What will be Mr Chappell's priorities?

Written by: Suhrid Barua
Published: Tuesday, May 24, 2005, 16:27 [IST]
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Hullabaloo, intense speculation over who would be India's second foreign coach is over! Ever since BCCI declared they would finalize the process of having a new Team India coach by June 15, the Fourth Estate has gone on an overdrive.

Be it the print media or the electronic media or to some extent the web media; all were out with their full guns blazing; coming up with every bit of tidings almost everyday. It was like who could outsmart the other in their quest to be the first one to bring out on print.

With the cap being put to all the brouhaha over naming of Australian legend Greg Chappell as India's cricket coach; one wonders, had the board dragged its coach appointment feet, the cricket-frenzied media would have come up with a bigger list of names of former players as contenders than they had already done.

Names of Allan Border, John Emburey, Dean Jones, Dav Whatmore, Steve Waugh were consistently doing the rumour rounds. All that were given a decent burial with the shortlisting of Desmond Haynes, Mohinder Amarnath, Tom Moody, Sandeep Patil (who declined the invitation) and of course the ultimate choice-Greg Chappell.

Now that is 'madness called-Indian cricket'. It's this madness Greg Chappell would quickly have to adjust himself to.First and foremost, Chappell would focus his attention on captain Ganguly who has hit one of the biggest troughs of his glittering career. His batting efforts in the home series against Pakistan was uninspiring. Rubbing more salt to his hitherto battered wounds, the Behala lad was handed a six-match ban for his team's slow over-rate in the ODI series against Pakistan.

Ganguly's ban effectively means Chappell in his first coaching assignment during the tri-series in Sri Lanka in August, would have to do without the regular skipper. It's more or less certain that vice-captain Rahul Dravid would don the mantle of captaincy.

At best, Ganguly, can hope to be in action in the tri-series in Zimbabwe featuring Kiwis as the third team. There too, Ganguly can mark his return only in India's third game.

Whether Ganguly will return as skipper remains to be seen. Interesting to note that if Dravid-led India manages to win the Sri Lanka tournament; it would only present head-aching puzzles for the selectors.

Chappell's handling of Ganguly is significant. Will board mull on the lines of having a new captain along with a new coach so as to start things afresh. After all Ganguly had spent five years in the saddle and it might be prudent to opt for a change in leadership.

Chappell's second priority will be to see how Tendulkar can emerge as a more fluent batsman as we all know of him. No doubt; a master like Tendulkar needs no coaching pointers at this stage of his career.

All he is needs is a frank pep talk with Chappell and that should be enough to see him back to his vintage ways though the new coach is little sceptical about latter repeating his earlier blitzkrieg ways with the willow.

Priority-wise, Indian pace bowling attack is something that needs to be looked at closely by Chappell. Frequent break-downs, inconsistency are something crippling Indian cricket for quite some time now.

The likes of Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan , Lakshmipathy Balaji, Ashish Nehra are all injury-prone and Chappell would surely have his hands full in bringing more discipline in the seam bowling department.

Fielding of Team India have made new strides over the past few years with the advent of foreign physios in the side. Not many would argue that there are a few blokes who are difficult to hide on a cricket field. Chappell would have to be hard with these guys and make India a fitter outfit.

Bench-strength is something world champions Australia pride on. No Australian takes his spot for granted. Being an Australian and being brought up in a cricket culture where no individual is indispensable to the side, Chappell would do well to inject the same spirit into the men in blue.

Chappell has been a virtuoso as a player and his stock would surely go a long way in coping with the star-spangled Indian team. Not to suggest that every super star player can attain the same as coach; as amply evident in the cases of legends Kapil Dev and Vivian Richards.

Chappell would find no dearth of talent in the Indian team but his biggest challenge undoubtedly would be to channelise them in a desired manner to achieve the right results!

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