Centurion Park (Pretoria): The feud between Saurav Ganguly and Australian Test skipper Steve Waugh is over, at least for now, as the Indian skipper took time off his World Cup worries to admit that he had the greatest regard for the Aussie "champion".
The much publicised feud was actually "co-incidental" and "unintended," Ganguly said as India take on Australia in a World Cup match on Saturday. "Waugh is a champion, a great man," Ganguly said. Ganguly's differences with Waugh in a home series in 2001 made as much headlines world over as India's shock 2-1 win over the world champions in the Test series.
"It was a result of small things that happened coincidentally," Ganguly said, according to a report on a Website. Ganguly was termed boorish and arrogant in Australian media after he repeatedly kept Waugh waiting for toss during that series and once even came out for the toss in track suit. But Ganguly insisted any such "snub" was unintended. "They were blown up as if they were done purposely," Ganguly said. "As a cricketer, he is a champion... a great man. I am a great fan of Steve Waugh. That's the bottom line.
"He is a great, great cricketer and I have the deepest regard for him, honestly. Probably the most regard I have for a cricketer. Things happen on the field but I thought it was blown out of proportions." But Ganguly seems to have hit instant rapport with Australian One-day skipper Ricky Ponting, the pair having shared a lengthy chat in Cape Town this week prior to the World Cup opening ceremony.
"I probably spent 30 or 40 minutes with him just talking about cricket and about batting and I'd never really done that with him before," Ponting said. "He sort of stayed away from us a lot (in India). It was nice to have that sort of chat and get to know him a little bit better. It's funny - when you play against a lot of people, you gather different opinions of them until you get to know them really well," Ponting said.
"I don't really know where that started with (Ganguly) and Stephen. I think they had a few heated conversations out on the ground." Meanwhile, the Website said Harbhajan Singh would bowl his new mystery ball in the game against the Australians. "I held back from releasing the delivery against Holland but may bowl against the Australians," said the offie, who picked 32 wickets in the 2001 Test series at home. "I'm still working on (the new delivery).
I may bowl it on Saturday, but I wasn't confident enough to bowl it in the first match. I won't tell you what it is, you can see it on the TV," he said. Indian coach John Wright said his "enigmatic" side dramatically lifts its game when confronting the Australians. "(Harbhajan) loves playing against Australia," Wright said. "He's one of the players that has had success. Australia has brought out the best in the Indian cricket team, and obviously I'd like to see that continue."