Ganguly-Chappell rift to be discussed tomorrow

Published: Monday, September 26, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Mumbai:The stand-off between Sourav Ganguly and Greg Chappell will be the hot topic of discussion at tomorrow's Cricket Board's review meeting here even as more embarrassing details have emerged of the Indian captain's "nervous" ways and attempts to "divide" the team.

The two dramatis personae will appear separately before the review committee of the BCCI comprising among others president R S Mahendra, Jagmohan Dalmiya and former cricketers Sunil Gavaskar, S Venkataraghavan and Ravi Shastri, when the contents of Chappell's e-mail to BCCI in which he has levelled various charges will come in for scrutiny.

In the details of the e-mail available to the media, the former Australian captain has said that Ganguly was struggling as a player and that it was affecting his ability to lead the team effectively and that the pressure of captaincy was affecting his ability to play to his potential.

"I told him that his state of mind was fragile and it showed in the way that he made decisions on and off the field in relation to the team, especially team selection," Chappell had said.

Although the six allegations, including the charge that Ganguly was physically and mentally unfit to lead the team, have been doing the rounds for the last three days, the context in which these charges were made by Chappell make it more damaging.

Chappell has written in detail about the "modus operandi" of the skipper and how it was ruining the other players. He also did not not spare his predecessor John Wright accusing him of allowing all this to go on "to the detriment of the team".

While stating categorically that at no stage did he ask Ganguly to step down from captaincy or threatened to resign as Indian team coach, Chappell said the time had come for Ganguly to step down and let someone else lead the team towards the World Cup.

"This team has been made to be fearful and distrusting by the rumour mongering and deceit that is Sourav's modus operandi of divide and rule. Certain players have been treated with favour, all of them bowlers, while others have been shunted up and down the order or left out of the team to suit Sourav's whims," the coach has written in the letter.

"John Wright obviously allowed this to go on to the detriment of the team. I am not prepared to sit back and allow this to continue or we will get the same results we have been seeing for some time now," Chappell said.

"It is time that all players were treated with fairness and equity and that good behaviours and attitudes are rewarded at the selection table rather than punished," he said.

Another serious charge that Chappell has made is that Ganguly used to wrongly tell players that the coach was unhappy with them, a case in point being the VVS Laxman episode.

"Again, this (Laxman's) is not an isolated incident because I have had other players come to me regarding comments that Sourav had made to them that purports to be comments from me to Sourav about the particular player.

In each case the comments that Sourav has passed on to the individual are figments of Sourav's imagination. One can only assume that he does it to unnerve the individual who, in each case, has been a middle order batsman.

Chappell said he enquired with a number of the players as to what they had thought of Ganguly's retirement.

"They recounted a list of times when Sourav had suffered from mystery injuries that usually disappeared as quickly as they had come. This disturbed me because it confirmed for me that he was in a fragile state of mind and it was affecting the mental state of other members of the squad."

The Australian great has also accused Ganguly of making last-minute changes in the team, which badly affected the team morale.

"On at least one occasion he did change the team and on the morning of the final I had to talk him out of making another last-minute change that I believe would have destroyed team morale and damaged the mental state of the individuals concerned. I also told Sourav that his nervous state was affecting the team in other ways as he was prone to panic during pressure situations in games and that his nervous demeanour was putting undue pressure on the rest of the team."

Chappell says he was so upset with Ganguly's behaviour, that he had "serious doubts about picking him for the first Test."

"I explained that, in my view, I felt we had to pick Kaif and Yuvraj following their good form in the One-day series and that Sehwag, Gambhir, Laxman and Dravid had to play..."

"Sourav asked me whether I thought he should be captain of the team. I said that I had serious doubts that he was in the right frame of mind to do it. He asked me if I thought he should step down. I said that it was not my decision to make, that only he could make that decision, but if he did make that decision he had to do it in the right manner or it would have even more detrimental effects than if he didn't stand down."

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