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Yeh hi hai right choice...
by Gulu Ezekiel
May 21, 2005
It is easy to be cynical about the appointment of Greg Chappell as the new coach of the Indian cricket team. However, it is a decision that should be universally welcomed.

The only Indian among the candidates, Mohinder Amarnath - ever the gentleman - has congratulated Chappell and said that he has taken the decision in his stride. That should pave the way for Chappell to take over without any rancour.

The anti-“gori chamri” (white skin) brigade which had been campaigning on a platform of nationalistic pride are way off the mark.

In today’s globalised world where national boundaries have ceased to matter, the colour of someone’s skin or his nationality have no place in rational thinking. Indeed, every single cricket playing country, save for the mighty Australians currently have or have had sometime in the immediate past a coach from outside their country.

It is ironical that Greg’s elder brother Ian - both former captains - has been one of the foremost critics of the concept of a cricket coach. One of the finest cricket minds of all time, in this aspect at least ‘Chappelli’ (as he is known) is wide off the mark.

The current Indian team unanimously favoured a coach from abroad, thanks to John Wright’s success and from the very start Chappell had been the favourite.

Chappell is undoubtedly one of the all-time legends of cricket. Since his retirement in 1984, he has been involved in coaching. Theoretically, at least, he is masterly as his latest book on coaching and his website will demonstrate it. However, his short stint coaching teams in Australian domestic cricket was not a success.

Where Chappell essentially differs from Wright is that unlike the New Zealander (forever dubbed by the Indian media as “the quiet Kiwi”) he has no intention of keeping a low profile. This should lead to some interesting scenarios in the next two years (he will be in charge till the 2007 World Cup), especially when it comes to selection matters.

Already Chappell has indicated he will make his views known aggressively to the selection committee, an area from where Wright (rightly or wrongly) decided to keep away. Like retired government officials, Wright, however, made his views on the issue clear once he had relinquished the post!

Chappell never had a chance to tour India. In 1969-70, he was considered too young by the chief selector Sir Don Bradman, who would later say that he did not want to expose Greg to world-class spinners in India!

When Australia toured next in 1979-80 under Kim Hughes, Chappell along with the cream of world cricket was still contracted to Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket and thus ineligible to play official cricket.

And by the time of the 1986 tour, he had retired from international cricket. Therefore there is no substance to the allegation that he ever avoided playing in India.

The Board has done well to make the appointment now when there is a lull in international cricket. It will give Chappell time to settle into the job. One can only hope and pray that he makes a success of it and guides India to glory in the 2007 World Cup. There is little doubt that he has the right credentials to do so.
 
More Views by Gulu Ezekiel
  Book Review - Eden Gardens: Legends and Romance
  Book Review: Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 2014
  Pankaj: Bengal's Forgotten Cricket Legend
  Book Review - My Journey to the World Cup: The Sky is the Limit
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