The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Patch-up, or else exit of both

Calcutta, Sept. 26: The Board of Control for Cricket in India will work towards effecting a “genuine” patch-up between Sourav Ganguly and Greg Chappell.

However, the BCCI may terminate the coach’s contract and also direct the selectors to drop Sourav as captain if it’s convinced their relationship is “beyond repair” and the dressing room spirit has gone for a six.

Even if a patch-up materialises, Chappell could be “rebuked” for exceeding his brief and Sourav given a slap on his wrists for his conduct during the controversial media conference in Bulawayo.

Just who is the boss is something that’s obviously going to be addressed.

“Our priority is to ensure that the image of Indian cricket doesn’t suffer any more. Yet, if the divide can’t be bridged, the option of removing both is bound to be considered. It’s also possible only one could be done away with,” a well-placed source told The Telegraph on the eve of the review meeting in Mumbai.

The source added: “Much, of course, will depend on how the captain and coach put forward their views on Tuesday.' The contents of Chappell’s e-mail (to the BCCI) are known, let’s see what Sourav has to say...”

When scheduled, the review ' featuring three officials (Jagmohan Dalmiya, Ranbir Singh Mahendra and S.K. Nair) and three former captains (Srinivas Venkatraghavan, Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri) ' was to have focused on the season thus far.

The Sourav-Chappell row, though, has upstaged the agenda. Both are to be present (the coach would have been, in any case) as also Amitabh Choudhary, manager on the Zimbabwe tour.

Till late tonight, it was unclear whether the review panel is going to take a decision on the biggest controversy since the 2000 match-fixing scandal or make a recommendation ' perhaps to the working committee.

Even a recommendation will carry more than mere weight and the role of the former captains is going to be “watched”.

As of now, one supports Sourav, the other Chappell. The third seems neutral.

Sourav, meanwhile, is ready to counter the allegations made by Chappell. He lost his maternal grandfather early today and couldn’t be contacted, but a confidant said he “isn’t afraid” of the consequences of tearing into the coach.

Harbhajan Singh certainly wasn’t yesterday.

“The e-mail has destroyed him (Sourav), but he’s determined to give it back as well as he can.' You could say he’s ready for what may even be his last battle.' Surely, Chappell’s e-mail can’t be the last word,” the confidant observed.

Indeed, the e-mail could boomerang, particularly the bit about the three-dayer in Mutare when Sourav came off for treatment of his right elbow before resuming and scoring 46.

That portion reads: “The next day I enquired of a number of players as to what they had thought of Sourav’s retirement. The universal response was...”

Chappell accused Sourav of dividing the team, but he himself was divisive. And, should a coach go around seeking an opinion on the captain, thereby belittling him'

Intriguingly, Chappell didn’t mark a copy of his e-mail to Choudhary, he simply informed him after it was sent.

Given that the e-mail runs into thousands of words, somebody has to ask whether the coach was preparing for the second and final Test (Harare) or trying to finish Sourav’s career.

The e-mail, as is known, was sent before the fake patch-up in Harare. Even a “genuine” one will need very special adhesive.

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