If you poked Sourav Ganguly, you were going to get it back says Graeme Smith

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Mumbai: Former South Africa Graeme Smith lauded Sourav Ganguly for causing a paradigm shift in Indian cricket. Smith, who was up against Ganguly quite a few times in his career, believes the former India captain’s feature of giving it back to the opposition stood out, while reflecting upon the relationship the two have come to share over the years. “You knew if you poked Dada, you were going to get something back always,” Smith said. “I have spent a fair amount of time with Dada now. Particularly in administration now, we are having a number of conversations over the telephone. He is always calm and approachable, always interested in a good conversation.”

Smith recalled Ganguly’s epic celebration at Lord’s when he took off his shirt and waved it after India beat England by two wickets in the final of the 2002 Natwest Trophy. Calling it a beautiful sight, Smith said the celebration was synonymous to the fearless attitude Ganguly led the team with.

“I think all of us remember that celebration, it was a beautiful sight seeing Dada. More than anything besides the humour of it all, it was the passion that he showed in celebration,” Smith said.

“It showed how much India winning meant to him and to overcome the challenge of winning the NatWest Trophy in England, to win away from home, driving Indian cricket forward. I think that shot epitomises everything we have discussed today. But I do have a chuckle every time I see it now. Also, Dada was running short on the hair side on those days, so it is a very humorous shot. But from a passion perspective, that speaks volumes about Dada.”

At 22, Smith was appointed the youngest South Africa captain in the year 2003 and even though he and Ganguly did not face each other a lot as opposition skippers, the former SA batsman revealed there were a few instances when the two went at each other. However, things never slipped out of hands and neither did Ganguly make Smith wait at the toss, a treatment he dished out to Australia’s Steve Waugh.

“No, he didn’t,” responded Smith when asked if Ganguly ever made his wait at the toss. “We had one or two moments when we were at each other a little bit. I was quite feisty in my youth as a captain and certainly we know that Dada never backed away.”

Smith recalled Ganguly’s epic celebration at Lord’s and said, “It showed how much India winning meant to him and to overcome the challenge of winning the NatWest Trophy in England, to win away from home, driving Indian cricket forward.

I think that shot epitomises everything we have discussed today. But I do have a chuckle every time I see it now. Also, Dada was running short on the hair side on those days, so it is a very humorous shot. But from a passion perspective, that speaks volumes about Dada.”

Earlier, Graeme Smith had also recommended the name of his former playmate and BCCI’s head Sourav Ganguly as ICC’s chief.

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