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The Greg Chappell principles
- Australian legend acknowledges being influenced by Einstein, Newton

Calcutta, July 19: Few, perhaps, remember that Greg Chappell was a contender for the Team India coach’s job. As it turned out, the Board eventually decided on John Wright who wears his low profile on both sleeves.

That, of course, was almost three years ago.

More recently, Greg was in India and made a remarkable presentation — a copy of which is with The Telegraph — during the MRF Coaches’ Seminar in Chennai. The former Australia captain (and idol of generations) spoke both on coaching and batting.

One understands the invitees — including Wright and Ashok Malhotra, stand-in Team India coach for a brief while earlier this year — were all ears during his nearly three-hour presentation over two days.

Actually, they couldn’t but have taken in every word, specially when Greg talked of “the principles” which formulated the envied “Chappell way.”

Among other things, Greg acknowledged being influenced by Albert Einstein (theory of relativity), Isaac Newton (laws of motion) and Professor Nicholas Negroponte (an advocate of unstructured approach to learning).

[Negroponte is the Wiesner Professor of media technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and best-selling author of Being Digital. That 1995 book, by the way, has been translated into 40 languages.]

With such inspiration, it’s hardly a surprise that Greg was himself such a scientist among batsmen — totalling a masterly 7,110 runs in Tests (24 hundreds, average 53-plus) and 2,331 in ODIs (three hundreds, average 40-plus).

Describing cricket as a sport which “reflects the ups and downs of life,” Greg called for a shift towards “unstructured learning.” Basically, he wants youngsters to have a free run in other disciplines as well.

Significantly, Greg pointed out that “learning is far more efficient when the person is encouraged to develop solutions to problems… It’s important to provide a wide range of situational learnings…”

In Greg’s opinion, “many hours of unstructured play and minimal formal competitive pressures” will go a long way in ‘building’ a cricketer.

Incidentally, for Greg, the “real crux” of coaching is best explained by a quote that has stood the test of time: “Any life can be damaged by the wrong words from the right person’s lips. Conversely, any life can be healed by the right words from the right person’s lips. Each of our lives has been touched by the presence of one individual who made a tremendous difference.

“That individual may have trusted you when others doubted, backed you when others backed away, saw deeper into your soul than you ever imagined possible. That person provided a kind word at a critical moment, an encouraging smile, or an arm around the shoulder.”

It’s reasonable to assume that those who heard Greg left with much to think about. And implement.

THE VERY BEST

Viv Richards
Gary Sobers

- Stance/ set up: Sir Donald Bradman, Barry Richards

- Opening up the body: Ian Chappell

- Rotating the body: Adam Gilchrist

- Bending of knees: Steve Waugh

- Weight on feet: Matthew Hayden

- Hitting into the line: Sunil Gavaskar

- Timing: Ricky Ponting

- Timing and power: Graeme Pollock, Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara

- Unstructured batting: Sir Gary Sobers and Sir Viv Richards

Note: For Greg Chappell, stance/set up is much the same as “relaxed readiness”.

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