The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hidden factors in Ramesh decision
- Nandan Bal likely to be appointed Davis Cup coach

Calcutta, Nov. 15: Ramesh Krishnan was no spring chicken when he played his last Davis Cup match for India. But, had it not been for a mean comment made by the then All India Tennis Association (AITA) secretary Ramesh Desai, the touch artist from Chennai may have served the country a couple of years more.

India had been wallopped 0-5 by Australia in the World Group semi-final in Chandigarh and Desai just stopped short of saying that the players had money in mind more than the team’s interest. He was obviously referring to the long-drawn ‘fight’ the players had with the AITA over Cup payments just before the clash with Australia.

The players had every right to settle, once and for all, how much each of them would be getting per Cup tie as the AITA didn’t have any fixed policy till then. Those deliberations had nothing to do with India’s disappointing show in Chandigarh. Only Desai could have come up with the outrageous hint that men as committed as Ramesh and Leander Paes didn’t give their all for the country.

Ramesh couldn’t digest it, and decided to quit. That was in December 1993.

Almost a decade later, Ramesh has relinquished the Davis Cup non-playing captaincy citing personal problems. Being the thorough gentleman that he is, Ramesh refused to say anything controversial. “It (quitting) has been in my mind for some time… I had a four-year run as captain, I think it’s the right decision,” he said from his Chennai residence.

But there is more to it than meets the eye. Those close to him are convinced that Ramesh’s decision was hastened by developments during India’s World Group play-off tie in The Netherlands two months ago.

Prakash Amritraj’s inclusion in the Indian team, for the first time, meant that father Vijay was around before and during the tie in Zwolle. Vijay being Prakash’s personal coach, most of the advice for the youngster was coming from his father. Ramesh wasn’t very comfortable with the situation. In his four years at the helm, Ramesh showed he was a hands-on captain who preferred to do things his own way and wasn’t in favour of interference of any kind.

With Prakash set to be a permanent fixture in the Indian team for some time to come, none could guarantee that a Zwolle-like situation wouldn’t arise again.

Talk in certain quarters of Ramesh ignoring Rohan Bopanna’s claim as the second singles player last year also didn’t go down well with the captain. There was also the Anand Amritraj factor. Vijay’s elder brother made his intentions of becoming Davis Cup captain known in black and white more than once in the last couple of years. And Anand does figure on AITA’s shortlist, even though Leander Paes has been named the playing captain.

Ramesh clearly didn’t want to hear one fine morning that his services were not required.

Now that Leander has been elevated to the hot seat, it’s almost certain the AITA will appoint a permanent coach. The association should certainly not burden the 30-year-old champion with multiple off-court duties every Davis Cup tie entails. During Ramesh’s tenure, it may be mentioned, a coach was part of the team in just two ties.

The frontrunner for the coach’s berth, it has been learnt, is Nandan Bal. The seven-time national champion has been coach of the team for a handful of ties. This time, he may get a long-term appointment.

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