When Sourav Ganguly was held at gun point in London
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 happened during Ganguly’s first tour to England where he announced himself on the international stage by scoring a century on debut and finishing the series with two centuries in three matches with an average of 105.
It all took place when the legendary Indian captain had some free time and decided to go meet some family in Pinner along with Navjot Singh Sidhu from Cavendish in Piccadilly. In the book Beefy’s Cricket Tales in the chapter “Troubles in England”, he described exactly what transpired while he was travelling on the London Underground.
“I will almost always drive myself around when I’m in England now, after one of the most terrifying moments of my life travelling on the London Underground,” he wrote. “We got on the tube and set off towards Pinner. In our carriage there was a group of young teenagers, two boys and three girls, and they were drinking. We were sitting opposite them and I could see that one of them was looking at us while he was drinking his beer.”
He admitted that he didn’t get a “good feeling” about the group of youngsters and tried to look at other things but couldn’t help but noticing that they were getting restless and suddenly one lad finished his drink and threw the can at them.
Describing the situation at the time, Ganguly wrote, “I could tell he was looking for some kind of reaction. I didn’t want to get involved at all and I said to Sidhu to leave it alone. I picked up the can and put it to one side, at which point the young lad stood up and said to me, ‘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. I took my glasses off and threw them to the floor away from us, and got ready for whatever was to come.”
What ensured was a melee in which there were several punches thrown and things got ugly but even that couldn’t have prepared Ganguly for what was to happen thereafter.
“There were some punches thrown and, just as we got to a station, I pushed the lad and he fell over. He got up and the next thing I saw was a gun in my face. I thought, My gosh, this is it – my life is going to be over here on this train.”
Thankfully for Ganguly, one of the girls saved his life by taking the boy off the train.
“But then one of 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 shaking and obviously very upset, but thankfully my tour and my life were able to continue.“
Despite this incident, Ganguly had a memorable debut series in which he would go on to score two of his 16 Test hundreds and began a career that would culminate in him leading India to a Champions Trophy and the ICC World Cup final in 2003.