Harbhjan speaks for his captain, slams Chappell

Published: Sunday, September 25, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Jalandhar:Embattled skipper Sourav Ganguly today found support in off-spinner Harbhajan Singh who credited him for the success of the team and accused coach Greg Chappell of creating "fear and insecurity" among the players.

The first player to speak on the controversy which has engulfed Indian cricket, Harbhajan slammed the "double standards" of Chappell while hoping that the entire issue is resolved at the earliest.

"Whenever any controversy surrounds the team, the performance of team is adversely affected. It will be good for the team if the controversy is immediately resolved so that every player can concentrate on his game instead of getting mental tension," the off-spinner told PTI in an exclusive interview.

Asked about Chappell's charge that Ganguly was not physically or mentally fit to be in the team, Harbhajan said "it may be the coach's own observation but as far as I am concerned, Ganguly has been proved as an excellent captain, which is evident from his match winning record."

Harbhajan also rubbished the allegation that Ganguly was interested only in captaincy and creating differences among team members.

"I have played for almost five years under the captaincy of Ganguly and never felt like that. In fact, he takes personal interest to boost each and every player during practice as well as during a match."

"Ganguly has rebuilt this team and whatever the team has achieved so far, credit goes to the captain."

Harbhajan said every player should be asked about his opinion about the captain and the behaviour of the coach with each one of them.

"As far as I am concerned, as a senior member of the team, I will reveal the truth if the Board asks for the same. I have lot to reveal about the Zimbabwe tour but I will do so only at the appropriate time and at an appropriate level."

Harbhajan revealed that he had come to know from his friends that Chappell had accused him of under-performing deliberately under Rahul Dravid's captaincy during the Sri Lanka tour.

"Chappell's remarks were an attempt to create a rift between me and Dravid for whom I have great regards. His (Chappell's) remarks have given me mental tension.

"It affected my performance in Zimbabwe tour as well. I could not concentrate on my game due to immense pressure that if I commit any mistake, the coach will definitely make it an issue against me," Harbhajan said adding that even now he could not come out of the mental trauma caused by Chappell's remark.

"I am unhappy and disturbed as I am the kind of person who would die rather than deliberately not play well as cricket is not just a game for me. It is like worship."

Harbhajan was also sceptical about the coach's observations on the attitude of some of the players saying everything could not go wrong suddenly and attitudes of players also could not change overnight.

He said the hype over the rumblings in the team was "disgusting" but "as far players are concerned, they are all united and looking forward to prove their mettle in the World Cup 2007.

On suggestions in a section of the press that he had some differences with Anil Kumble, Harbhajan said "Kumble is a very good friend of mine and I know him for the last eight years. There were attempts to create differences between us but we are both mature enough to understand all this.

"Kumble is a player who has always supported me as his younger brother and I have great regards for him. Where is the possibility of having any differences with him?"

Asked to compare former coach John Wright and Chappell, he said in a lighter vein, "anybody can judge it from the on-going controversies".

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