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Sourav congratulated Simon on Finding the Gaps

An evening of cricket talk with Simon Taufel and Sourav Ganguly

Sourav Ganguly was the cynosure of all eyes at former star umpire Simon Taufel’s book launch at ITC Sonar’s Pala

By Saionee Chakraborty

  • Published 19.11.19, 6:51 PM
  • Updated 19.11.19, 6:51 PM

Purple shirt. Black trousers. A smile on his face. Sourav Ganguly was the cynosure of all eyes at former star umpire Simon Taufel’s book launch at ITC Sonar’s Pala on November 2. He drew the laughs almost immediately after taking the mic. “(It’s) not me alone who is getting old!” he chuckled. The audience guffawed. He congratulated Simon on Finding the Gaps. “I had written a book last year. So, I know how difficult it is to complete this process… it is an emotional journey as well,” said the new president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. He took a trip down memory lane, serving the audience a slice of nostalgia. “At the peak of my playing career, I have seen him very closely. In an era where technology was just starting to come in, in an era when television was so critical, in an era when people still filled up the ground for Test matches, he just stood out. I think he had enormous pressure on him to be a stand-out umpire in those days because he came from a country (Australia) which probably had the best cricket team in the last 30-35 years… cricket was played in a way when the rest of the world had to stand up and say that if I have to compete, I’ll have to be right up there,” said Sourav, before settling down for an elaborate chat.

Success, leadership, integrity, values, attitude, resilience, learning from mistakes and picking yourself up after failures, “unlocking the potential” summed up the evening. 

Pictures: Rashbehari Das
Photo Credit: Pictures: Rashbehari Das

(L-R) Atul Bhalla, area manager east ITC Hotels & cluster general manager ITC Royal Bengal & ITC Sonar, Nilaanjana J Chakraborty, Toufique Hasan, deputy high commissioner of Bangladesh, Australian consul-general Andrew Ford, Sourav Ganguly and Simon Taufel at the unveiling of Simon’s book Finding the Gaps. “Sourav je kotota hero tar proman hochhey uni aamader honourable Prime Minister (Sheikh Hasina) ke invite korechhen and she has agreed. We are so happy that he has become the BCCI president. Ek ta toh aachhey je Bangali hishebey… I have also seen when Bangladesh comes to play here, Calcutta and West Bengal feels that 11 Bengalis are playing here,” said Hasan, who follows the T20 more because “it is a shorter format and easy to follow”. “I will obviously follow the Test match that Bangladesh will play here,” he said. A couple of years in Calcutta and Hasan feels the city is “home outside home”. For Bhalla, the “underlying takeaway from Simon Taufel’s book were integrity, values and great leadership”. “It is in keeping with ITC Hotels’ values in our continuing journey of excellence, deepening our association with the game of cricket, a sport we believe outlines true sportsmanship in human endeavour,” he said. Ford liked fast bowlers like Dennis Lillee when he was young. “I was sort of a fast bowler when I was young,” he said. Steve Waugh has always been one of his favourite cricketers “because of his fighting attitude”. “The thing you have to remember about Steve Waugh is that early on, he struggled to get into the Test team. Once he hit his mark, he stayed the best. This fits in with today’s talk… it’s about people persisting and reaching their abilities. His brother was naturally talented… Mark Waugh… but Steve Waugh went to higher heights because of hard work,” Ford told t2 post-launch. The evening for him combined two of his passions… sport and leadership. “He (Simon) is a man who has risen to the top of his game where his every decision receives intense scrutiny. He knows what it takes to succeed at the highest level under pressure. The books also seeks to inspire individuals to reach their potential and try something new. So, when my government rang me up about a year ago and offered my wife and me the opportunity of setting up a new Australian diplomatic post here in Calcutta, we grabbed that challenge with two hands,” added Ford.

Pictures: Rashbehari Das
Photo Credit: Pictures: Rashbehari Das

The launch was hosted by cricket enthusiast Nilaanjana J Chakraborty and ITC Sonar. “This book is about soft skills and life skills... about how we find our gaps and how we close those gaps and how we become better people as a result. We look at the fundamentals… what it takes to be successful. To get to the top and more particularly stay there… bouncing back from mistakes. Once you realise you cannot go any lower, it is actually a good thing… give up or come back stronger and harder. This book talks about unlocking your potential,” said Simon. Nilaanjana always had a book launch on her mind. “I love the game of cricket and the joys, the peace and relaxation it has given me over the years… Simon Taufel is an old family friend and I wanted his voice to be heard beyond the confines of the game…. Hosting him is always a pleasure for us, because he is easy-going, a razor-sharp mind and a great analyst of life… I am opening up my firm shortly to do interesting programmes related to management services, sports, art, culture, tie-ups to facilitate more positive interaction between people,” she said. Sports journalist Boria Majumdar took part in the adda too.

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Pictures: Rashbehari Das
Photo Credit: Pictures: Rashbehari Das

Christine Ford, wife of Andrew Ford, too, grew up watching cricket because her father was a “big cricket fan”. “Back in the days when I used to watch, which was a very long time ago, it was the clowns that would attract your attention… Merv Hughes doing his exercises in the outfield… for the uninitiated watcher, it was often the clowns that caught your attention… then, of course, they clowned around a little too much off the field… so, the discipline of the current players is much more admirable,” she laughed.

Pictures: Rashbehari Das
Photo Credit: Pictures: Rashbehari Das

Arjun Chakraborty played a gracious host along with wife Nilaanjana.

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Sourav speaks

  • I think the most important part of my life was playing the sport. I never thought that I would play for the state or the country... I kept playing and things kept falling into place. I started liking the game and feeling good at the end of the day… my interest and love continued…. Then I went on to become the captain of the country, which was a huge honour… it was a drive that came from within.

  • In terms of achievement, I feel I am blessed. I try and do the best at what I am given at that point. I have a tremendous drive to excel in everything. I should be able to tell myself that whatever opportunity came my way, I gave it my best. You won’t be successful always. There are days when you train the hardest but nicked the first ball in a Test match… that’s life. You’ve got to find a way to balance it… imagine Simon giving an LBW decision to Sachin Tendulkar on Day Five of a Test in a split second and I say this because it teaches you a lot of things. Cricket has taught me… life. The most important thing that this sport gave me in life was the belief in myself. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

  • I was fortunate that I got dropped after 10 years because by then I had a huge amount of self-belief. Not once did I believe that I will not get an opportunity and if I got that, I wouldn’t score runs. You’ll only be respected if you take the harder options. That creates reputation. I knew that I would go down, but I also knew that I would go up.

    What helps is I am a very patient person… trying to adjust with everything. I have also learnt to create my own expectations. When you take decisions, someone will be happy and someone will not be happy, but that’s life. When I became the captain, someone told me that when you go to sleep, you should be able to tell yourself that you did everything that was in the best interest of the team. You have been put in that position to take a call for the country and you have to do it.

  • For all of us who played the sport… the passion of doing what you love the most will never be there (after retirement). I think Simon can still be involved in educating young umpires…. For me, I remember him speaking to ICC… the most disciplined captain of that era was Sourav Ganguly. So, thank you for that, Simon! (Thunderous applause) See, everybody takes seriously what I say! (To Simon) I hope we didn’t give you too much trouble!

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