Former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly’s fondness for driving in England is well documented. But not many know that he preferred driving over travelling in the tube after what he described as “one of the most terrifying moments” of his life during his first tour to England in 1996.
The incident occurred during Ganguly’s first tour to England where he declared himself on the international stage by scoring a century on debut and concluding the series with two centuries in three matches with an average of 105.It all took place when the renowned Indian captain had some free time and made a decision to go meet some family in Pinner along with Navjot Singh Sidhu from Cavendish in Piccadilly.
"I will almost always drive myself around when I’m in England now, after one of the most frightening moments of my life travelling on the London Underground,” he wrote. “We set off towards Pinner and got on the tube. In our carriage there was a number of three girls, two boys and young adolescents, and they were drinking. We were sitting opposite them and I really could see that we were being looked at by one of them while he was drinking his beer.”
He declared that he didn’t get a “good feeling” regarding the group of youngsters and attempted to look at other things but couldn’t help but discovering that they were becoming fidgety and suddenly one lad completed his drink and threw the can.
Describing the situation at that time, Ganguly wrote, “I could tell he was looking for many kind of reaction. I didn’t want to become involved and I said to Sidhu to leave it. I picked up the can and place it to one side, at which point the young lad said to me and stood up, ‘what did you say?’
I told him I didn’t say anything, but Sidhu jumped in and confronted him. I knew then that there was going to be some trouble.
”What ensured was a melee by which there were several punches thrown and things got nasty but that couldn’t have prepared for what was to happen thereafter Ganguly.
“There were some punches and, just as we got into a station, I pushed the lad and he fell over. He got up and another thing I saw was a gun in my own face. I My gosh, this is it – my life is going to be over here on this particular train.”
Thankfully for Ganguly, among the girls saved his life by taking the lad off the train.“But then among the girls, who was quite big, grabbed him and pulled him away and took him off the train. She was really quite strong and I don’t think the young boy wanted to mess with her.
I was trembling and obviously very upset, but happily my tour and my life could continue.“Despite this episode, Ganguly had a memorable debut show by which he'd carry on to score two of his 16 Test hundreds and began a career that will culminate in him leading India to a Champions Trophy and the ICC World Cup final in 2003.