Irfan an important member in team: Chappell

Published: Saturday, August 5, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Irfan Pathan's recent poor form is not a big concern for Team India coach Greg Chappell, who feels that his ''strike bowler and shock batsman'' is just a bit tired after going over-board in his efforts to improve himself.

''I'm not overly concerned, to be honest. Being a young man he's striving to improve himself all the time. I would say at times he has worked too hard. We've tried to hold back the reins and get him to understand that rest days are as important to his development as a cricketer as training days,'' Chappell told 'Cricinfo' in an interview.

The Team India coach said expectations from the youngster have been way too high, especially after his batting exploits, which has put immense pressure on him.

''He's a 21-year-old who has been asked to do a lot in the last twelve months. We've used him as a strike bowler, we've used him as a shock batsman. We were asking a lot of him and it was going to impact on him, and I think that happened in the West Indies,'' Chappell added, referring to Irafan's below par show in the recently concluded Caribbean tour.

Describing Irfan as an improtant member of both the Test and ODI squad, Chappell said the pacer was crucial for the balance of the team and should not be judged by one bad performance.

''He's a very important member of the One-day team and even the Test team for that matter, because of the balance of the side.

No-one goes through an international career without ups and downs and he has already had a bit of both. He'll learn from both,'' the coach emphasised.

''He's had a huge surge in progress in the last 12 months, and now this was a setback, but that's all it was,'' he added.

Chappell said he now makes sure that even the other members -- in their enthusiasm -- don't over-burden themselves.

''We have to be careful. He (Irfan) hasn't even reached his prime at this stage and we as the management team have to bear that in mind. We've learnt some lessons that will help Irfan and some of the other young cricketers. We have to make sure that we don't overwork them and they don't overwork themselves,'' Chappell explained.

''With Pathan we recognised that we might do serious damage if we kept pushing him. The short-term damage of leaving him out was much less of a danger than the long-term damage of keeping him in,'' he added.

The Australian said developing fast bowlers was tough task and the available talent should be utilised judiciously to prevent burning them out.

''Developing players, especially bowlers, take time. Here we're trying to short-circuit what is a long development process. That's fraught with danger. We can break players if we're not careful.

That's why we have had to pull players out at various stages. With Sreesanth we have had to ease up from time to time. We will do that with others when the time comes,'' the coach said.

Speaking about next month's tri-series against Sri Lanka and South Africa, Chappell revealed that, Sachin Tendulkar might open in the tournament but that would depend on the needs of the team and if the requirements of the squad ask for a different role for the Master Blaster, the changes would be made accordingly.

''When we get to Sri Lanka I expect he'll be opening the innings. If we see that there's a better role for him we will always be open to it. Just because we do something different it doesn't mean there's a huge change in thinking. It's more likely just an adjustment,'' the Aussie said.The Team India coach was not particularly happy with the questions being raised over Dinesh Mongia's selection for the series and said the left-hander was picked because he fitted in the side's scheme of things. ''He's an experienced player and has had some opportunities.

Just looking at the balance of the team and the conditions in Sri Lanka we thought he was a player who had something to offer - nothing more, nothing less,'' he said.

The coach said despite the loss in the ODI series and a less then satisfactory 1-0 win in the Test series, the tour of West Indies gave Team India a chance to acclimatise themselves with the Caribbean conditions, which would help them perform better in the World Cup next year.

''Losing there wasn't a disaster, that's for sure, and if we were going to lose it, probably, was a good time to lose. In the course of that I think we learned some important lessons about the conditions in West Indies that should help us when we go back there next year,'' he said.

Chappell admitted that the team was a bit exhausted after continuously and the tiredness showed in their performance in both the ODI and Test series against West indies.

''I know I was a bit flat at the start of the West Indies series so I can imagine the players' situation as well. We played as though we were a bit flat and it showed that at this level you don't have to be far below your best and you can be in trouble,'' he revealed.

Chappell also felt that his team did well to bounce back after 4-1 ODI loss to win the Test series against the hosts to break a 35-year-old jinx.

''The pain of losing is always there. But there was a point just after the one-dayers when the tour could easily have gone downhill.

The good thing was the resilience of the group to hold together and bounce back to play some good cricket and win the Test series,'' he said, praising Team India's comeback in the Test series.

''That sort of strength is hard to find and the fact that Indian teams have not been consistent overseas in the past points to that,'' he added.

Asserting that team selection is done with an open mind, the coach said door was still open for players like veteran Anil Kumble and medium-pacer Zaheer Khan. Chappell said if any player suited Team India's demands, he would certainly get a serious consideration from the selectors.

''You look at anyone that can offer something to the team. The minute you close your eyes or shut the door on someone you can make a mistake. We have to be open-minded and use all of the resources that we've got. I suppose the message from Mongia's selection is that no-one is totally out of it and no-one's totally in,'' Chappell said when asked about Zaheer's future prospects.

''If Kumble comes into that equation then he'll be given very serious consideration,'' he added.

Satisfied with the team's performance so far, Chappell said the room for improvement will always be there and if the Indians want to win next year's World Cup then they would have constantly evolve themselves.

''At the moment I'm very comfortable with the strides we've made in the last 12 months. But if we are going to give ourselves the best chances in the World Cup the next year then there has to be improvement in the team from now to then. That's a big challenge for the players, for the support staff, for the selectors,'' he said.

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