Row should have stayed private, says John Wright

Published: Wednesday, September 28, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:The row between Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly and the team's Australian coach Greg Chappell should never have left the dressing-room, former Indian coach John Wright has said.

Wright declined to take sides in the bitter argument, which has caused turmoil within Indian cricket in his first comments on the issue during a telephone interview with AFP.

But he defended his five-year tenure in charge of the Indian team after criticism from Chappell, who accused the New Zealander of allowing Ganguly to run the team through "deceit" "rumour-mongering" and "divide and rule".

Wright, who stood down voluntarily from the job earlier this year, said the Indian people's passionate love of cricket meant "minor things can become major things very quickly".

But in veiled criticism of Chappell, Wright said the issue would have been handled very differently when he was coach.

"I was very fortunate from the point of view that we always believed what goes on in the changing room stays in the changing room," he said.

"Sometimes as soon as things come into the public area they can take on a momentum all of their own," Wright told AFP from Melbourne, where he is coaching the International Cricket Council World XI ahead of their matches with Australia next month.

Wright said he had been following reports of the crisis in relations between Chappell and Ganguly during the recent trip to Zimbabwe which culminated in the coach telling India's cricket chiefs the captain was unfit to lead the team in an e-mail that was leaked to the media.

The e-mail alleged Ganguly adopted "divide and rule" tactics to dominate the team and accused Wright of failing to clamp down on his behaviour.

"John Wright obviously allowed this to go on to the detriment of the team," Chappell wrote. "I am not prepared to sit back and allow this to continue."

Wright, whose record included Test series victories against Australia and Pakistan, shrugged off the criticism and highlighted his success at team-building, one of Chappell's alleged deficiencies.

"I stand by my record," he said. "I worked with the team I was given by the selectors. I worked as hard as I could with the whole team to try and get the performances that the Indian people wanted."

Wright said the Indian national coach could always expect criticism.

"I had criticism from all quarters during, after and before my tenure, it's part of the role of being coach," he said.

"The only thing that I tried to do was ensure that we played well as a team and we got results as a team, that was it.

"I've moved on, I'm no longer the coach, I believe we made progress during my time with the team, I thoroughly enjoyed it."

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Tuesday brokered an uneasy truce between Ganguly and Chappell, telling them to work together for the sake of the national team.

Both Chappell and Ganguly have been barred by the BCCI from speaking on the subject to the media.

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