Melbourne, Dec 24: Long-time adversary Steve Waugh has turned full circle and is now a great admirer of Sourav Ganguly, now standing at the cusp of his 100th Test match.
"You don't have to like or dislike him. You have to respect him," said the former Australian captain whose run-in with his then Indian counterpart took up reams of home pages and hours of prime time on television.
"He's tough and has played for a long time. There are certain things that rub people up the wrong way but that's just him," Waugh added.
Ganguly is set to play the 100th Test of his career at the MCG on Boxing Day, having come to Australia with back to back hundreds in his 98th and 99th Test.
During the 2000-2001 series, Ganguly had infuriated Waugh by making him wait at the time of the toss; claiming to win tosses when he hadn't and launching a scathing attack on the Australian at the slightest provocation.
"I think there were times when he pushed it a bit far with the toss. It was not only myself. The match referee warned him a number of times not to do it and he continued to do it."
"That was a lack of respect. But that was his choice, fair enough. That's dead and buried now. But as a player he certainly is a very good player and it's a credit to him the way he has come back," he said.
"Being dropped as a captain, in Australia that's a death sentence but in India they give you a chance to get back into the side. He has fought hard to get back in there and he is probably batting as well as he has ever batted."
"That's great resilience, great resistance and that's a good example to the younger players."
"He's the type of bloke you would want to have on your side. When you see an Indian side with Ganguly in the line-up, you know it's game on."
Now in his probably the final tour of Australia, Waugh felt Ganguly would be difficult to dislodge and more determined than ever to leave the shores here with his reputation enhanced.
"It surely is going to be at the back of his mind. He would try very hard to leave a good impression. He scored a brilliant hundred in Brisbane in 2000-2003 and would like to score a lot of runs in the present series."