Virender Sehwag has worked wonders for Indian cricket but his latest service to the game in this country is perhaps his best.
Virender Sehwag has worked wonders for Indian cricket but his latest service to the game in this country is perhaps his best. He has got Greg Chappell to sever all ties with Indian cricket. Frankly no one will miss the former coach who with his divide and rule policy, his autocratic attitude, his alienating of the players under him and making them insecure and his doomed policy of experimentation destroyed the very fabric of Indian cricket.
In a knee jerk reaction to Sehwag's comments that he had betrayed the trust of the players by leaking information to the media and selectors and that he was not comfortable with the Australian, Chappell has been quoted as saying "I am not interested in India and Indian cricket. I am also not going to be associated with the Rajasthan Cricket Academy." The RCA had hired his services for its academy in Jaipur as a consultant.
The very fact that Sehwag has also spoken in praise of Gary Kirsten, Chappell's successor as coach hailing him as the ''best I have ever seen'' only underlines the fact that the South African has adapted himself better to arguably the most demanding job in world cricket. This is where he has succeeded where the more famous Australian failed. The same observation was made earlier by Rahul Dravid while comparing the roles of Chappell with that of his predecessor John Wright. Sehwag put it simply when he said that Kirsten "doesn't force things on you."
My own view has always been that Chappell failed in his role as a motivator and as an inspiring father figure. That is a coach's main role. Chappell was an unmitigated failure because he failed to adapt as Dravid conceded. Thanks to his abrasive approach the Indians tactically, technically and temperamentally were playing like losers. They went about their tasks like lost lambs in the great African jungle. But perhaps the most important reason was that they did not appear to be a happy lot. And why were the players not happy? Because the side had been tinkered with and there was a sense of insecurity among some of the team members. Because they had lost the winning habit and nothing was being done to revive it. Questions were asked openly and agitatedly. Was the coach doing his job effectively? Was he fulfilling his responsibilities? Was he being the guiding spirit a good coach is expected to be? Had he provided a touch of inspiration in keeping with his reputation as one of the giants of post-war Australian cricket?
It is a poor general who blames his troops for failure in battle and that is why it was becoming more and more tiring listening to Chappell's refrain ''They are not playing well enough'' - a totally irresponsible and utterly unacceptable line - following the World Cup debacle in the Caribbean. Chappell was taking the easy way out by putting the blame on the players. But had he done some introspection and asked himself some tough questions? Why was the team not playing well? Why were the players out of form for such an extended period? Why was the confidence level down?
Even after observing at close hand the shocking impact that the first round exit at the World Cup had in this country there was no sense of remorse in Chappell. Was he really aware of the grievous hurt that the Indian cricket follower felt about the debacle - a disastrous result for which he was mainly responsible? The manner in which he continued to shoot off his mouth on various issues concerning Indian cricket one was convinced that he was unaware of it and probably didn't care either. He continued to be unfeeling and arrogant as he was during his two-year tenure as Indian coach and there appeared to be no expression of regret. It was obvious that what he needed urgently was a crash course in public relations. And yet to the consternation of Indians there he was traveling around the length and breadth of the country, spelling out his 'gyan' and interviewing players on television - including Sourav Ganguly who did not hide his discomfiture.
Under the circumstances few will disagree with the view expressed by former Indian cricketer Madan Lal that ''if Chappell wants to go its fine. Nobody will miss him. He gave us nothing but controversies during his stint. As a coach you cannot have an inflated ego and that is where Chappell slipped up. Chappell was a manipulator who failed in man management skills and also tried to make players change their approach which is not recommended at this level. Indian cricket is much better off under Gary Kirsten.''
Ultimately results count and sans Chappell the Indian team is faring rather well these days. This is the final rebuff to Chappell.