Sourav Ganguly and Ricky Ponting were exemplary leaders of their times. They were also fierce competitors. The years have blunted their aggression, but not the spark. The two former captains, who have come together to push the fortunes of Delhi Capitals, engaged the audience in their first joint interaction.
Despite a history of disagreements, the two insisted they always got along well. Reminded about the controversial dismissal of Ganguly in the acrimonious 2008 Sydney Test match, where Michael Clarke in the slips had appeared to take a catch on the bounce, Ganguly cooly dodged the bullet.
“He (Ponting) said I was out, so I was out.”
Ponting was ready with a quick retort. “Michael Clarke said you were out, so I backed him up. I always backed him up!”
The two were generous in each other's praise. Ponting was envious of Ganguly's talent to handle spin, Ganguly spoke in awe of Australian's pull shot off the front foot.
“I absolutely admired his leadership style with the Indian team. He kind of gave them the kind of presence they didn't have before he took over as the Indian captain. I envied the way he hit spin bowling. I couldn't play spin bowling anywhere near as he could,” Ponting said.
Ganguly returned the compliment. “I admired everything about him. The way he batted, the way he led, the way he went about his job, the energy he had in his cricket. He was a fantastic cricketer of our generation. The way he played the big matches, the way he got the team going into the finals, winning two World Cups..it was a remarkable achievement.
“I was envious the way he would just go on the front foot and hit anywhere from the midwicket to the fine leg.”
Asked what he disliked about Ganguly, Ponting was point blank. “I didn't like the way he kept us Australian captains waiting for the toss. He didn't do it to me, might have done to Steve Waugh a couple of times, it is a bit of folklore in Australian cricket,” he laughed. Even Ganguly couldn't repress a chuckle.
The two legends were serious about bringing in a winning culture in Delhi team. “Delhi Capitals are serious to win the IPL and we will give ourselves every opportunity to do that with a player of Sourav's calibre around, we do a lot of talking, to find ways to improve the players on a daily basis and if we can do that then hopefully the results will come to us. We have got a good blend of youth and experience in our squad, " said Ponting who is the head coach.
Ganguly, who has joined the team as an advisor, chimed in. “I absolutely agree with him. We will do everything to get that going.”