Ganguly, Chappell on different paths, literally!

Published: Sunday, September 18, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Harare:Captain Sourav Ganguly and coach Greg Chappell have headed off in different directions, literally, and there is growing concern on how it could undermine Team India ahead of the second cricket Test, starting in Harare on Tuesday.

Ganguly gave enough indications of a wandering mind when he headed off for the scenic Victoria Falls on Saturday morning while informing the media to the contrary!Chappell, on the other hand, headed for a different destination in the company of four players, taking the morning flight to Harare.

The two, distanced by nearly a thousand kilometres, can neither rely on the notorious telecommunications network in Zimbabwe nor their own forgiving spirits to let bygones be bygones.

To an Indian mind, it is a personality clash between the two though those who know Chappell assert that he is only concerned about the larger picture and individuals do not matter to him.

So far there has not been any indication of a thaw even though the two, with most others of the squad, attended a private dinner in Bulawayo on Friday evening.

In the wake of the turmoil in Indian cricket because of Ganguly's disclosure that he was asked by Chappell to step down from the captaincy before the first Test in Bulawayo, certain major issues are begging attention.

Some are immediate ones like the issue of team spirit, hampering of team preparation and, most importantly, in what context Chappell asked Ganguly to step down ahead of the first Test.

Former India captain Ravi Shastri, for one, feels the context of Chappell's advice could hold the key to understanding the entire issue.

It's important to know in what context Chappell said so. He might have privately gone to him and said 'you are feeling the pressure and it would not be a bad idea to step down'."Or, 'you feel your own personal batting form is not the greatest, you feel the responsibility is too much so you should step down'.

"In what context he said it, nobody knows. You got to get the truth."Chappell, an upright man -- which in the Board of Control for Cricket in India's context means stubborn, does not want to add fuel to fire. He believes the success of the team would take care of such issues that are "always bubbling in a team environment".

However, Ganguly might feel that it was more than just a suggestion and he has let known his distrust by not making the first move of rapprochement towards Chappell.

With both holding their ground, it becomes imperative for the higher offices of Board to get involved. Either they can take sides and sacrifice one of them or urge both to seek out a working relationship.

So far, the only thing one can say with certainty is that they don't seem to agree on matters of team selection as well as about the batting orders.

Sunil Gavaskar, who like Ravi Shastri was in the panel that appointed Chappell as coach, feels it would not be a bad idea for the Board to send a selector on tour, as he could form an opinion or play a role in issues of dressing room.

"When Australia came to India last year, they had selectors Trevor Hohns and Allan Border accompany the team. It would give him a fair idea of what's happening in the dressing room.

"There could be some guys who are not good for the spirit of the dressing room. A selector sitting back in India wouldn't be able to see (it).

"While former coach John Wright believed in preparing the team and leaving all the major decisions in the hands of the captain, Chappell is keen to play a slightly more active role.Shastri feels there is nothing wrong in it, for "towards the end of his reign, I don't think John [Wright] was pulling his weight.

"It is very important for Chappell to instill discipline. Get the right kind of camaraderie between the seniors and the juniors. If a senior player gets out of hand, it is his job to reprimand him. He must tell him that it's a team sport and by what he is doing, the team performance can get affected."

Gavaskar also feels that it is a coach's job to help the team to progress, keeping the 2007 World Cup in mind.

"A coach has to be the one who helps the team to progress, help it get to another level. He has to identify the team as well as individual goals."

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