| Chappell: Loving it
Calcutta, Dec. 31: No cricket and certainly no individuals. That, then, was the ground rule for a telephone interview with Greg Chappell ' arguably the most talked about in India in the latter half of 2005.
However, when The Telegraph lobbed a cricket-specific question at the end, the Team India coach ' who spoke from Bangalore (where he stays in a premier Taj property) for almost half-an-hour ' didnít switch off.
Chappell came through as relaxed, but did indicate he would have been happier had his cellphone stopped ringing in this short break before the tour of Pakistan.
The following are excerpts:
The Telegraph: Was this Christmas your first away from home since retirement, almost 22 years ago'
Greg Chappell: Probably, yes'. In recent years, we would celebrate either in Sydney or Canberra, with (wife) Judithís sister'
TT: So, what did you do in Bangalore'
GC: We called up our children and had a quiet meal with friends' Because of their commitments, we knew neither Stephen (a fighter pilot, currently undergoing advanced training outside Australia) nor Belinda (employed by Virgin) nor even Jonathan (studying in Brisbane) would be able to come. We missed them, but'
TT: What are your plans for ushering in 2006'
GC: Again, nothing more than a quiet meal at the Taj itself' (Biomechanist) Ian Frazer and trainer Greg King are here, as is Vikram Rajvir Singh, who is undergoing rehab' I suppose Judith and I will invite them.
TT: Youíve hardly spent much time in Bangalore, but how long did it take Judith to settle down'
GC: Actually, she loves India and took to Bangalore straightaway' That weíve got friends here made it easier. (After a pause) Judith, too, has been travelling' Belinda came when I was in Zimbabwe and the mother-daughter duo toured Agra, Rajasthan, Pondicherry' They loved it.
TT: Why did you choose Bangalore as your home in India and not, say, Mumbai'
GC: Because of the National Cricket Academy' As most of the camps are to be hosted by the Academy, it made sense being in the city where itís located' That way, I wouldnít be travelling all the time.
TT: Where were you during Wednesday eveningís shootout at the Indian Institute of Science'
GC: At the Taj' I got to know about it through your SMS, when you enquired whether I was anywhere close to the incident.
TT: Did it unnerve either you or Judith'
GC: Oh, no' Thereís a greater chance of something (terrible) happening to us while weíre in a car' Having said that, we wonít stop driving around because something may happen' Thereís a risk in living and shootouts can occur in any part of the world' You canít, I believe, live by worrying about your life.
TT: The risk level for Stephen, though, is consistently very high'
GC: Well, even for him, the chance of something happening is greater when heís in a car rather than his aircraft'
TT: Whatís your take on terrorist hits'
GC: Look, Iím no expert to offer a comment' (After a pause) Itís disappointing, but somebody with a grievance may take it out on society' One has to, therefore, factor that into our lives' Usually, such attacks are done in an ad-hoc manner.
TT: Back in May, did you expect to become arguably the most talked about in India by the year-end'
GC: Certainly knew I was slipping into a high-profile job' Knew I would attract plenty of media scrutiny' The enthusiasm (for cricket) is amazing' In India, itís multiplied by at least a thousand.
TT: Is there one stand-out memory'
GC: Many' All revolve around the extraordinary interest' Itís overwhelming and with such support, cricket in India can only get stronger.
TT: Have you taken a fancy to desi cuisine'
GC: Except for fish occasionally, Iím a vegetarian and there has never been a problem choosing from a spread of quality veggie items' I havenít had difficulty adjusting. Neither, for that matter, Judith. Incidentally, I canít recall the preparation, but I had a lovely fish-oriented meal before the recent ODI in Calcutta' Next time, perhaps, you could suggest something even better!
TT: Has your Hindi improved'
GC: Having been with the boys for many months, I get a grasp of what theyíre saying (in the dressing room) without actually getting to know everything. However, Iím able to pick up the nuances much better. Itís about experience!
TT: Today, how do you look back on 2005'
GC: I tried to be the best I could' Obviously, every decision of mine couldnít have pleased everybody, but I lived with integrity' As an individual, I couldnít have done more.
TT: Your thoughts for the new year'
GC: Iím looking ahead with excitement' With optimism' Iíve embarked on an exciting adventure and have 16-odd months (of the contract) remaining' Each year begins and ends differently, throws up fresh challenges' Iím looking forward to the tour of Pakistan, to taking on England in India and, then, going to the West Indies' I havenít thought beyond the summer.
TT: When young, were you into making new year resolutions'
GC: (Laughs) Never to the point that I had to go on a diet or not do a particular thing' Or, for that matter, do something in particular' Throughout, Iíve set reasonably clear goals and regularly assess what has gone and what lies ahead. Thatís in my system.
TT: For a while, at least, do you intend returning to Sydney after the West Indies'
GC: Not sure' Itís possible that the family may assemble in the US' I will, of course, definitely take a vacation once that tour ends.
TT: Finally, one on cricket --- is the No.2 spot in the ICC Test rankings going to put Team India under greater pressure'
GC: Itís better to move up than down' For me, though, the No.2 bit is just an interesting sidelight' Essentially, rankings are an indication and will improve if players improve individually and collectively. Climbing up, moving forward' Thatís my mission' As we step into 2006, the boys are on the right path.