The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Greg goes halfway to buy peace

Calcutta, Sept. 19: Team India coach Greg Chappell made a conciliatory gesture towards Sourav Ganguly this evening, but a four-paragraph statement bearing his signature didn’t answer all the questions doing the rounds for five days.

The top one, clearly, being: Does the captain of a national team need to be motivated (Chappell’s explanation of his controversy-generating tete-a-tete in Bulawayo exactly a week ago) on the eve of a Test series'

In fact, can any captain ever be short on motivation'

Chappell’s gesture came after a 35-minute meeting between him and Sourav in manager Amitabh Choudhary’s 16th floor room at the Sheraton in Harare.

The meeting was called by Choudhary, who was advised by the Board of Control for Cricket in India to quickly “extinguish” the ‘I-was-asked-to-step-down’ controversy in the manner he thought best, at 9 am.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, the statement was jointly authored by Chappell and Choudhary (a senior IPS officer) and shown to Sourav before being released.

Media personnel at the Harare Sports Club, though, were directed not to ask statement-related questions during their interaction with Chappell and Sourav.

On record, the captain maintained “I don’t wish to speak about the issue”, but one learns he was “touched” by the statement.

That it was shown to him has to be treated as a gesture by itself.

A joint statement would have been better received, but the trio must have had reasons for not issuing one.

Incidentally, the statement ' which included “I have great respect for what Sourav has achieved in his playing and captaincy career and look forward to working with him in the future” ' was prepared while the team was practising.

Going back to the morning’s meeting, Chappell arrived first and shook hands with Sourav when he made his entry.

Apparently, both straightaway wondered how a “private conversation” between them leaked to the media ' albeit three days later.

Sourav, it may be recalled, triggered the numero uno controversy of recent years by acknowledging (at a media conference) that he had been asked to “step down” on the eve of the first Test.

He didn’t name Chappell, but only the coach could have asked him to do so.

In fact, despite Chappell’s statement saying “'much of what has been written does not represent the discussion fairly”, he did tell Sourav that (on form) he “didn’t warrant a place in the XI”.

The coach favoured Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif in the team, while the captain had place just for the former.

Given that the agenda was to “find a way out” of a crisis, neither Sourav nor Chappell specifically talked about what actually caused such a furore.

Of course, this was neither confirmed nor denied by Choudhary.

“All I can say is that we met in a healthy atmosphere and the vibes were positive from both sides. As the manager, I couldn’t be happier,” he said.

What Choudhary did add is that while inviting Chappell and Sourav, he’d made it clear the “controversy” had to end before the team set out for its pre-Test practice.

Chappell has done his bit formally, but gestures of a more personal kind are still necessary ' from both sides.


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