There’s something about Greg


Greg Chappell seems like a good bloke, albeit with some rough edges. I was very excited when he was first appointed as coach. Here was a guy with the betterment of Indian cricket at heart, and the wherewithal to make it happen. He realized what needed to be done to bring Indian cricket forward, was not afraid of confronting the so-called “Indian way” of doing things. And by all accounts, his presence (coupled with Dravid’s rise as captain) has improved the Indian side by leaps and bounds. He’s a thorough professional and has worked hard to instill the same values in his team.

Yet, every once in a while, he does or says something that makes me reconsider my assessment of him. The first sign was when, in that ill-fated email that he shot to the Indian board, he accused Ganguly of backing down from facing fast bowling. I understood and agreed with all the things he said in there, except for that one point. Trying to level such a charge against Ganguly, who has been on the international circuit for more than a decade and scored thousands of runs, was simply ludicrous. Then came the finger-pointing incident, which left a bad taste in the mouth. But again it was understandable, I reasoned, for Chappell is not the Gandhi kind to offer the other cheek when somebody slapped him. Instead he likes to hit back. A lapse in judgment where he let his emotions get the better of him, I concluded.

Now, on this Pakistan tour, he’s again irked many (mainly on the other side of the border) by questioning Akhtar’s action. He never did say that Akhtar was chucking, just that there was something fundamentally different about his action. Everybody knows that. It’s called hyper-extension of the elbow. Perhaps that’s what he meant, but he should’ve known how the press was going to interpret it. He’s lucky not to have landed in any trouble because of it. Akhtar’s been cleared by the ICC, and that’s all that matters. Let’s move on.

And this brings us to the incident that prompted me to write this piece. In a recent interview, he emphatically proclaimed that “we don’t need a bowling coach.” All his “misdemeanors” so far didn’t have a negative effect on the team, at least not much, but this does. I wonder what his rationale for this is. Is he so close-minded as to not see what Troy Cooley did with a bunch of unknowns in the English team? Does he think Cricket Australia was stupid to snap Cooley up at the earliest opportunity? Were the Indian bowlers lying when they claimed that Bruce Reid was a big help to them in Australia? A lot of Indian bowlers, over the last few years, have shown quite a bit of promise but failed to deliver anything substantial. Surely, a bowling coach could help rectify that. Even if not (which I highly doubt), it wouldn’t hurt.

With modern sports, you need to snap on to every little bit of help you can get. The Olympic athletes who go to great lengths to increase their timing by a tenth of a second would certainly vouch for that. Australia realizes this, and that is one of the main reasons they’re way ahead of the rest. They were the first to realize the importance of fielding well (so much so that they’ve warned an exciting new batting prospect to improve his fielding if he wanted to make it to the Australian team) and that has played a big part in helping them dominate world cricket over the last decade. Now that other teams are catching up in that aspect, they’re looking for new ways to extend their lead. I think we’ll all come to rue ECB’s rank stupidity in practially gift-wrapping and handing over Cooley to them. Anyway, I’m digressing. The point is, Chappell needs to wake up and get in the necessary support act for the Indian team so that they can continue to ameliorate.


3 Responses to “There’s something about Greg”

  1. Amar Says:

    I concur on your bowling coach opinion.

  2. Pratik Says:

    Siddhartha Vaidyanathan expresses a similar opinion:

    But Amit Varma probably captures it best, and provides an explanation: it’s not always black and white

  3. jorski Says:

    this is groovy.

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