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   Confession of Greg Chappell ..

Let’s start

I should start with a very honest confession -- In cricket, fans have seen a natural stroke-maker in Sehwag, a natural swing bowler in McGrath and even a natural maestro in Sachin. Never before, they have seen an Indian captain as naturally gifted and flamboyant as Ganguly.

Yes don’t be surprised! I am Greg Chappell --- in a quite normal mental state I am accepting the very fact. No need to explain it further since all statistics back my statement.

Then whole world will ask me –why Greg! Why, are you at loggerhead with Sourav?

My simple reply is –I had no option!

My past

Let me tell you some more.

Greg Chappell has never coached a successful side. My record with South Australia was woefully pathetic. Not only that, my stint as the batting advisor to the Pakistan team was cut short by the authorities. In Australia, I have never been given an opportunity to coach the national side! It hurts my ego very badly.

It is not possible to touch super legendary figure Don. But it is just not acceptable that Border and Steve will overtake my fame!! No way!

Moreover, in a triangular series final against New Zealand at Melbourne, I asked my younger brother Trevor Chappell to bowl underarm in order to prevent the last batsman from hitting a six. Australia won the match but I was branded a villain for bending the rules of the gentleman's game. Trevor was so repentant that he left Cricket for good.

After the match, I regretted for my action and years later confessed that I was 'mentally unfit' that night. It badly tarnished my reputation.

Yes all these had accumulated in my heart for a long time .I wanted very badly to get an opportunity to retaliate.

My mission

Let’s get back to Ganguly issue. I am really indebted to Sourav. I was appointed mainly due to the good word put in by Ganguly, Dravid and Sachin.  With Ganguly I have shared a great rapport over the years.

Ganguly had asked for help to counter the Aussies during India's tour to Australia in 2003.yes, I gleefully offered Sourav tips on how to counter McGrath & Co. The very fact that Sourav struck a memorable century at Brisbane, I had some contribution and it really made the relationship even stronger. All I did, with a single mind focus –to become Indian coach after 2 years.

Let me tell you more. Why should I have preferred Indian Side for Future coaching? The simple answer is that I wanted a very quick return of investment of my effort as a coach .Who can offer a better deal than Indian side? It has already been moulded into Team India – a great team. I accept that Sourav deserves applause for that.

But I didn’t want to be the second fiddle; behind the curtain man, like John Wright. Because that will not serve the purpose! I wanted to reply Aussies, wanted to tell them that Greg Chappell should not be thrown into oblivion.

My start as coach in India

So I wanted a total clout over Indian team. Prima facie, it is not possible till the time the biggies of the side rules the roost .After joining as coach first thing I did that I read the mindset of team. The most revered name is definitely Sachin .I though I should start my “operation megastar” with Sachin. I took a dig at Sachin Tendulkar early on even before even meeting the little champion by indicating that he was past his prime and not the same player anymore .

It was a miscalculation. In India Sachin is a demi god, cult figure across region.  I had to change my stance when I was pressed on the issue by media. I realized that I had overstepped my boundaries, but I blamed the media for twisting my comments.

By that time I had understood that Sachin is not a big factor because he is more concerned with his performance and not very proactive in team dynamism. So I coaxed the media by calling Sachin as ‘mentor’.

I read Rahul well. He is very disciplined and committed to the game, a typical good- boy- in-class kind of. He became my choice for my operation.

Operation Sourav

Yes, operation! Operation Sourav! Because I read the graffiti well in advance. If Sourav is captain, I simply have no chance to steal the limelight. He is already the most successful Captain of Indian cricket history .Any further laurel will only glorify his achievements further and everybody will accept that success is because of Saurav’s captaincy .I can’t allow that .

Let me accept few facts --- I have never seen such a gutsy Indian skipper so far! And Sourav’s command over team was phenomenal! Every one will accept that he is the real maker of team India. He took the side first time above petty regional issues and result –players like Irfan from Baroda, Dhoni from Ranchi , small cities . He has great fan followers in the team. If Zahir , Harbhajan , Juvraj  are open in support then so many do  silently . I know the reason. Sourav in all the occasions, stood strongly behind his boys –a very rare quality! He led the side very courageously from the front. His sharp man management acumen also bowled me!  Boys respect comes naturally as a result. But all his qualities go against my ploy! So I had no option but to start my game head on with Sourav.

Sourav was also recently suffering from bad patch -- quite common in cricket. Except Bradman, every cricketer went and goes through it off and on. But I had to start my action plan rolling very fast and I took this as my first salvo of attack. I started highlighting this again and again inside team and made performance criteria the biggest yardstick for selection. 


First I targeted Sourav’ close allays—Zahir , Yuvraj and Harbhajan .I took up the case of indiscipline against them .I started playing much known ‘divide and rule’   . For eg , the case of Yuvraj Singh clearly displayed just how divided Team India had become in such a short time. Yuvi had a tiff with me during the tri-series in Sri Lanka clearly indicating his place was in danger, Yuvraj hit back with a century in the crunch game against the West Indies. The manner of his celebration and finger pointing at the pavilion clearly indicated it was meant to show someone in the dressing room that he couldn't be counted out and who else could it be but Chappell, the person I was in dressing room! I waited and observed.

On the eve of first Test at Bulawayo, I, Greg Chappell, apparently asked Sourav Ganguly in a closed door meeting in presence of Vice-captain Rahul Dravid that he didn't fit into the team composition and that Yuvraj and Kaif should be given a chance. Dravid stood by the captain as he felt it was not the right time to bring up the issue.

That day I had clearly taken over the role of coach-cum-selector.

Ganguly had to rely on Dravid to bail him out, it's the first time in the history of Indian cricket that a coach has asked a captain to step down. Where from I got so much confidence and audacity? I will tell you soon.

          Cleverly disguised inside this move was my agenda of nudging out some of the biggest names in Indian cricket. But I could not avoid the inevitable.  It all blew up into a big mess in Zimbabwe when Sourav made it public!

So.!   The battle was on ….. ! Operation kick started! The relation took a bad, sharp downhill slide.

Other points

Meanwhile I decided to select Bangalore my place in India for staying. Again it was a calculative ploy since Rahul also hails from same city and already I made my mind over Rahul as the next captain. So it was necessary to develop a great rapport with Rahul off the field as well. I started projecting myself as his friend, philosopher and guide. I saw my plan was rolling well. I was sure that he would remain through out a deputy in his career. Previously he was deputy of Ganguly and next he would be of Greg!  Ha ha! His goody image and demeanor never allows him to become a leader.

So …. ?   I foresee the writing of wall –Greg chappell is the de facto captain of Team India – a readymade, well shaped team I will get from Sourav. Yes, I want to be the first non playing captain in cricket history. Am I sounding crazy?! So be it.

Sachin is father figure and so project him as mentor .Rahul is docile, already mesmerized by me and will listen all my words, as I inebriated him with liquor of Indian captaincy.  After all, Rahul is also a human being .Time is running away and he also cherished the dream of leading team India. My plan and actions are matching.

So...Operation Sourav is in full throttle.

The media started its hullabaloo over Sourav –Chappell spat so much so that board arranged for a temporary truce between Sourav and me. But I can’t digest since it is against my game plan!

You Indians!

Now, let me allow a little digression. Few months stay in India really mesmerized me. So much diversity is in its culture and opinion! It’s more like a continent with so much of heterogeneity. I used this heterogeneous crowd in my favour.

I got few really good friends in different key positions in Indian cricket to make my plan successful.  Kiran More as chairperson of selection committee , Ravi Shastri as ex cricketer and now commentator and a section of board and  media from South and West . I just picked all their individual issues to my advantage. Because I believe that enemy’s enemy is my friend!

I know very well that as cricketer Ravi Shastri and More do not figure anywhere near hundred miles of Ganguly. Sourav’s illustrious career and success coupled with their parochial regional feelings made them green eyed. We made the trio and Rahul became obviously the part of this junta. By that time I brainwashed Rahul a lot. So his allegiance shifted to me from Sourav as I allowed him to dream himself as 2007 world cup winning Captain.   Ravi’s shouting against Sourav gained further momentum in commentary box and Kiran More started playing the dirty game in selection process .Deccan media smelled that there is a chance for sun of the soil and started spitting venom against Sourav’s bad patch. Truly luck was also not in Sourav’s side that time. And it was my time.

Let me tell you one thing --- I heard that British people ruled India for 200 long years by applying simple ‘divide and rule’ policy .And today after so many years same rule is so powerful in India! I just followed those British only! The rest all you know. Old habits really die hard! It is so easy to disintegrate Indians even today!

My E mail

Anyway, let’s get back to the subject. I did not accept the truce and I wrote an e-mail to board complaining and doubting against Sourav’s efficacy as performer and captain. I said in e-mail that Sourav Ganguly doesn't take practice session seriously and his apparent injury scare during India's practice game at Bulawayo just before the first Test when the captain retired due to pain in his arm was all made up by him given the fact he refused to go for a scan and came out to bat later. Indian captain does not follow the fitness regime prescribed.

I gave several reasons for skipper Sourav Ganguly's exit. I alleged that Ganguly has been creating divisions in the team to keep his crown and often feigns injury. I told also that the Indian captain has lost the confidence and respect of his team mates, aspects which are important for a captain. Finally I also threatened to quit if the captain is not changed.

Side by side I was doing whispering campaign that if India has to do well in the 2007 World Cup in West Indies, Ganguly must be done away with and a new captain must be appointed in his place as soon as possible. A section of media and all my previously mentioned friends backed me greatly to strengthen the point.

Then came twist in the tale and the mail got leaked to media! Blessings in disguise for me since Sourav at the threshold of patience made a remark to Bengali daily by saying, "I have heard about the mail. I will say whatever I have to the Board. I hope the Board will give me a chance to explain." An angry Ganguly was further quoted as saying, "You can imagine the character of a person who within hours of a truce goes and writes such an email."

And he defended quite bravely his points in front of BCCI review committee! He should defend because I knew that my points were not strong enough. Thanks to my friend Ravi. He tried to put Sourav in embarrassing state in front of review committee but Sourav came out victorious.

All in fate!

But Sourav’s pain in his arm became succor for me! Really luck was not in Sourav’s side! He could not play Challenger trophy and Rahul was selected captain for first two matches against Sri Lanka! It was a celebration time for our junta .The operation Sourav is now running seamlessly. Kiran announced that to get back into side Sourav has to give proof of his fitness in domestic cricket .Sourav answered by playing an exceptional knock at  a green top Rajkot wicket . Meanwhile,

We did quite well against Sri Lanka in first two matches! Thanks to Tendulkar , Irfan and Dhoni ! You have saved my face. I was riding on luck since so many were getting back their forms!  We announced that for the interest of winning combination we will maintain the same side for rest 5 matches! So I kept Sourav out from Team India for 5 more matches! Victory of team India continued.

Let me share you a fact frankly. Much hoopla is being made about India whipping Sri Lanka 6-1 in a Home Series. Below is the Sri Lanka's Away Record since 2001.Matches: 64; Wins: 24    Win Percentage: 38.10! Abysmal! Thanks to the Indian media. They bypassed the fact.

Hide and seek in selection

So hide and seek game between selection committee and Sourav continued and board because of its election issue, remained just a spectator. Selection committee fast told fitness, then winning combination and then what not..! Even I felt at one point of time embarrassed with the way Kiran More behaved. We kept Sourav outside South Africa Series also. He was So far the most successful Indian player against South Africa.

Eden Match

Then there was Calcutta match against South Africa. For the first time in my life I witnessed how an entire city can back her son of the soil so spontaneously and so vigorously! Sourav’s popularity in Calcutta simply flabbergasted me! The entire time in Calcutta was a nightmarish experience for whole team. In fact most of the members were guilt ridden because of absence of Ganguly. Even they could not think of playing at Eden without their “Dada”. Nothing went right that very day .May be grass of Eden also cursed us that day. We were trounced by 10 wickets! Complete rout!  Extra addition: Jeer of Crowd all through!

By that time Dravid has turned into a villain to crowd.  He became jittery. I showed my support immensely to him to boost my pawn of play. Now we have come to we-are-on-same-boat-brother status. Somehow we saved our face by a 2-2 draw in the series.

Sourav back and our ploy

Meanwhile change of Guard in BCCI and Sourav got selected in test squad. It was quite impossible to keep him out from test squad. Because in last test he had a century as captain and for the first time Indian side won a series in Zimbabwe by flat 2-0 margin. Kiran tried but I knew he would be in team. Chennai test got washed away. I started to show some supportive gesture to Sourav.  I hailed Sourav Ganguly's role in the team. "Like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav has a role to play as mentor in the team; Chappell also expressed satisfaction with Ganguly's form in the Test series against Sri Lanka. Even I added: "I am happy with his form and some good scores will bring back his confidence."

In Delhi test at Kotla he played two timely knock of 40 and 39 against Sri Lanka and we won the test. It may not be great score but if anyone considers the knocks at the time of requirement, then both are valuable since with Sachin in first innings and with Yuvraj in second innings Sourav stopped the down slide of batting.

But I saw the alarming signal .My long experienced cricket sense warned me that Sourav is coming back into form .Kiran and I decided that –now or never! If we allow him in Ahmedabad test he might score big and then our luck would be sealed. Rahul had silent consent.

Team was announced after Delhi test and Sourav was not there .this time the entire India erupted in rage! I was stunned by the popularity of Sourav in the entire nation! He truly galvanized the country through his Team India! Media also joined hand with crowd and it took a mass hysteria for a single man!! Mind-blowing!

I felt sorry for Rahul as our action tarnished his image to his countrymen. And because of our hasty decision, we made Sourav a real hero! I did not expect that. Let’s face the reality. It was a defeat of our junta.

Pakistan series

Finally Sourav is again back in squad for Pakistan tour because of Pawar play. I showed my resistance all through in selection process. But BCCI intervened in selection in round about way .Still my fight will continue for my cause. Let me accept that I want to be rich as coach. Yes money matters and everybody knows that Indian cricket board is the richest board in the world. Second point already I discussed. I want to answer Aussie media.

I have already some ploys for Sourav in Pakistan. To ensure that he can’t perform well in Pakistan, our junta has taken some decisions .If one plan does not work the other plan will follow. . We will constantly attack his mental equanimity.  We know that Sourav was anxious because of his uncertainty over selection in Pakistan tour. He did not play against Gujarat in Ranji match .Kiran capitalized that issue and made hue and cry .We together enforced that he should play one domestics match before leaving for Pakistan. Kiran publicly says that the decision has been taken to keep players in practice before a tough tour. But in reality we discussed that definitely it will be a disadvantage for Ganguly since he will not get any practice in Pakistan soil before first test .it is very critical to get accustomed to ambiance of the away soil. We successfully restricted that for him.  More importantly he will play against Tamilnadu bowlers and then directly in front of Shoib Akhtaar! I Next plan is to send him for opening .Fresh morning green top wicket with dew, totally new ambiance, no practice in Pakistan soil and as opener Sourav is in wicket against fresh Akhtaar who is in form! 

I just cherish the scene! 

I am sure Sourav is a human being after all.  It is very difficult to perform under such humongous pressure created by our junta .Still I appreciate his resilience what he had shown in last three months. I accept the fact in private that Sourav isa born fighter .But I am sure he will fail in Pakistan series.

Even after all these hindrance created by us if he can perform, I will call him superman!

Do I sound sadist? If so, let it sounds. I am Chappell, Greg Chappell and I have the license to call the shots in Indian cricket. The days of dada-giri are over and now Greg Chappell will dictate Team India.

Reflective mood:

When I am in reflective mood, I feel bad for Sourav. He just became a scapegoat to my ploy and ego. Yes let me accept frankly that I have a big ego. You can even call me megalomaniac. And I know Sourav is having ego as well. Two lions can’t share the same forest .one has to go. Even you consider us zodiac wise I am Leo –high ego and Sourav Cancer –crab like perseverance. Coincidentally our birth day even makes us opposite! I was born on 7th aug (7/8) and Sourav 8th July (8/7)!

So fight between 7/8 and 8/7!!

Have I achieved as Indian coach something great so far? No! Not really. I have already told you the performance of Sri Lanka in away soil. They simply maintained their dismal performance in India. And I gained out of that and media made me hero as a coach. With South Africa I had a tough time. Twice we buckled under pressure and made a score below 200! Phew!

Ominous sign for batting! Two three players actually were hiding others failure. Actually ball is now in my court. A tough tour of Pakistan is coming and it will be my real litmus test.

Future ahead

Though I am talking about 2007 World Cup Victory and Kiran More and media are dancing in same tune, in reality it’s a tough job. Sourav’s Team India reached to Final in last world cup. So anything below that will be counted as failure! I am aware of that .Only world cup victory can prove that Greg’s team is better than Sourav’s team.  It’s a very uphill task.

I have no faith in Kiran More or Ravi Shastri .If they can back stab their best captain and countrymen so easily then they can do anything to me!

Sachin and Pawer have supported Sourav by nullifying all allegations against him.

I feel that I have to go cautious now .Because my team’s performance will always be benchmarked against that of Sourav-Team India irrespective of presence or absence of Sourav in team.

I accept

Sourav is fighting against all odds where as I am against him with all supports! No level playing field is provided to him.

Greg! Is it   really cricket-ly for your image? I sometimes brood over this issue.

Perhaps at this ripe stage of my life, Sourav Ganguly has become nemesis of rest of my cricketing life!

* Disclaimer :: This is a fictitious confession of Cheppell and has no connections with reality 



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