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  Chappell mail : Some foods for thought

Major portions of Chappell' mail discussed here are in dark black where as counter arguments are given in dark blue.
Happy reading ........

Mr Ganguly came to me following the recently completed tri-series of one-day matches here in Zimbabwe and asked me to tell him honestly where he stood as a player in my view. I told him that I thought he was struggling as a player and that it was affecting his ability to lead the team effectively and that the pressure of captaincy was affecting his ability to play to his potential.



When  a captain with five years of experience of leading the team , comes to a new coach of five months old and ask something "honest"-ly ( Chappell accept that in his word) regarding his batting , the immediate responsibility of Coach will be to show him the way to correct his batting . Bug Greg, such a megalomaniac because of his stature in Aussie cricket, he started making comments crossing his own limits as a coach. This sentence of Chappell clearly proves that Sourav Ganguly had the true intention to wriggle out of his batting lean phase and quite naturally he went to coach for suggestion. But Chappell blew the issue out of proportion and made an abnormal situation which could have been a very normal daily player coach discussion.



I also told him that his state of mind was fragile and it showed in the way that he made decisions on and off the field in relation to the team, especially team selection.

I also told Sourav that his nervous state was affecting the team in other ways as he was prone to panic during pressure situations in games and that his nervous demeanour was putting undue pressure on the rest of the team.


Yes, Mr. Chappell! You have your own set of opinions and so we have! We , Indians trust more such 'fragile mind' since that very 'mind' was instrumental behind 21 test victories . A historic Victory in Pakistan - India's first away from home in 11 years - made that 'mind' -- India 's most successful Test captain ever.

And in Australia under the stewardship of that 'mind'   leadership scaled new heights when a brilliant century by the owner of that 'fragile mind' in the opening test at Brisbane set the tone for the whole   series and provided much required confidence to whole team . When Such 'fragile mind' took over the captaincy after the match-fixing exposes in 2000, he quickly proved to be a tough, intuitive and uncompromising leader, traits best illustrated in the historic series against Australia in 2001 . The efficacy of that 'mind' reached to its crescendo when a splendid eight-match winning streak took team India all the way to the World Cup final in 2003 ; --   20 years after the victory of prudential cup !

 So …..! The 'mind' has proved his mettle for years.

First deserve, achieve his feats and then only desire to attack that' mind' Mr. Chappell.



His nervous pacing of the rooms during our batting in the final plus his desire to change the batting order during our innings in the final had also contributed to nervousness in the players waiting to go in to bat.



Sourav Ganguly is known in international Cricket for his aggressive stewardship. He is perhaps the first captain from India who took the cricketing world by storm for his tough, never-say- die demeanor! Even Sourav's staunch critics will find Chappell's this statement quite vague and out of sync! A nervous captain cannot become the most successful captain in the cricket history of a country with such a thumping success and records.



I was in the nets with other players when Sourav went in to bat, but the new ball had either just been taken or was imminent when I saw Sourav walking from the field holding his right arm……… I suggested, as had John Gloster, that we get some further tests done immediately. Sourav rejected these suggestions and said he would be 'fine'. When I queried what he meant by 'fine' he said he would be fit for the Test match. I then queried why then was it necessary to be off the field now. He said that he was just taking 'precautions'.



Just read through that part of Chappell's mail, anyone can understand that he was pressurizing Sourav deliberately. Later it was also proved when Sourav came back to India, that he was suffering from minor tennis elbow injury and doctors in India advised him to take rest. It is quite common that before any big match, if players get hurt in practice session, they generally take rest since nothing can heel the injured part better than giving that area an absolute rest. So Sourav's normal behaviour , the way Chappell took with a pinch of salt proves only a point that Chappell's conspiracy   got under its way then already.



After the loss of Kaif, Yuvraj and Karthik to the new ball, Sourav returned to the crease with the ball now around 20 overs old. He struggled for runs against a modest attack and eventually threw his wicket away trying to hit one of the spinners over the leg side.

The next day I enquired with a number of the players as to what they had thought of Sourav's retirement. The universal response was that it was 'just Sourav' as they recounted a list of times when Sourav had suffered from mystery injuries that usually disappeared as quickly as they had come. This disturbed me because it confirmed for me that he was in a fragile state of mind and it was affecting the mental state of other members of the squad.



Chappell is accusing Sourav that in front of a modest attack he threw his wicket, but what the other players did, especially the players Chappell did back! And based on his whims and fancies, he comes to the conclusion that once Sourav is cheekily out, so it is time for him to call the day! How ridiculous a person's judgment can be! Don't you feel that it is entirely a motivated, calculated ploy? Chappell has already under a fixed notion and his action only reestablished and reinforced that very notion which defies any logic, sense and sensibility!

Had the game of cricket been free from board politics, such a coach would have been asked to quit immediately, instead of being shielded by the men in authority! But this is India and we watch great Indian cricket circus!



I was so concerned about the affect that Sourav's actions were having on the team that I decided I could not wait until selection meeting that evening to inform him that I had serious doubts about picking him for the first Test


Our point is simple! Is Greg Confused? Is he sure of his roles and responsibilities? Is he a coach or selector? Even wild Akhtar has been tamed by Pakistan coach. The core role of any coach is to correct the faults of his players.



I explained that, in my view, I felt we had to pick Kaif and Yuvraj following their good form in the one-day series and that Sehwag, Gambhir, Laxman and Dravid had to play. He said that his record was better than Kaif and Yuvraj and that they had not proved themselves in Test cricket.



On the eve of first Test at Bulawayo , 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. Just in the entire episode, observe the sense of timing of Greg Chappell! Just before a test to initiate such an issue is tantamount to play with the morale of the team! Chappell has shown the audacity clearly to take over the role of coach-cum-selector. First time in the history of Indian cricket, a coach has asked a captain to step down.

 Like any sane person Sourav is correct because Yuvraj and Kaif may be successful in one day, but the nature of One day and test is vastly different and success in one type of cricket cannot be extrapolated to the other one. There are a plethora of example international cricket where one is very successful in ODI but not picked up in test because test match demands more maturity and experience.

A good example can be – Bivan in aussie side and Afridi for Pakistan . Both are formidable in ODI but they hardly get chance in test cricket.



At the completion of the Test match I was approached by VVS Laxman with a complaint that Sourav had approached him on the eve of the Test saying that I had told Sourav that I did not want Laxman in the team for Test matches………… I had told him that I did not see a place for Laxman in one-day cricket, something that I had discussed with Sourav and the selection panel and………. In each case the comments that Sourav has passed on to the individual are figments of Sourav's imagination. One can only assume that he does it to unnerve the individual who, in each case, has been a middle order batsman



Tell us Mr. Chappell , if a good performance in ODI( by Yuvraj and Kaif)  can be extrapolated to selection in Test match then why not your comment on someone like Laxman   on his non inclusion in ODI can't be extrapolated to Test match ! When something you say, it becomes correct and gospel truth; when same analogy is used by Sourav, it becomes wrong! Same scenario, same type of analogy and two different opinions! Why Greg, Sir?



Everything he does is designed to maximise his chance of success and is usually detrimental to someone else's chances



Even Sourav's biggest critic will feel very embarrassed; once he listens Greg's such irresponsible comment! Sourav Ganguly is revered amongst true cricket lovers for his rise-above-regionalism attitude and at the cost of his batting order, he promoted other players. A very big example is Sehwag. Sourav left his favourite opening slot to Sehwag and he came down himself to middle order. Though he is a man with golden arm, he for the greater interest of the team allowed regular bowlers to utilize their best potential. He stood thick and thin to his boys when they are in any trouble. Even he dared fighting the board for the interest of his boys! Yes! Sourav wanted to 'maximise' one thing and that was ---the success of his team! And the proof is: just from another any team, status Indian team has been converted to 'Team India'—a brand and force to reckon with.



Greg King's training reports continue to show Sourav as the person who does the least fitness and training work based on the criterion that has been developed by the support staff to monitor the work load of all the players……………


Let's take other views .This will tell you that Greg Chappell is not a cricket guru rather a guru of conspiracy.

Chairman of the English county team Glamorgan defended Sourav Ganguly few days back by saying the Indian captain worked hard on and off the field. Paul Russel, Chief of Glamorgan team for which Ganguly played last season, said "Ganguly is an outstanding professional who settled into the team and worked hard on and off the field.   "He always came to team practice in time and did whatever he was told to do so. He was very regular for training. I personally drove him to the gym when he had joined us."  

"I find what little I've seen of him that he's a very hard-working cricketer. Indian cricket legend Gavaskar opined. He continues by saying -" He likes to get into the nets and work at his batting and bowl in the nets, a lot more than perhaps do 20 laps of the ground or whatever that some other cricketers do"



We have also developed parameters of batting, bowling, fielding and captaincy that we believe embodies the 'Commitment to Excellence' theme that I espoused at my interview and Sourav falls well below the acceptable level in all areas…………..


The Australian talks about physical fitness and mental strength, but he is yet to understand the basic reason that make the game so popular in this country. Cricketers play it with all their heart, and fans follow it all their passion. This is what makes Indian cricket unique. It is less of calculated mathematics and more of blind faith. Australian rigour cannot be applied in same manner to Indian soil since the game sustains its attraction especially because of its star players and icons.

And if after scoring 15000 runs in both forms of game and being the most successful captain by miles in Indian cricketing history, if Greg says Sourav is not at par with his standard of excellence, then our point is – we only believe in such excellence which can ensure India's series win against Australia and Pakistan, heavyweights and also a final berth in the 2003 World Cup.



I can assure you sir that all my actions in this matter, and all others since my appointment, have been with the aim of improving the team performance toward developing a team that will represent India with distinctions in Test match and one-day cricket.


This team has been made to be fearful and distrusting by the rumour mongering and deceit that is Sourav's modus operandi of divide and rule. Certain players have been treated with favour, all of them bowlers, while others have been shunted up and down the order or left out of the team to suit Sourav's whims.



Chappell's accusations against Sourav Ganguly fell flat. For example, he has charged Ganguly with dividing the team to ensure he keeps the captaincy. Fact is anybody looking to extend his captaincy would work towards keeping everyone happy. A divided house only causes problems. Moreover, Ganguly (incidentally, our most successful Test captain) has been the architect of Team India as we've known it for the past few years. Why would he destroy it?


John Wright obviously allowed this to go on to the detriment of the team. I am not prepared to sit back and allow this to continue or we will get the same results we have been seeing for some time now…..


 Let us listen what Wright says : Greg has only been in the job five months and at the moment it doesn't look like (he and Ganguly) would go on holiday together," said Wright, who served Indian cricket for almost five years .

I always looked at it this way - the team was selected for me, whoever that was, with a captain, with a player. You didn't get a vote on selection but my job was to ensure that as coach they were prepared and performed to the best of their ability," he said, indirectly taking a swipe at Chappell's observation that Indian captain as well as some of the players did not deserve to be in the team.

"It was almost like performance coaching and I hope we made some progress over the four years I was there." said Wright, who helped India win series against Australia and Pakistan as also a final berth in the 2003 World Cup.




It is time that all players were treated with fairness and equity and that good behaviours and attitudes are rewarded at the selection table rather than punished………..



After almost 3 months of your mail, you have proved your statement wrong Mr. Chappell .

At every stage, you and your coterie differentiated Sourav Ganguly. You bend your rule as per your requirement in Ganguly issue .Time and again you have proved the saying: show me the man, I will show the rule .Indeed, you treated Ganguly with fairness and equity! Even losing his captaincy by an unsporting conspiracy, still Sourav maintained his calm and showed his interest to perform for the best intention of the team. You simply ignored him.


I can assure you of my very best intentions…………..



Yes, we are now quite sure of your 'best intention' .Last few months there is a hurricane over the Indian cricket and it was brought  in Indian soil  by none other but Greg Chappell. Instead of doing the core job , for the ' best intention' Mr.Chappell has poked his nose in so many non core activities that  new featurs like --anxiety, scepticism , miscommunication , off the field politics are looming large over Indian cricket . 'Best intentions' --indeed !


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