'I didn't want you in the team' - When Sourav Ganguly had reservations with Irfan Pathan's skills

‘I didn’t want you in the team’ – When Sourav Ganguly had reservations with Irfan Pathan’s skills

Ganguly later admitted his mistake of judging Irfan Pathan wrongly.

Sourav Ganguly and Irfan Pathan
Sourav Ganguly and Irfan Pathan. (Photo Source: ALEXANDER JOE/AFP via Getty Images)

In the 2003-04 India tour of Australia, during the final Test in Sydney, we saw a young pacer charge and dismiss Adam Gilchrist with a sheering yorker. The ball was so memorable that it has left a lasting memory on everyone who saw it. That youngster was Irfan Pathan, who was playing in just his second match. 

During a recent interaction, the now-retired all-rounder talked about his debut tour while also revealing that his captain, Sourav Ganguly, didn’t initially want him in the side. Ganguly, who is also fondly referred to as ‘Dada’, had a reputation of backing young talent. However, in the case of Irfan, Ganguly had his reservations. 

While speaking on Star Sports during the tea break on day three of the ICC World Test Championship final, Pathan revealed that ahead of his debut in Australia, the captain had come to him and said, “I did not want you in the team.” Irfan further added by saying, “Dada thought that I was too young as a 19-year-old to be playing in Australia and that I would be challenged.”

He came up to me and said how he was wrong in his views, that really shocked me: Irfan Pathan

As a young bowler, Pathan was going to face some challenges, however, as it turned out by the end of the tour, he was India’s new find, in terms of fast bowling talent. He picked four wickets in the two matches which he played, including his three-wicket haul in Sydney. Pathan further went on to say that the captain had later come up to him and admitted his mistake. 

“He came up to me and said how he was wrong in his views. That really shocked me, because very rarely does a skipper talk about the selection and then admits his mistake,” Pathan recalled.

Irfan Pathan went on to feature in 29 Tests. He picked 100 wickets at 32.26 while also adding 1105 runs with that bat. He averaged 31.57 with the bat, scoring one century and six fifties. Pathan was one of the brightest talents in Indian cricket when he was playing. His short Test career also saw him pick up the first-over hat-trick against Pakistan in Karachi in 2006.