or you don't play well you still make a team. And I have always believed in that we needed to be a good side overseas. When the West Indies were at their best, now I remember they beat India 5-nil. They go to England. They beat them. They go to Australia. They beat them. Ambrose and Brian at number 3. You talk about Viv Richards, just turn up and beat the team. And what you have seen from Indian cricket team over the 10 years since 2010, till the last time we went to Australia where we lost 4-nil, our overseas performance has just got better and better because everybody wanted to be a better team. It's about getting the mindset right, of the players to accept that we are at good side at home, we are not good abroad and we need to make a change. I think that was the most important culture which needed to be set into the team, because I believe every team, every aspect in life which requires people to be together, its about the culture in them. It's about the thought process together that we want to be better in this department, and work towards it.
Dr Roy: And God lies in the details. You have to focus on the small things to get better.
Sourav Ganguly: Yes, you do but...
Dr Roy: To get from nine to nine and a half is much tougher than...
Sourav Ganguly: Yes, but the biggest detail I focused on was getting the right players, that's very important, because players will only win your games and nothing else. Because you can have 4 hours of team meetings, you can practice for 8 hours, but if you don't have the talent you will not get there. And I believed in picking the right players and giving them an opportunity, which I see a lot in Mahinder Singh Dhoni. You know everyone asks me, with due respect again, Ishaan Sharma. I said look at Dhoni, the magnanimity of Mahinder Singh Dhoni, he has made Rohit Sharma into a player. Because no Indian player who would have played a hundred one-day games with 200's against the Australia first time in this series, and he has got 100 games before he did that. He wouldn't have got an opportunity. And now we sit back and say Rohit Sharma looks different, he has got time. He has got ability. We've go to give credit to MS Dhoni, because in the past players have come and gone a side because of lack of opportunities and lack of belief. And I believe that if you walk out to play, you know players like Sehwag, Zaheer, Yuvraj, Harbhajan that came in that era, and I wanted them to worry about the cricket ball and not the things which are going around, that you're a captain, a coach, you select, because you can't play with so many things going in your head. And I've been lucky...
Dr Roy: And those are distractions.
Sourav Ganguly: Basically they are not distractions. They are pressures. Pressures because you cannot go out to bat thinking, having the fear of failure because everyone will fail. I have believed in players who would win your games because everyone will fail. You play 10 games. Good players will fail. 3 get runs in 7, ordinary ones will be in 50-50. But the seven matches, which they will score they will win you, because that's how you win cricket matches. So I have always believed in such players and tried to back them.
Dr Roy: You didn't answer that question that Brian Lara said that Virat Kohli looks like a future great, because you were a great judge of cricketer, of new fresh players. As you said you gave them a chance. Who would you focus on now as probably a future great?
Sourav Ganguly: See I would, it's still a bit early. I will be able to give that answer to you in 15 months times. Because I believe that if they go and get runs in South Africa, whether it's a Kohli or a Pujara or a Rohit Sharma, I would consider them as great, they have played all their cricket in India and it's a different ball game when it bounces here and when it goes past your nose. Its a completely different ball game, different technique and I am sure he knows that. So once they get past that I will be able to pass the judgment that who will take you forward. But I see enormous talent especially in those three players, Virat Kohli, Shekhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, because once again they win you games.
Dr Roy: Means they have temperament as well.
Sourav Ganguly: They have got the ability to win you games here. Whether they can do it in all conditions time will say. You cannot say till they actually go there. It will be unfair for me to say I don't think so, because its not fair on the cricketer and also at the same time it will be unfair for me to say they will, because I don't know how they will react.
Dr Roy: But I think you mentioned three, which will, at least you're sticking your neck out, which you always do.
Sourav Ganguly: Yes, because they look talented, they look gifted. Who has got the shots to succeed in those conditions, whether they have the temperament or not, you will find out when they actually play.
Dr Roy: But so far they have shown temperament.
Sourav Ganguly: Yes, absolutely.
Dr Roy: How important is temperament?
Brian Lara: Very important.
Dr Roy: When you can be a player but not come right at the crucial moment.
Brian Lara: Yes, I think you got to set your stalls out in terms of how you're going to go about a career in sport and you got to have a very, very good temperament. You got to be disciplined and there's lot of different things that go into becoming the very best. Skill actually drops down the line, as you get older. In the beginning you can say that he is very skillful, he is good. You know I look at Samson, I think he is an awesome player. He is 18 years old. But I don't know the individual, when he gets into that international stage, I am sure he will. It's going to be a mind game. Sourav is right. You really can't make a decision on any young player that is doing well in certain conditions. You have to see them on different conditions.
Dr Roy: So tell me, you talked about temperament. When you are padded up waiting to go to bat, what would you think about, how would you get your mind right?
Brian Lara: Well first of all my innings have already started. I am waiting to bat, I am looking at the conditions, what's going on outside and I am planning.
Dr Roy: Are you tense?
Brian Lara: Yes I am tense, I get very nervous but I actually want to go get out there. I don't want my players to get out, but I want to get out as quickly as possible. I think that is a mind set that you have to have as a batsman. You can't be sitting back and say I hope these guys see off the new ball and I don't mind going when its 30 overs old. I want to go in so I am always prepared under any situation. And if the score happens to be 200 for 2, great, but if its 20 for 3, I am getting out there. I am focused and I am ready.
Dr Roy: I must say I used to box for school. I never wanted to get into the ring. I was always nervous but actually once you got in the nerves went, same thing here?
Sourav Ganguly: You are more nervous outside. When you go in, you take guard, then it's a situation where you do or die, so its what you take. You know its like a batsman taking guard and playing the fastest bowler in the world. If you think you are going to get hit, you are going to get hit. But if you take your guard and say whatever happens, even if I get hit I will stand here, you will not get hit. So it's about what you think about for that fraction of a second and if you are thinking negative, you will get out. And if you think you are going to edge it to the slip you will invariably do it. So it's about thinking at that particular moment.
Dr Roy: So how do you control yourself from not thinking negative?
Sourav Ganguly: That's what you do in practice. That's what you do off the field. That's what your mind starts saying, I am going to get runs, I am going to play against McGrath.
Dr Roy: Because, I remember you against Pakistan, you just took it on your chest, you were very positive about it.
Sourav Ganguly: Yes, I got a double hundred against Shoaib Akhtar. I can tell you he was quick and I walked out to bat and I said listen, everyone is watching and now if he hits you, you will look like a fool, so you have to find a way to stand up. And it's also those first 20 minutes, once you get used to the pace, your body starts reacting to it. So its all about thinking and they say that if you play a test match in December against the best bowlers in the world, you just don't start thinking in December, you start think six months ago that this is how I am going to play. Your mind starts getting used to those situations and then when you go and play in the middle, obviously you react to it.
Dr Roy: That slight nerves stay for 20 minutes?
Sourav Ganguly: Yes it does. It stays for 20 minutes and its good to be nervous, I don't know what he felt. Its good to be nervous because...
Dr Roy: Adrenaline, you want the adrenaline to be flowing...
Sourav Ganguly: When you go out and perform! I believe he was, I don't know how far its true, he was batting over 300 overnight in Trinidad, and he woke up at 4 in the morning and went to play golf because he was so nervous, and he got 375 in a test match. I don't know what the journalists thought about him, that what is he doing at 4 o'clock in the morning, but that's how it is.
Dr Roy: Probably had a scratch around, he is a champion golfer as well.
Sourav Ganguly: I played a test match in Eden Gardens against Pakistan and I was batting overnight on 20. I didn't have a hundred in Eden Gardens and I went back home and I couldn't sleep the whole night. I woke up at 3 in the morning and watched TV, because I just turned and tossed because I knew I would be facing the ball next morning. And I was thinking where to hit Shoaib, where to hit Sammy and then I got a 100 at the end of the day at Eden. That was a bit of a relief and then my dad was alive then. I never saw him so happy when I went back home. I have got 100's around the world, but that day I have never saw him, a person more happy than he was. So you go through nervous times, which at times is very, very good.
Dr Roy: Good to be nervous a bit?
Brian Lara: You have to be nervous. I don't think there is any sportsman, any top sportsman, who can tell you that they are not nervous before they do.
Dr Roy: But I love what you said, that you still must want to go there.
Brian Lara: Well its 9 of us who were off the field. The minute I walked down the staircase and onto the field I felt in control.
Audience 6: I have a question for both Sourav Ganguly and Brian Lara. First to Dada, good evening Sir. Does Dhoni need to be more aggressive so that India can perform better overseas, given South Africa tour is coming and given the face that before the Champions Trophy, Indian team did not play very well in England tour and Australia tour?
Sourav Ganguly: I think he can learn from those experiences. The tour of Australia and England, because obviously we lost 8 test matches in a row and only positive way I can look, is he was captain then and he is captain now. So he has to find a way to learn out of it. But the other side of it he's got a lot of young players who have never been to that country. There is no Tendulkar. There is no Dravid. There is no Lakshman. So it's a first time for all of them. It could be either good or bad. They do not have the scare of losing in Australia and England. So it could be good in one way. And the other side I see is getting used to those conditions, have never played there before. So we will have to wait and see. But Dhoni's the only player who has been in all conditions and hopefully he can make a difference.
Audience 6: Does he not need to be aggressive the way you were?
Sourav Ganguly: He is actually aggressive because you can't get results without being positive and aggressive. His body language is different, every human being is different and I think he has done a wonderful job for India. But once again if he is watching us on this show, we will look forward to what he does in South Africa, New Zealand and England.
Audience 6: For Lara Sir. Sir don't you think that the West Indies cricket team is not doing justice to the honour it had when there was Clive Lloyd, when there was Viv Richards or when there was Brian Charles Lara in the team?
Brian Lara: Well, I don't think that. It's not just been the last few days. It's been quite a while. I mean already started in roughly around 1995, so its close on 20 years that we have not been as consistent as we were back in 70's and 80's. That is not all the players fault. As I said earlier, administratively we have not done anything to enhance ourselves. The results you see on the field is yes, you can say simply that this player is not playing well, drop that one, but it's more deep rooted than you think.
Dr Roy: But we tend to forget. You had India 83 for 5.
Brian Lara: Yes, but we have had many teams.
Dr Roy: I just want to ask you, talking about the tension and the nervousness, tossing and turning, not being able to sleep and you must worry I am not able to sleep, I won't be at my best, so that makes you worse, so that's even worse. What will Sachin be going through, 200th test, coming out on the field, what would he be going through a night before?
Sourav Ganguly: I am sure he will be nervous. Whether he gets to sleep or not, I don't know. It's the way he is thinking. He could be thinking that I have given everything I have had over the years, its just another test for me, it's just another milestone.
Dr Roy: You know him, you know him so well. So what do you feel, will he be very relaxed or tense?
Sourav Ganguly: No, he is not very relaxed. I have seen him go through different, different state of mind. But I have not seen him, what he does after 9 30 in his room, because we are in our rooms trying to prepare myself.
Dr Roy: In your rooms or you are with Brian Lara at bars? Sorry
Brian Lara: Why do I have such a bad image?
Dr Roy: Its not you, he has got the bad image, no, not at all, and carry on.
Sourav Ganguly: And I really don't know, but he has to be nervous. It is such a big milestone and it is such a big day for him, that he will never going to play again for India, so he has to be nervous. And talking about Brian, you know he is one of the nicest persons I have met. I have known him for a long, long time and I have met people who have pushed me down the road. But Brian Lara has been one of the best I have seen.
Dr Roy: What advice would you give Sachin the evening or the night before he goes for this big, big match?
Brian Lara: Obviously both of us sitting here, no come anywhere close to what he is facing on Thursday, this is hard to give an opinion. But I believe that if I were in his shoes I'll be thinking that I don't need to prove anything. It would be wonderful thing if I can get a big score at home in my last game and I would prepare for that. I would prepare over the next couple of days to ensure that I put myself at the best place to get that. But don't put myself on any undue pressure because there is nothing to prove. And I think the most important thing is what motivates Sachin? And he has got a fine art and if it is to put himself under pressure, well then do it. If it is to relax, he has got to find out and be more motivated. I'm here to see runs, I'm here to see West Indies win, but I'm here to see Sachin playing in his innings in his last test.
Dr Roy: I bet one position neither of you would like to be the umpire when he is batting.
Sourav Ganguly: But he has got to do a job too. If he is out he is out, he's got to give it.
Dr Roy: No you want to give him out when he is not out.
Sourav Ganguly: I don't think anybody does it deliberately. Because I have seen umpires around the world who have got so much respect for Sachin, and of the great Dicky Bird, David Shepherd, who have stood at the other end when I played, Sachin played, you could see the enormous respect they have and I don't think any body does it deliberately. But as we say everyone is human and everyone makes mistakes.
Dr Roy: It's a frightening thought, I don't want top get that tense. Sachin's in Bombay on 99; will you let him get his 100th or will you fight to make sure he doesn't? I want to know the truth.
Brain Lara: I'll make sure that he fights to get the hundred.
Dr Roy: As West Indians will fight to make sure that he doesn't get the 100.
Brian Lara: I would make sure that he fights to get it. He has got 99 already and we didn't give anything away so he would want to fight for it.
Dr Roy: Just give him one run.
Brian Lara: He's going to get it.Â Â
Audience 7: Won't you think that the pitches in India should be modified pacer friendly so that the pitches can give a much more challenging conditions to a batsman, which awakes them in the form of South African and Australian pitches rather than making them batsman's paradise?
Sourav Ganguly: Yes, it's the way you look at it. You still have to win a test match In India and try and win it, and then think about South Africa. See in last 10 years, when players like Dravid, Tendulkar. Laxman, Sehwag were at their best, we still played on turning tracks in India and then we went to Australia. We won. We beat England in England after 25 years, Pakistan in Pakistan, ever for the first time. Then we went to Australia, the series Brian was talking about when we played in Australia we just dominated them. Winning the World Cup in South Africa. Getting to the World Cup final in South Africa. So even during these periods, when we came back home we played on pitches, which spun. So I don't think it's so closely related that you have to prepare seeming bouncing pitches to succeed. Because I feel, when I look at Virat Kohli, when I look at Shekhar Dhawan, when I look at Rohit Sharma, I just feel they have the ability to adjust quickly and succeed. And they'll have too because you don't get so much time these days in when you tour. You know India just playing a two day game before the first test taken South Africa in Benonia and I remembered when I was a captain, before we went to Australia, I had requested the BCCI to make us play 3 three-days games before we played the first test in Brisbane in Australia. So that's the way it is. It's going to be hard on India when they go to South Africa and play a two-day game and just get into a test match straight away in Durban on a green seeming pitch. It's going to be hard, but that's the way it is.
Dr Roy: Tell me, we keep saying that we should have pacer wickets. Why can't they make their wickets more turning? Why should we adjust all the time?
Sourav Ganguly: It's true but everyone plays to their strengths. Their strength is fast bowling, our strength is spin, so we play to our strength and they play to their strength.
Dr Roy: So we should keep the wicket and let them learn?
Sourav Ganguly: Absolutely!
Dr Roy: You should learn to play a turn on a turning wicket as well?
Brian Lara: We already have to when they come here. It's guaranteed so I understand, but it's, just to add to that answer for the question. I think the onus is definitely on the player. You know I grew up in Trinidad. I try to in Guyana and its turn in slow wickets, so he has played on those grounds already. But we love to go abroad. We love to play at pitch and we would train our mind and our body to get in care in what we going to get. And that's where the Indian players have to make adjustment. Don't get six under runs in India you know, a hundred runs in South Africa to make that adjustment. I used to tape a soft ball, a tennis ball with electrical tape and have my brothers chuck it on 15 yards of me and get the ball passing through quickly, just to make that mental and physical adjustment. And if you want it be a great sportsman you got to be able to handle in any conditions.
Dr Roy: And Perth is the epitome of bouncy, pacy pitch, is that it?
Brian Lara: Back in my day and I'm not sure about now.
Sourav Ganguly: It's changed a lot. When we played a test match in Perth in the series against Australia, I found Brisbane quicker than Perth. It's got a bit of bounce, a tennis ball bounce, but Brisbane actually went through.
Dr Roy: That's amazing change, because its reputation was always through Perth
Sourav Ganguly: We tried to get it back as India it was, but they haven't managed.
Audience 8: My question to Brian Lara. Is it true that the youngsters in West Indies are not very interested in cricket nowadays? They are going for other sports like baseball, football or basketball. Is it true?
Brain Lara: I keep hearing that but I am not seeing it. Times have changed. What we did 30 years ago, I played cricket and football. I could not wait to get out of school and get on the field. It is different now. That is happening all over the world. Technologies, computers, they have a lot more options now. The problem lies in the infrastructure. If there is reduced amount of youngsters who want to play cricket, it not mean that we cannot be the best in the world. There is no infrastructure, no academy, there is nothing that tells the youngster, come and play cricket, and we will make sure we enhance whatever ability you have. So that is where the problem is. Yes there is less in the park but I still don't feel that is the problem.
Audience 8: Tell me your favorite 5 batsmen in the world.
Brian Lara: I enjoyed all batsmen for what they brought to the game but I would say very quickly Sachin, Sir Vivian Richards, Alan Border, Sourav Ganguly, and Ricky Ponting. You have asked me a question to which I have not paid much attention to, it is not important to me.
Audience 9: I have seen the matches of Clive Walcott and Everton Weekes in 1948. My question to you is, Sir, I am very much fond of test matches. I am against T20, one-day or IPLl matches. You are the true idols of cricket. I want that you must come out that these games such as IPL, T20, and one-day should be banned, so that test match may flourish.
Brian Lara: It is a statement that he has made. I am very fond of test cricket as well but I believe that the game has evolved and we are playing a sport. It does not matter how much we believe in the sport, we the purists of the game love the longer format of the game, it is still a spectator sport. And T20 has brought a new generation into the cricket grounds. It is now full. Advertising money. A whole different ball game and I appreciate that as well. I like my test cricket. I like the fact that he played over 100 test matches. I would never give that away for anything. But we are playing in a different century and if this is what makes the spectator happy I believe that we got to go with it. It is exciting. We will go watch it one day.
Dr Roy: Do you think it's a bit like classical music and one-day matches are like pop music and 20/20 is like rap or something? Like classical and pop live together.
Sourav Ganguly: You can say that. Obviously classical music is a bit slower, it's time consuming, pop is like fast and rap is the quickest. So you can put it in that way. But T20 cricket is here to stay, whatever you say, whatever, whether the people like it or they don't like it.
Dr Roy: Will it go T10?
Sourav Ganguly: Well I don't think, because you, to give time to people to finish their beer. I think T20 is here to stay and I am a big fan of T20 cricket and IPL. And I will be honest, not because I belong to India and close to BCCI or whatever you say, because you know, when I look at a lot of first class players, you know when I played my first Ranji Trophy game and I got four hundreds rupees. And when I look at a lot of these first class players, who may not play for the country, they get so handsomely paid by the IPL, they look after our first class cricket and yes I am a huge fan of that
Dr Roy: They deserve it. Being paid 400 rupees is not...
Sourav Ganguly: You look at Ashok Dinda, who I like so much, you never know how many test matches and one days he will play, whether he is going to get a contract with BCCI or not. He has got 11 seasons of IPL to play. He performs. He makes a fortune out of it. Once he finishes, he is a fast bowler, he will finish by age 33,34, and looking at his common sense, I don't think he will go beyond that. From that point of view I am very happy that he is going to make all the money.
Dr Roy: He is being rewarded for his talent.
Sourav Ganguly: I must thank whoever started this IPL. It looks after the first class players, for me that is the biggest plus point of IPL. I don't see the millions Dhoni gets, I dont see the millions Pollard gets, what Sachin Tendulkar gets. I see what Ashok Dinda gets, what Ambaty Raidu has got this while. I see what Joginder Sharma has got, whose claim to fame was the reverse sweep by Misbah in the T20 World Cup Final, and never played a game after that. So I am a big fan of the way that they have been looked after. I enjoy watching it. My daughter never wa