New Delhi: ďLook, if I start giving five minutes to everybody, I wonít have any time left... Please understandĒ is how Greg Chappell kept Media personnel at bay till he interacted at a full-fledged news conference on Friday afternoon. Indiaís newest coach, though, spoke to The Telegraph for around 15 minutes (interrupted by numerous calls) in his Taj Palace room before tackling the Media in general.
The following are excerpts both from the exclusive chat as also the news conference:
On whether he slept well or remained tense overnight
(Laughs) Yesterday, I did say I was calm despite the endless wait to make my presentation, but I had actually been a bit tense then... The tension, however, evaporated once Iíd made the presentation... I couldnít, after all, have done more. Iíve been second time lucky, which is better than being so the third time!
| CHAPPELL FACTFILE
|Born on August 7, 1948, in Adelaide, Greg Chappell was one of the most elegant batsmen of his time. He scored a century on Test debut, signalling the start of a successful career. He succeeded brother Ian as the Australian captain and scored hundreds in both innings. His only coaching assignment, though, has been South Australia. Following are the highlights of a career which saw more ups than downs:
• Spent the first of his two seasons with Somerset in 1968 when elder brother Ian was with the Australian tourists in England.
• Made 108 on Test debut against England in Perth during the 1970-71 Ashes series
• He and Ian scored centuries in the 1972 Test at The Oval, becoming the first pair of brothers to do so in the same Test innings
• Took a career-best five for 61 with his part-time medium-pace against Pakistan in 1972-73
• Named one of Wisden’s five Cricketers of 1973
• He and Ian became the first pair of brothers to score hundreds in both innings of a Test (vs NZ in Wellington)
• Became the first player to take seven catches in an innings during a 1974 Test against England
• Succeeded Ian as Australia’s captain and scored a hundred in each innings in his first Test in charge (vs WI). Australia went on to win the series 5-1 with the skipper making 702 at an average of 117
• Lost the 1977 Ashes series in England 0-3 amid much distraction due to the Kerry Packer and World Series development
• Gained notoriety in a ODI vs New Zealand in 1981 when he asked youngest brother Trevor to bowl the last ball under-armed to ensure victory
• Scored 182 in his final Test (vs Pakistan) in Sydney where he overtook Colin Cowdrey’s then record of most catches (120) as well as Don Bradman’s then record Australian aggregate of 6996
• Test record: In 87 Tests, aggregated 7110 runs at 53.86 per innings with 24 hundreds and a best of 247 n.o. Also took 47 wickets with 5/61 as his best and 122 catches
• ODI record: In 74 matches, aggregated 2331 runs at 40.18 per innings with 3 hundreds and a best of 138 n.o. Also took 72 wickets with 5/15 as his best
• Test captaincy record: Led Australia in 48 matches of which he won 21, lost 13 and drew 14 for a success percentage of drawn 58.33
• ODI captaincy record: Led Australia in 49 matches of which he won 21, lost 25 and no-result in 3 for a success percentage of 42.86
Compiled by Ravi Kant Srivastava
On his outstanding presentation
A commitment to excellence, on and off the field, was the theme... It has to come from the players, the selectors, the administrators and from me... I shouldnít be seen as being critical of John (Wright), but much needs to be done to reach the next level. To be on a par with Australia, India has to put in the same ' if not a bigger ' effort. Of course, I also did have something about specific players, but wouldnít like to elaborate.
On coaching India being a huge job
Absolutely... Iím overwhelmed and, right now, thereís that touch of unreality... (After a pause) Itís an honour and quite definitely a big challenge ' certainly the most demanding at this point in my life... The collective well-being of India revolves around the cricket team, so thereís much responsibility on my shoulders... I never played in India, but Iím aware of the passion... Coaching any international side is a privilege, more so when itís not your country. Iíve landed the most exciting job in cricket.
On whether he regrets not getting the Australia job in 1999-2000
No... I was called for an interview when the hunt for Geoff Marshís successor was on, but (John) Buchanan got the nod... Opportunities do come in life and, now, Iím talking to you as Indiaís coach... If anything, today, Iím better prepared than I was six years ago.
On whether, having already worked with Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar, he starts with an advantage
Yes... I wonít be coming in from the cold, without having had any association with anybody.
On whether he intends having a specialist to take care of the bowlers
No one person has all the wisdom and knowledge. At some stage, then, help will be required. Iím going to speak to various people at different times and Iíll be involving various people at different times.
On a coachís role at the highest level
Essentially, heís a facilitator... Somebody who helps achieve a common goal... Somebody who helps put the pieces together... Cricket is a simple game, not rocket science, and thereís no need to complicate it... I do have my philosophy... The players, though, are going to provide inputs and have ownership over whatís done... Iíve got to sell my vision and there will be problems if they donít Ďbuyí it. Cricket teams are driven by captains and players ' the coach is only a facilitator.
On the No. 1 challenge
There are quite a few, but it wouldnít be proper to reveal everything through the Media. Iím not going to conduct my coaching through newspapers and TV channels. As Iíve said, a commitment to excellence has to be the force which propels. Obviously, the rankings (No. 3 in Tests and No. 8 in ODIs) have to improve, but canít be done overnight. The aim, however, is to do so sooner rather than later. Remarkably, Australia seem to get better and better ' that has to be our goal as well. If I can add, commitment to excellence is non-negotiable. Discipline, too, is non-negotiable.
On Team Indiaís recent performances not being encouraging
Canít say why... I have an understanding of what needs to be done, but I would first like to interact with the players. Working harder may not always provide the solution, but working smarter could... Getting that balance is going to be critical. I canít guarantee Iíll always be right, yet I need to be right more often than wrong.
On Sourav having had a tough time in the face-offs versus Pakistan and even Sachin not exactly having been consistent
Iím not going to comment on individuals... The will and discipline to quickly come out of a lean patch is important... Both are good players and are going to remain so... Such players donít grow on trees.
On whether he wants a significant say in selection
Itís important to have some say, but I canít talk more till Iíve had a discussion with the BCCI... I hope to build a relationship with the selectors... Indeed, thatís as important as the relationship with the players. (After a pause) I would like to look at a big pool in the off season camp, which could begin in end-June or early-July, to get an idea of the bench strength as the push towards the 2007 World Cup begins. Team India has the potential to win it.
On whether the Indians need a pro motivator on the support staff
I want not one but 15-16 motivators, all of whom will be playing for India. If playing for India (alone) doesnít motivate, then nothing else can and itís going to be a waste of time.
On whether he intends having a chat with Wright
Iíve spoken to him quite a few times, but donít intend doing so at this point in time... I wish to start my innings with an open mind and heart... Iíve come with eyes open and hope to leave with eyes open too.
On Wrightís four-and-half years tenure
John was ideally suited and Iím envious of the success he achieved... Anything I say or do ought not to be seen as a criticism of what he did.
On whispers he may not devote enough time in the off season
Iím into this full time ' 24x7 for the better part of the year. At this stage, I donít have commitments outside the BCCI.
On whether heís happy his contract is for two years
Yes... At the end, it will be clear whether I need to move on or look at extending it.
On the first Indian cricketer to have caught his attention
The Nawab of Pataudi (jr)... I recall watching him play a couple of the most exciting innings I ever saw ' with one eye and a hamstring injury ' on the 1967-68 tour of Australia.
Lastly, whether he could favour different captains for Tests and ODIs
Having one is ideal, but India could have to move in that direction at some point.