Aaah. We get it at last. It’s the Indians who are at fault. They do not let Greg Chappell be honest. If this was in Australia, he could accuse the team captain of faking injury and happily insinuate that he clings onto his spot because he needs the money. Noone would ask for proof of his honest attempts at slander. It’s only in this blasted country that people take such things so seriously.
In an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN titled “I can’t be honest in India”, Greg Chappell lets his hair down and tells us his side of the story.
I think thatâ€™s mainly the difference. Every word, every nuance is treated so much more un-really in this country. In Australia you would say something and it would make a ripple. Here you say something and itâ€™s a tsunami.
Indeed. Down under, you can get away with smacking a naked man on his bottom with a bat and here you cannot even tend to your injured middle finger, that keeps somehow flipping up like an organ on a Viagra overdose, without offending the natives.
Wait there is more. Not only is he in his own words, “consistent and constant”, he also has a soft side.
Anuradha SenGupta: Do you have a soft side?
Greg Chappell: This is my soft side. The great thing about this job for me is that I am emotionally involved. And if I am not emotionally involved then I donâ€™t think I can do the job.
Imagine. If this was his soft side, how hard would his other side be. Greg Chappell then goes on to reveal other moments of great vulnerability when “he woke up in the middle of middle of the night with sweat running off his forehead, sort of sitting bolt upright in the bed, thinking it was real”. At that moment I swear I made a connection with Greg having had many such moments in my teenage years. Especially when “Dhak dhak karne laga” was Superhit No 1 on Superhit Muqabla.
Of course he has regrets.
I donâ€™t have a lot of time to try and mould the team, build the team. The group that I inherited had some senior players and we brought some younger playersâ€¦sort of trying to un-bake a cake and then try to put it back together again.
If only the man had more time than the two years he has got with the Indian team. If only he could have met Sourav earlier and advised him not to play badminton with Dona when he should be practising the hook shot. If only he could have told Yuvraj not to go for Kim Sharma and instead throw in his lot with Preeti Jangiani. If only he had changed Suresh Raina’s diapers.
If only he had.
India’s cricket team would then have been a shoo-in for the World Cup.
Not that there is anything to fear. The pitches in the West Indies will be low and slow —as we experienced seven months ago. Ideal for our flat track bullies.
But contrary to what the Indian think-tank had faced, a lot of water has flown under the bridge in the last seven months and will continue to do so for the next two.
There are reports that some of the venues have freshly laid pitches which are likely to help the seamers. Those that havenâ€™t been relaid, have been worked upon under the directions of Andy Atkinson, the International Cricket Councilâ€™s pitch expert.
Not one to take any chances, Cricket Australia recently packed off their teamâ€™s assistant coach for a 10-day tour of the venues where the Aussies are likely to play after the first round.
Dene Hills, the man on the job, met and spoke to officials incharge, including former pacer Andy Roberts.
Roberts, the chief curator at Antigua, has said that the playing strips will have more bounce and carry for the pacers and may offer little help to the spinners, which of course is directly opposite to what the Indian think tank presupposes.
Aah well. Who cares. At least not Niranjan Shah, Sharad Pawar’s efficient man Friday.
It is a scenario in which the Indian board should swing into action and send an official on a fact-finding mission. This will only ensure that the teamâ€™s preparation is heading in the right direction. But the suggestion was taken with a pinch of salt by board secretary Niranjan Shah yesterday.
â€œThis is the Australian and American way of doing things, it is not meant for us,â€ said Shah. â€œOur team had gone not very long ago and they are well versed with the conditions. I donâ€™t think itâ€™ll make a big difference. The tracks will be somewhat similar to what we saw at Chennai on Saturday.â€
Yes Mr. Shah. Being prepared, like spring-break and wet T-shirt contests, is the Australian and American way of doing things.
It’s not for us.
[Postscript: Tom Moody, Sri Lanka’s Austalian coach, is in the West Indies inspecting pitches.]
[Acknowledgements: Dravid-Chappell picture courtesy the Ganguly community on Orkut. ]