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Greg: Take care, mate

- Former coach conveys condolences to bereaved Sourav
Greg Chappell in Calcutta on Tuesday. Chappell is scheduled to deliver the second annual Tiger Pataudi Memorial Lecture, a joint initiative of the Bengal Club and The Telegraph in association with the Oberoi Group, on Wednesday evening. Picture by Gautam Bose

Calcutta, Feb. 26: Greg Chappell and Sourav Ganguly don’t exchange greeting cards, but that didn’t stop the former from telephoning to offer condolences.

It’s a gesture which should ease some of the strain in their relationship.

Chappell, a former Australia captain and India coach, who is in the city to deliver the Tiger Pataudi Memorial Lecture, called Sourav around 6pm today to condole the passing away of his father, Chandi.

“Sourav... (wife) Judith and I have been deeply saddened.... Please accept our deepest condolences in this very difficult time for you and the family,” Chappell told the former India captain who’d figured in a headline-monopolising spat with him in August-September 2005.

Chappell and Sourav spoke for a couple of minutes, with the latter enquiring about the duration of the former’s stay in Calcutta.

The conversation ended with Chappell telling Sourav “take care, mate”.

Their spat, on the tour of Zimbabwe, cost Sourav his place in the team and he had to make more than one comeback in the next 15 months or so.

Sourav, however, lost the captaincy for good.

Chappell, understandably, didn’t wish to go down that path but did insist that there had been “nothing personal”.

“There was nothing personal in anything I did during my 23-month tenure. I had the good of Indian cricket at heart at all times. Everything was done with the best of intentions.

“I had a duty towards fans in India and I tried to do my best. I’d been employed by the board, not by the players,” Chappell pointed out, speaking exclusively.

Asked if he had regrets, Chappell replied: “No regrets, but life wouldn’t be worth living if one didn’t have a range of experiences. There were moments of happiness, moments of big disappointments, like the 2007 World Cup.”

But why did he become controversial?

“Largely because of the huge expectations, some of which were unrealistic in every way. Because of the high expectations in Indian cricket, everybody is under pressure.

“Whatever happened can’t be changed and trying to relive it day after day won’t help. The World Cup was huge and it became the focal point,” Chappell explained.

An all-time great batsman, Chappell quit as coach after India’s first-round exit in the 2007 World Cup, around 13 months before the end of his three-year contract.

Now 64, Chappell is Cricket Australia’s National Talent Manager and a much sought-after speaker on the circuit. Recently, he addressed a group of civil servants from India on tour in Australia.

The theme: Excellence.

Tomorrow evening’s lecture is a joint initiative of Bengal Club and The Telegraph, in association with the Oberoi Group.

Footnote: After lunch at Red Hot Chilli Pepper (“great food”), the Chappells went across the Vidyasagar Setu and, then, had a look at the Eden (“very different now”) from the outside.


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