| Greg Chappell in Bangalore. (Reuters)
Bangalore, June 16: Greg Chappell made 161 appearances (87 of them in Tests) for Australia, but didn’t play in India. He did, of course, make the occasional trip before being appointed coach last month.
Chappell wasn’t picked for the 1969-70 tour when Bill Lawry was captain. A decade later, owing to the Packer fallout, he couldn’t make it under Kim Hughes either. By the next tour, Chappell had retired.
So, given limited exposure to the culture in these parts, Chappell and his wife of 34 years, Judith, spent much of the past four weeks “learning” about India.
That “enriching” exercise included viewing Mira Nair’s acclaimed Monsoon Wedding and a New Delhi-specific programme, both on the small screen back in Adelaide.
“We enjoyed the movie and were enthralled by the stuff on New Delhi, telecast by a channel which has slots for ethnic minorities'. It helped in our homework,” Chappell told The Telegraph this evening.
John Wright’s successor did India-related reading as well: “I don’t read for fun, but to learn'. I get ideas and, often, see if they can be implemented in cricket.”
Well, Chappell is different.
The Chappells arrived late last night and this city will be their India home for two years, at least. Apartment-hunting is on the agenda, but a hitch is that nobody seems inclined to offer anything on lease.
“That’s Judith’s portfolio'. Let her choose and, then, the BCCI gets into the picture'. I’ve got more important work to do,” Chappell said, grinning.
He added: “I do feel I’ve taken up this job at the right time'. In every sphere, after all, the boom has either set in or is about to happen'.”
“The economy is growing, industry is getting bigger...and, yes, India has the potential to dominate cricket...,” he said.
Clearly, a poor ODI ranking hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of one who swears by that classic quotation mounted on the National Cricket Academy walls here: “Falling down doesn’t make you a failure, but staying down does.”
Chappell, who has already announced he expects nothing less than a “commitment to excellence” from everybody, didn’t miss it on his Academy tour earlier in the day.
Incidentally, he’s going to have a room at the hi-tech Academy.
“I’m not prescribing a formula, but it’s important to persist and persevere'. Cricket isn’t only about having the skills, for much of sport today is mental'. Those most successful are the ones with the toughest minds,” Chappell explained.
There’s speculation whether he will ask for a vote at selection committee meetings. However, his mind isn’t made up: “Let me first talk to the selectors'. We need to work towards a common goal'. I’m not sure whether a formal vote is necessary.”
What’s not in doubt is that Chappell wants a “core group” of 15-20 players to be quickly identified. Understandably, he’s looking for team-players and not stars.
Chappell has been insisting he doesn’t possess “all the knowledge”, but whatever he knows should impact hugely once the business-end of his (“24x7”) appointment begins with next month’s tri-series in Sri Lanka.
By then, Judith would have perfected the namaste.