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!
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
After the match, I regretted for my action and years
later confessed that I was 'mentally unfit' that night. It badly tarnished
Yes all these had accumulated in my heart for a long
time .I wanted very badly to get an opportunity to retaliate.
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
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.
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
That day I had clearly taken over the role of
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.
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
battle was on ….. ! Operation kick started! The relation took a bad,
sharp downhill slide.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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