The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Enter Chappell & excellence

New Delhi, May 20: Greg Chappell was in a red T-shirt promoting George Bush’s home state, Texas, when he learnt of his appointment as the Team India coach.

The iconic Australian, though, changed into a shirt-and-tie before leaving his hotel room ' where an Apple laptop was all too visible ' for interaction No.1 with the media as John Wright’s successor.

“Yes, I’m straightaway into business. I hope the blue in my tie bears some resemblance to the India colours,” Chappell said, breaking into a grin.

The BCCI’s working committee must ratify his appointment (cleared by the six-member special committee), till June 2007, but that’s a formality. The next World Cup will be over before the contract ends.

It was The Telegraph which gave Chappell the “overwhelming news” 45 minutes before the official announcement and some 70 minutes before secretary S.K. Nair formally conveyed the BCCI choice.

The delay went unexplained and didn’t show the BCCI in good light. All the while, Chappell conditionally accepted the avalanche of congratulatory calls from across the globe.

Chappell, of course, was the frontrunner. That got reinforced after his superb presentation before the committee yesterday. Its decision, however, was put on hold till this afternoon.

The committee, which included former captains Srinivas Venkatraghavan, Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri, deliberated for a shade above 75 minutes before “unanimously” agreeing Chappell indeed was their man.

Shastri’s own five-minute presentation, which focused on the Chappell package, put the former captain and selector even more out of reach of the rest.

Stature, quite obviously, was Chappell’s USP. Also, the BCCI felt he alone could discipline those Team India players with a questionable temperament.

Moreover, the impact factor came into play: Chappell’s standing would lift India in the manner Bob Woolmer has changed Pakistan. Despite the pluses, mind you, he has consented to the remuneration given to his predecessor.

It appears the lone Indian in contention, Mohinder Amarnath, did come into the picture prominently when the day’s deliberations began, but didn’t grow stronger by the minute.

Given that nobody volunteered details, it couldn’t be confirmed whether Mohinder or Tom Moody ' now almost certain to coach Sri Lanka ' would have finished No. 2 had a listing been done.

Typically, Mohinder was gracious. “I wish Chappell the very best. I’m not disappointed. The committee’s credentials were impeccable and it made the right choice,” he said.

Desmond Haynes, who travelled the longest (from Barbados) to make the shortest and least impressive presentation, conceded Chappell had been the favourite.

“He didn’t get the job in 2000, but I sensed he was the frontrunner this time,” Haynes observed, jovial as ever, shortly before leaving for home via London.

Chappell himself checked out tonight to board a flight for Singapore and, then, connect to Adelaide. “I’m going to be back in mid-June,” he said, indicating wife Judy and he would make Bangalore their second home.

The National Cricket Academy, after all, is located there. Wright, a divorcee, had chosen Mumbai.

Before leaving, Chappell made his agenda known: Nothing short of complete commitment to excellence on and off the field would do. Like it or not, that’s his way.

Incidentally, Chappell received a congratulatory card from former BCCI chief Raj Singh Dungarpur, who was on the committee which chose Wright and not him in 2000.

Dungarpur has even offered honorary life membership of the CCI, an institution he heads.

“We’ve kissed and made up,” Chappell quipped.

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