Ashish Nehra played a large part of his international cricket under the captaincy of Sourav Ganguly and arguably his best came under Dada’s leadership only.
On Nehra’s retirement, Ganguly went nostalgic and shared his experience of playing and nourishing the Delhi-born cricketer. In an interview given to India Today, Ganguly took a light jibe at Nehra, saying that he spent more time with his physio than his wife. He obviously referred to the many injuries that occurred to Nehra over his 18-year long career.
Ganguly said, “I think his best friend was the physio. I think he probably spent more time with the physio than his wife.”
He added, “His [Nehra’s] body didn’t hold up for the most part of his career. But he was extremely gifted that he continued even after all these injuries. He is very competitive, he never gave up.”
Nehra always remains happy
In the post-match presentation after the 1st T20I against New Zealand, Ashish Nehra’s last words were, “Retirement or no retirement, I am always happy.”
Ganguly said the same thing about Nehra. He said that the best thing about Nehra is that he will brim a smile on is face, irrespective of the situation. Ganguly said, “Nehra is someone who just remains happy whether he plays or not. That’s the best thing. He always is smiling. I dealt with him when he was young.”
Ganguly’s fondest memory of Nehra
The former Indian captain said that Ashish Nehra was always ready to play and dropping him meant he had to deal with him after the end of the match, although he did not say anything during the match. Ganguly said, “Every time when I had to leave him out, every time I told Nehra ‘Ashu you’re not part of the game’, I knew the doorbell would ring after the game.”
“He wouldn’t say anything before or during the game, but exactly at 11 pm, when you reach the hotel, the doorbell would ring. And Ashish walks in, in his shorts and slippers, with his fragile legs and with hands inside his T-shirt, rubbing his belly he would ask ‘why did I not get picked’.
“I would tell him, ‘I wanted to give someone else the opportunity, someone else has performed better’.
“It was then all the stats would come up. He would say ‘I can bowl at 149 for you. Do you think I am not fit? Give me the ball, I will show you’.
Same happened before the epic game against England in 2003 World Cup. Nehra had slipped in the game against Namibia and had hurt his ankle. But He wanted to play the next game against England.
Ganguly recollected “He did exactly that in South Africa. He slipped in the game against Namibia, he had a hugely swollen ankle. We had the game against England in the next three or four days. I asked Ashish what to do with him.
“He said, ‘just put my name and I will run in for you’. He did just that. His best bowling figures came against England in that match. That’s the speciality of Nehra, he never gives up.”