Chappell believes he is up to the task

Published: Thursday, June 16, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Bangalore:India's new coach Greg Chappell said the absence of batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar from the team provided an opportunity for a new hero to emerge from the ranks.

The 56-year-old Australian cricket legend, who took over for a two-year term from New Zealander John Wright, also defended out-of-form skipper Sourav Ganguly and said he would evolve a new coaching format to suit India.

Chappell said the absence of Tendulkar, who has been ruled out of international action for four months following elbow surgery, was a cause for concern.

"The best thing that can happen to Sachin and Indian cricket is for him to get fit. That is a process that will take many weeks," Chappell said in Bangalore Thursday.

"It also becomes an opportunity for someone else (to) come up to be the next champion cricketer for India. He may not have got an opportunity so far since Sachin was there," Chappell said. "It might turn out to be a blessing in disguise."

Tendulkar is the fourth-highest scorer in Test cricket with 10,134 runs in 123 matches. He is also a world record holder in One-day cricket with 13,642 runs in 348 matches, including 38 hundreds.

The swashbuckling batsman is recovering from elbow surgery in London last month.

The tennis elbow had been troubling Tendulkar for nearly a year, forcing him to skip three major One-day tournaments and two home Tests against Australia last season.

Chappell, the former captain and selector of Australia, has taken charge at a time when captain Ganguly is struggling to overcome the worst slump of his career and pacemen are either reeling with injuries or out of form.

Coaching India has never been for the faint-hearted, considering the inflated expectations of hundreds of millions of fans and an ever-probing media.

But Chappell, appointed until the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies, said he was up to the task.

"This is a bigger country and (has) a bigger media contingent so obviously the scrutiny will be much more. The emotions are always quite high and the well-being of the country depends on the country's cricket team," Chappell said.

"At the end of day it is up to the players to perform and all we can do is to offer the best support."

Ganguly has scored only 48 runs in three home Tests against Pakistan, putting his captaincy as well as his place in the side in doubt.

Chappell defended Ganguly and said players who have been successful over a period of time needs to be given more opportunities.

"There are not that many players who can succeed at that level. It is not about talent. It is about personality, temperament and loyalty. You do not throw those players up lightly. You give them one game too many rather than one too few as they are not easy to find," he said.

Chappell said though the culture and personalities differed in India he would come up a new format to suit the Indian needs.

"There is space to be individuals but also to fit into the team environment," he said. "It is about creating the right environment without affecting the individual or the team."

On Ganguly:

Chappell also expressed the view that the team should be selected first and not the captain, as he came out in support of Sourav Ganguly.

Giving his views on the issue to a question, Chappell said "speaking on cricket in general, one has to pick the team first and then the best person to lead the team," adding he felt quite strongly in favour of this method.

Asked if Ganguly should be continued as the captain, the coach said: "If he (Ganguly) is the best man for the job, he should have it; if he is not, someone else should have it."

Asked whether Ganguly continues to be in the team by default being the captain, Chappell said "from time to time, you will have players out of form; player who is successful for a long time, you may have to give more opportunities than perhaps you would give someone else."

"There are not many players who can succeed at that level. It's not just about talent; it's about personality, temperament...it's about learning. They also make mistakes, have a bad day but they learn from mistakes. The best players are those who learn fast," Chappell observed.

"So, you don't throw those players out lightly," the former Australian captain said. "You give them one game too many, one series too many; one or two too many; not one or twotoo few."

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