Indian cricket giants to probe captain-coach rift

Published: Sunday, September 25, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Angry Indian cricket officials will this week investigate the growing rift between coach Greg Chappell and captain Sourav Ganguly that has left the national team in disarray.

Three former India captains, Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri and Srinivas Venkataraghvan, will join a high-powered panel in Mumbai on Tuesday to grill both Chappell and Ganguly on the crisis.

"Enough is enough," an angry Ranbir Singh Mahendra, president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), told AFP on Sunday.

"This controversy has brought a bad name to Indian cricket. We cannot allow it to go on. We will find out the truth."

Mahendra, himself battling to retain control of a faction-ridden BCCI, will attend the inquest along with his predecessor and former International Cricket Council (ICC) chief Jagmohan Dalmiya.

Indian cricket suffered a nightmarish week when the captain-coach spat was made public and the two-day annual general meeting of the BCCI ended in chaos and confusion in Kolkata without elections being held.

Mahendra, who was challenged by political heavyweight Sharad Pawar for the president's post, abandoned the meeting amid legal wrangling and promised to hold elections on or before November 30.

Mahendra, a lawyer by profession and Dalmiya's long-time protege, knows that failure to solve the crisis in the Indian team could cost him the next election.

The coach-captain spat, which began in Zimbabwe when Chappell asked Ganguly to consider his position as captain because of his poor batting form, worsened on Friday when a confidential e-mail from the coach to the BCCI was leaked to the media.

Chappell, 56, a former Australian captain who took over in June, reportedly said in the e-mail that Ganguly was not "physically or mentally" fit to lead the side and even threatened to quit if the captain was not changed.

Chappell said he was "disappointed but not surprised" that the confidential e-mail was leaked, but made his views clear in a subsequent interview to the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency in Harare.

Without naming Ganguly, India's most successful captain with 21 Test wins, Chappell said: "Any discussion on selection from this point has to have in mind the World Cup in 2007.

"It will take time to develop a team and I suppose a decision has to be taken on which of the senior players are most likely to last and be potent enough that long.

"There are some things which are non-negotiable. Fielding and fitness are two of them.

"Guys who are buying into it are going ahead and those who are not buying into it will find themselves by the wayside," the coach warned in the interview.

The controversy overshadowed India's first Test series win outside the subcontinent since 1986, even though the 2-0 success over a weakened Zimbabwe provided only a limited morale boost.

A country-wide poll in the latest issue of the New Delhi-based Outlook weekly showed that 58 percent of respondents wanted Ganguly, 32, out as captain.

Ganguly declined to comment on Chappell's missive on his return from Zimbabwe, saying he would put forward his side of the story to the BCCI.

"It is between the coach and me and we have to sort it out," Ganguly said.

Chappell, whose contract runs till the 2007 World Cup, received support from ex-India captain Bishan Bedi and former BCCI chief Raj Singh Dungarpur.

"Chappell has to be supported because he wants to take Indian cricket forward," said Bedi.

With India scheduled to play Test series against Sri Lanka, Pakistan, England and the West Indies this season, along with a minimum of 33 One-day internationals, the BCCI wants to end the dispute quickly.

"Ganguly must step down or be sacked. His sell-by date is over," said Dungarpur.

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