September 29, 2005

Chappell shackled in slog overs, but target daunting for Ganguly

By H Natarajan

The face-off between a revolutionary coach and a rebellious captain was far too complex, corrosive and complicated for a simple solution.

Greg Chappell was first let down by the captain with a disclosure of a confidential matter to the media. Then he was betrayed by a high-ranking BCCI official who leaked his confidential report to the media – the prime reason for the escalation of a problem. And finally the Review Committee Meeting (RCM) concluded that his allegation about the captain faking injury is “far from truth.” Bluntly put, Chappell has been damned a liar, though it was sugar coated as communication lapse.

It’s difficult to comprehend Chappell desperately wanting to hang on to a job where his integrity has been questioned so unambiguously and so publicly and his position as a coach so painfully compromised. Ganguly, too, could not have emerged out of the meeting very happily as he would expected much more from the committee to help redeem his tarnished image. Which is why one feels there could be possibly more to the ‘compromise’ than what’s made public.

After the RCM, Ranbir Singh Mahendra proclaimed loftily the progressive intentions of taking Indian cricket forward: “Performance will be the criteria.” And all along, like fools, we believed that was the case!

The criteria will also be applicable to the coach, he added. Does that mean Chappell’s contract could be in the shredder before it runs the course (till the 2007 World Cup) if his performance drops below acceptance levels?

"We have demarcated the difference in roles between the captain and coach. The captain has to control the game. The coach has to do his own job,” said Ranbir. What exactly is the coach’s job still remains in the realms of mystery.

The media conference was yet another farce that left more questions unanswered. Chappell’s diatribe were apparently replied point by point by the captain, but mediapersons got no official explanation of the rebuttals. What did the captain say in his defense about accusations of destabilising the team, putting personal interests over the side, spreading rumours, driving a wedge between the players and coach, showing undue favouritism, perpetuating divide and rule policy by restoring to canard, assuming a position of unaccountability, running scared of fast bowling and creating panic within the team? What happened to Gregory King's training reports that, Chappell claimed, continued to show Ganguly as the person who does the least fitness and training work of the specific workloads assigned to the players? Who were the other members whose “attitude” Chappell expressed “serious reservations” about in his e-mail? The media and the rest of the country are as clueless after the meeting as they were before its start.

The mood of the country could be judged by the nationwide polls – and one lost count of the numbers – which overwhelmingly sided with the coach. The nation was angered at the accusations and had every right to get convincing explanations. The accusations were public and both Chappell and Ganguly deserved to defend themselves in public and not gagged into leading tarnished lives. Ganguly is not the kind who will keep quiet forever. An enterprising publisher could get him to spill the beans after his retirement. And it would only be a matter of time before Chappell, too, takes the same route to come up with a book that could be even more juicer.

Chappell, meanwhile, has not exactly emerged faultless. Two passages in his e-mail showed him in poor light: his attempt to ascertain from team members “what they had thought of Sourav's retirement” and his dig at his predecessor’s man management. Both were uncalled for. Little did Chappell realise while lampooning John Wright that in spite of all that was possibly going on during his tenure, the players had good words for him and the inevitable dressing room differences did not degenerate into ugly, public spat. In contrast, players and the manager apart, the team physio, too, refuted one of Chappell’s claims against the captain. Which shows that Chappell has not ascertained facts and/or that his mind is so prejudiced against the captain that it easily accepts anything negative.

If Chappell’s allegations were right, Ganguly had to go. If his accusations were false, Chappell had to pack up. There could not have been a compromise given the gravity of the charges.

Kapil Dev was banned for a Test because he was perceived as having played a stroke that was unwarranted in the given situation. That ban cost him one Test – the only one that he missed in his career spanning 131 Tests over 15 years. I wonder what his thoughts are looking at the manner accusations far more serious than his own have been swept under the BCCI carpet.

At the end of it all, the inference of the BCCI president’s comments suggests that Chappell is a liar and media the biggest culprit. The impression one gets is, to take Indian cricket forward, the coach, captain and the players should stay away from the pariahs of the fourth estate. The efficacy of the gag is evident from Ganguly’s rebuttal to Chappell’s broadside finding its way in some newspapers.

Progressive teams around the world answer every query of media in the most honest manner possible. Players are available for interview through prior arrangement with the media manager and not because of personal equations and/or clout of the paper/magazine/channel they represent. The media is seen as an important organ of the game and transparency is seen as a vital cog in the wheel.

The brokered ‘peace treaty’ could be a door for Ganguly to make a dignified exit. If he is unable to deliver the goods as a batsman and captain in the forthcoming home series, it could be the end of his international career. The pressure on Ganguly to deliver will be monumental, far greater than the pressure on Chappell. And if recent events are any yardstick to go by, Ganguly has looked visibly more fragile than the coach. It would be a pity, real pity, if a champion one-day batsman and a captain who gave Indian cricket a refreshingly new direction in world cricket, has to bid farewell in this fashion, watching the destruction of an edifice that he built with passion.

Indian cricket is at a new low - a coach under siege, a captain under debris of allegations, a team polarised and plummeting. Even interest in television rights has fallen. Subhash Chandra chairman of Zee Telefilms that is in the fray to gain cricket telecast rights, said: “I hope I don't get it now. People are disappointed with cricket. It's TRP ratings fell to 300-odd during the Sri Lanka series and further to only 60 during the recently concluded Zimbabwe series.”

This is certainly not the end of the imbroglio. If the Pawar faction comes to power, things will radically change for Ganguly. Politics has given him a fresh lease of life to him, but politics could swiftly end that lease if the balance of power swings in the elections that will follow.

The Chappell-Ganguly fracas is undoubtedly a watershed in Indian cricket. Suffice to say, Indian cricket will never be the same again – one way or the other.


At 4:27 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

why do we get into post mortems when the body still breathes? mebbe its only a false dawn for the game, but a 'live'comatose state is preferable to live burial. There's always hope. Yes, the fact is that this truce may mean nothing. Nobody can run a race looking over their shoulders, and the pressure is bound to be humongous, especially on Ganguly, coz his performance has a measuring tape more rooted in the here and now than GC. Also Saurav's performance, in the short run, will depend entirely on one man:himself, while GC knows he has at least 10 ppl batting for him.
If the Team loses, he can always blame the captain. If the team wins and the captain doesnt contribute with the bat(the only physical measure )of his contribution, he can always say SG doesnt decerve a place. So gangs now has to win, has to score, and has to ensure the team gells. Which, if u look at it, is how a cricket team is mentored. For me, Cricket is the only game where the Captain is more impf a game much more than the back room captain, which is what the coach is. In fact, I believe a coach is an oxymoron in modern Cricket, as his job isn't to 'coach' international sportsmen, but to manage their skills, mentor them and arrive at a consensual goal. He will be more a cricket manager who will use the services of batting and bowling consultants. His job is to take the metal he has and mould it...not ask for beauxite or manganese.

At 5:19 pm, Anonymous kj surdsworth said...

Only Adam lost all when he chewed the apple,
Biting the bait of BCCI, now it is also Greg Chappel
He thought he would coach freely
Not knowing he would face Gangoogly
Before recovering and saying Mama Mia,
Came another stab from Jagmohan Dalmiya
Perplexed, was it peace or war
Said Ranbir, "Just one minute, yaar"
Take heart Greggie, we know you are a man not wearing chudiyan,
These things happen only in India

KJ Surdsworth

At 6:54 pm, Blogger OodlesOFMe said...

Finally a blog worth reading.Interesting Commentary on the current sports scene.Shall be back for more.
best wishes

At 12:49 am, Blogger Bombayite said...

hi natty,
hope you have managed to learn posting pics on the blog... looking forward to see your sports pics..

At 3:27 am, Blogger ravesports said...

Hi Natty,

A good analysis of the current imbroglio that Indian Cricket finds itself in !!

And our so called Indian cricket administrators had no mean part in all of this. How many of them understand their cricket anyway, and they get away bowling throws and beamers in the form of email leaks, and there is no one to call them not even a Venkat, a Gavaskar, or Shastri, Kapil dev, Srikanth.. no they are not the cricketers or umpires of Indian Cricket, but it is the Ranbirs, Dalmias, Nairs et al that raise their finger or call the cricketing shots !! Very soon they would usurp the role of Chief Justices etc the way the matters are being decided in their meetings.

What a sorry state that Indian cricket has been reduced to ??!! And to think that there were the Rajinder Goels, Shivalkars, and V V Kumars who inspite of their countless, priceless wickets on flat beds, toiled silently withoutgetting a place in the team. And here we have a spinner who castigates a legend in public, and is not bothered that he gets some wickets in only every tenth match he plays !! I for one seriously doubt whether this spinner would get wickets in Mumbai's Harris shield or Kanga league matches more than 2 decades ago.

On the national scene there is a serious dearth of talent and nothing exemplifies this more than Mumbai cricket. Where is the talent overflowing from the maidans ??

It would be interesting for some statistician to compile as to what level of cricket these administrators have played at all. Anyone of them, game for a round of galli cricket ?? I am sure that the kids on our block in those days would put them to shame. Why even some of our parliamentarians would easily win hands down with the Board minions.

Yes we badly need a radical change in the way the game is run in this country. It is time that cricketers take the reins and they too would administrate the game better. Surely we can have better people speak on world wide chnnels and media for Indian cricket than these jokers. Once Mohinder called the selectors jokers, but we all know now that who holds the puppets' and jokers' strings. Surely it was one those plugs that were pulled to cause the email leak.

But then which Indian sports does not suffer from very much the same ailments ?? Well this is another topic that can take up the whole blog itself..

Anyway I shall keep logging and Happy Blogging to everybody on Sportizens !!

At 11:40 am, Blogger Srinath Rao said...

good one natty..
I am sure ganguly will prove himself once again when all he really wud had been dreaming of was to captaining india till 2007 WC & then taking care of his restaurant.. anyways I am sure ganguly will fire & fire hard to wipe off all the allegations thrust upon him by a so called 'professional' greg chappel who for all we know did backstab ganguly by first sending the email & then declaring in front of the media that he is prepared to work with ganguly & he has nothing against him.

to all those who feel greg was hard done by in this episode pls note that greg is yet to prove his credentials as a coach.let him do that first & then we can talk.


At 12:12 am, Blogger Angshuman Sarkar said...

Nice article. In one of SU post, I mentioned that only GC's version has been in public and since the defence's vesion was never known, it has put the SG is the worst possible light. I think this is very unfair, and only turnished SG's image, the captain of their national team, infront of the entire nation! So I am not surprised at the results! SG has always been the bad boy! GC is his book on coaching had written how a coach's job is to help players with their minds, as cricket is a mind game! I don't think by his act he has helped a player anyway! He has acted exactly opposite to what he preached, and playing a different mind game!
One of the fact that I think of: How many times has media utterred the word "Vision for Team India" in relation to Greg! Is it Greg's vision or the countries? He marketted that to get his job! A player gets to play for his country, on the first account that he wants to play for his country and eligible based his cricketing abilities on field! For a coach, it ain't anything about nationalism, its a profession, a job! Of course the job involves ethics, but the basic fact remains that the job is mainly for
the money. That he wanted the job badly was known 5 years back, when he had just taken charge of South Australia team and yet was eyeing the highest paying cricketing job! He bid for the job again this time! Because he had a vision for India??? Because while he was still the coach for SA, he was still thinking about how he can take India to a different level? He wanted the money and BCCI was looking for people, he made his pitch! Simple! The presentations for the coach's selection and vision statements are typical marketting swipes any corporate does. Not that I am trying to defend SG, because I think he has nothing to offer to India as a cricketer! So he has to go. Simple as that! But I am not favoring Greg just because his vision for India (???) or because he was a great player (not someone like Vishy mind you, remember Trevor Chappel incident), or because he is a hard talking aussie, because he can not lie (??) or because he has no motive (???) ... If he was right on all accounts, then inspite of BCCI calling him a liar and saying what he wrote aint correct (indirectly), why is he still here? He was at fault on many accounts and he knows it well too.
I wonder, if you would put your piece in paper tomorrow, only the parts about Greg's mistake, what would the poles show? ;)


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