Captain-coach patch-up an eyewash, says media

Published: Wednesday, September 28, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Mumbai:The truce brokered by India's cricket chiefs between captain Sourav Ganguly and coach Greg Chappell was rubbished by the media amid fears another flare-up was around the corner.

Ganguly and Chappell, whose damaging rift was described by one newspaper as "the biggest controversy since the match-fixing scandal" agreed to patch-up before a high-powered panel of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Tuesday.

But the media remained unsatisfied at the outcome and blamed the BCCI panel, which included former captains Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri and Srinivas Venkataraghvan, as "spineless" for failing to take sterner action.

"Who are they kidding?" said an editorial in the Mumbai-based Daily News and Analysis.

"What makes this wishy-washy outcome even stranger is Chappell's acquiescence to this travesty. After the open bitterness, life for the two of them will be difficult."

Chappell, 56, a former Australian captain and batting great, took over as Indian coach in June for a two-year term extending until the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean.

Relations between Chappell and Ganguly soured on the recent Zimbabwe tour and culminated in the coach writing a confidential e-mail to the BCCI saying the captain was unfit to lead India.

The 2,334 word e-mail, which was leaked to the media, spoke of Chappell's distrust of Ganguly, the country's most successful captain with 21 Test wins, seven more than second-placed Mohammad Azharuddin.

Leading national broadsheet The Hindustan Times ridiculed the uneasy truce worked out by the BCCI.

"Sourav Ganguly stays. Greg Chappell stays," it said. "And Indian cricket stays in the same mess into which it had got itself ever since the row between the captain and the coach exploded into the open and became the biggest controversy to threaten the game here since the match fixing scandal."

"Two very strong and egotistical men have lost face in the battle," said the Times of India. "They will not rest in peace until the other is eventually beaten.

"It cannot be a fair fight anymore."

Both Chappell and Ganguly were barred by the BCCI from speaking on the subject to the media. Less than 24 later, however, the media relied on "authoritative sources" to describe what transpired at Tuesday's meeting.

The Telegraph from Ganguly's home city of Kolkata reported that "the BCCI would have considered doing away with both if an understanding wasn't reached."

Added the Hindustan Times: "The coach told the captain that he wants to be the boss. Ganguly said that Chappell was playing the blame game and creating an environment of insecurity, panic and fear."

Ganguly even seemed to have gained the moral high ground after BCCI president Ranbir Mahendra said that one of the main accusations in Chappells leaked email, that Ganguly faked injury, was "far from the truth."

Former BCCI president Raj Singh Dungarpur slammed the panel for not taking concrete action.

"It's at best a temporary truce," Dungarpur said. "It's a spineless decision but where is the surprise? No one was expecting any better from spineless people."

India are scheduled to play Test series against Sri Lanka, Pakistan, England and the West Indies, besides a minimum of 33 One-dayers, in a gruelling eight-month period from late October.

The national selectors, who had appointed Ganguly captain only for the Zimbabwe tour, will meet in mid-October to select the skipper for a seven-match One-day series against Sri Lanka from October 25.

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