Gavaskar guards Ganguly from Flintoff~~s criticism

Published: Thursday, September 29, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Melbourne:Indian batting great Sunil Gavaskar defended captain Sourav Ganguly after he was portrayed as selfish and lazy by England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff.

A truce has been brokered by India's cricket chiefs between Ganguly and coach Greg Chappell following a damaging rift.

Relations between Chappell and Ganguly soured on India's recent Zimbabwe tour and culminated in the Australian coach writing a confidential e-mail to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) which was subsequently leaked saying the captain was unfit to lead his country.

Reporters here Thursday sought Gavaskar's views on Flintoff's claims that Ganguly was a selfish and lazy cricketer.

Flintoff, who played alongside Ganguly for English county side Lancashire in 2000, said in an extract from his forthcoming autobiography, Being Freddie:

"You can accept a player not playing well, because we all have our ups and downs in our career, but he just didn't want to get involved.

"He wasn't interested in the other players and it became a situation where it was 10 players and Ganguly in the team.

"He turned up as if he was royalty - it was like having Prince Charles on your side."

Gavaskar, a member of the panel that appointed Chappell as coach and also brokered the truce with Ganguly, said Flintoff's view was a misconception.

"Ganguly has been portrayed as somebody who comes from a royal family, actually his nickname is Maharaj, which is like Emperor in Hindi, but I don't think so," said Gavaskar, here as team director of the ICC World XI to play Australia in three one-dayers and a Test match over the next fortnight.

"I find what little I've seen of him that he's a very hard-working cricketer.

"He likes to get into the nets and work at his batting and bowl in the nets, a lot more than perhaps do 20 laps of the ground or whatever that some other cricketers do.

"I think he's a hard-working cricketer, it's just a misconception, I think."

Gavaskar said he expected Chappell and Ganguly to maintain a working relationship despite their blow-up.

"We hope it won't crop up again," Gavaskar said.

"India's got a pretty busy season, we've got 12 one-dayers - seven against Sri Lanka, five against the South Africans - and then Sri Lanka come back (for a three-Test series).

"It's a busy season and we're hoping that everything will be okay.

"I know it's not always easy when you've had a public spat.

"But both are mature people and having spoken to them, the committee having spoken to them, the committee believes that they will put their misconceptions behind them and go forward."

Gavaskar said Chappell and Ganguly had both accepted they "might have stepped out of line just a bit" and would try to work together to take Indian cricket forward.

New Zealander John Wright, who stood down voluntarily as Indian team coach earlier this year, has refused to buy into the raging debate.

Wright, here as World XI coach, has declined to take sides, but said Wednesday the Indian people's passionate love of cricket meant "minor things can become major things very quickly".

"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 told AFP.

"Sometimes as soon as things come into the public area they can take on a momentum all of their own."

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