|Chappell, Ganguly: Friends again'
Johannesburg, Dec.19: If Rahul Dravid had kind words for predecessor Sourav Ganguly after the historic win over South Africa yesterday, coach Greg Chappell went a step further this afternoon.
Interacting with select Indian journalists at the Intercontinental Sandton Sun & Towers, Chappell said: “If he (Sourav) does the things he did in the game here, he has quite a long career ahead of him. Mentally, he looked a different batsman.... Everybody’s relationship with him is fine and his relationship with everybody is fine.”
Sourav top-scored with an unbeaten 51 in the first innings and, till he got out for 25 in the second, had looked good.
Given that Chappell never had anything as positive to say about Sourav (“a well-credentialled player who deserves respect”) in the past 15 months, he has publicly ended a “war” which often encouraged extremely passionate positions.
Chappell, however, insisted there had been “nothing personal or emotional” from his side.
“Hopefully, we can now go forward without a cloud hanging over the head that personalities are involved. It’s not about Greg Chappell and Sourav Ganguly, it’s about Indian cricket. It’s about what a successful team needs to do. We’ve all been rather cautious about what was spoken for fear of distortion.”
He acknowledged that Sourav’s arrival in Potchefstroom, before the four-day match, led to a “volatile situation because of the emotions surrounding the whole thing”.
“I would like to think both of us have been professional enough to go through it all reasonably smoothly. He has to speak for himself, but I’ve been comfortable.”
(Sourav told The Telegraph he, too, was “absolutely comfortable” on his return to the Team India dressing room.)
Recalling an observation by Sourav during a recent team meeting, Chappell said: “Sourav made the point that the past 10 months had been a period of learning and that he realised there was more to life than cricket. To be fair, he probably needed time away — to reassess his position of not being captain — and for Rahul (Dravid) to take over that role.
“My philosophy is that everybody has to be on the same plane and working in the same direction where disciplines a good team requires are concerned.
Zaheer Khan went through a similar thing. He has accepted he had to go through it (also being out for 10 months) to come where he is. Sourav was in the same boat.”
Going back to September 2005 and Bulawayo, when he and Sourav had the most talked about “one-on-one”, Chappell remarked: “Look, even in Zimbabwe, I knew he had a lot to offer as a batsman. Problem was that from the captaincy point of view he’d reached a stage where it was taking up a lot of the mental space needed for batting.”
Chappell did say that the “demands” of one-day cricket are different, but one needn’t read too much into it. For, he also went to the extent of stating he would (generally) be willing to “compromise”. Sourav’s last ODI was in Harare, 15 months ago.
Significantly, he confirmed that Sourav was part of the “senior leadership group” in the ongoing series. The other day, the former captain accepted life had come “a full circle” for him. Ditto for his relationship with Chappell.
Footnote: Briefly interacting separately with The Telegraph, Chappell elaborated on Sourav’s batting in the first Test: “I was hopeful he would do well, because he’d been good at nets and in the first innings in Potchefstroom. At the same time, it was one hell of an ask. Credit to him.”