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What he said:
“It was so hierarchical, it made Australian teams look like commune.”
Former India coach, Greg Chappell reveals the bureaucratic nature of the Indian dressing room during his tenure.
Chappell, in his autobiography “Fierce Focus,” salutes current Indian skipper, MS Dhoni, as his “go-to man” and the voice of young players.
The Australian maintains that the young players were overawed by their seniors and would not contribute in team meetings for fear of incurring their (seniors) displeasure.
“The real ray of hope for the Indian team was Mahendra Singh Dhoni, one of the most impressive young cricketers I’d ever worked with. He was smart, and able to read the game as perceptively as the best leaders," Chappell wrote.
If I wanted to know what was going on in the middle, Dhoni became my go-to man. He would eventually break down one of the biggest problems in the India teams.
…the youngster would say, ‘I can’t speak before so-and-so. If I speak up before a senior player, they will hold it against me forever.’ Some were petrified, flat out refusing to say a word in a meeting before, say, Tendulkar had spoken.
Chappell elaborates on his relationship with Saurav Ganguly, the stormy petrel of Indian cricket.
His idea was probably ‘you scratch my back, I scratch yours’.
He expected I would be so grateful to him for getting me the job that I’d become his henchman in his battle to remain captain. I, on the other hand, took on a job with the primary responsibility to Indian cricket and the Indian people.
There were a billion of them and only one of Sourav. I wanted to help India become the best cricket team in the world.
If that means eventually they could only become that team without Sourav, then so be it.
Chappell adds,that on the field, "there was no bigger panicker than Sourav."
Chappell is none too pleased with Indian players aversion to confrontation:
When I sat down and talked with him about it, he would agree to everything I asked, but then go his own way. Some other senior players were similarly expert at Gandhian passive resistance: saying ‘Yes yes yes’ before doing the exact opposite. Each time he agreed, then didn’t do it.
What Greg Chappell really meant:
“Indian bureaucracy was truly alive and kicking in the national cricket side.”
What Greg Chappell definitely didn’t say:
“Now, you know why us Ozzies love visiting Goa.”