Saturday, 24 March 2007

Chappell's Fate Hangs in Balance

He beat a star-studded field that included names like Mohinder Amarnath, Desmond Haynes and Tom Moody to win the Team India coach’s job in May 2005. BCCI roped him till the World Cup and thanks to the unceremonious exit of Rahul Dravid’s men, Greg Chappell’s career is at a crossroad. Moody – his team in Super Eight, carrying Asian hopes – can’t be blamed for a chuckle. A score is settled between two lanky Australians.

India’s worst World Cup campaign since 1979 has clearly put a question mark to Chappell’s career as coach. The towering Aussie earned less friends and more foes with his headstrong, straight-talking approach and no other cricket coach polarises opinion like him. You either like him or hate him.

Chappell’s first international coaching stint had its fare share of ups and downs and it’s difficult to say whether he failed or succeeded. At times, he seemed more gimmick than substance. Edward Bono’s thinking caps, paramilitary training, constant harping on having multi-dimensional cricketer, “reaching the Next Level” and “means-more-important-than-outcome” -- his coaching never lacked innovations. What was only lacking is the desired results.

It was understandable that Chappell was edgy in the press conference after India’s defeat against Sri Lanka last night.

Asked if he would like to continue as coach, Chappell’s terse reply was “This is not the time to talk about that.”

And he chose the occasion to air his dissent about team selection also.

“The fact of the matter was that we got the team that India wanted and we didn't perform when the time came. That's the long and the short of it. That is my answer. I'm not sure right at this time is the moment to try and dissect it.”

Reminded that over the last 17 matches overseas, India survived full 50 overs on just four occasions and Chappell was naturally not amused by the statistics.

Chappell was angered when a journalist asked if he was shrinking responsibilities.

“No I don't think so. I am not employed by you people, I am employed by the BCCI. Obviously, I will have to face up to them and give them a report and give them some indications of what I think. But I don't think this is the forum for me to say anything. “

And he was not ready to say whether his stress on process, more than outcome, had backfired.

“That's an inflammatory question and I'm not prepared to answer it,’’ he said.

And the only truth emanating from the press conference was when somebody asked what he was taking from this World Cup. “A lot of disappointment”, pat came Chappell’s response.

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