Mumbai, Sept. 27: Patch-up No. 1 was specious. It’s to be seen whether the second coming together of Sourav Ganguly and Greg Chappell ' this time away from the public glare ' actually holds or goes the Harare way.
Soon after the BCCI review panel rejected Chappell’s career-threatening allegations against the captain, there was speculation that he would put in his papers.
For his part, Chappell declined to answer his cell. Instead, he sent a terse SMS: “Sorry unable to comment, don’t bother to call.” It suggests the patch-up hasn’t entirely been to his liking.
If Chappell does take the extreme step, the Sharad Pawar camp is bound to make it a jumbo issue within the BCCI.
For the record, both Sourav and Chappell have “promised” they would work together. “A working relationship has to be maintained. It’s about mutual trust and our cricket has to move forward,” explained BCCI president Ranbir Singh Mahendra.
Bottomline has been the “best interests” of Indian cricket.
Accused by his coach of faking injury and being divisive, Sourav said he was “very happy” with the clean chit as the charges were “very serious”.
Nobody went on record, but sources confirmed today’s report in The Telegraph that the BCCI would have considered doing away with both if an understanding wasn’t reached. That must have been conveyed to Sourav and Chappell.
Chappell, it may be recalled, took Sourav apart in an e-mail (which, obviously, was supposed to be confidential) to Mahendra.
The captain hit back as hard, if not harder, in his rebuttal which was placed before the six-member review panel.
The panel, comprising three officials ' Jagmohan Dalmiya, Mahendra and S.K. Nair ' and as many former captains (Srinivas Venkatraghavan, Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri) met for over four hours at the Taj Mahal hotel.
Chappell was called first and his interaction lasted over an hour. Next, manager Amitabh Choudhary was questioned for around 25 minutes. Sourav, too, spent over an hour in the room overlooking the Gateway of India.
Once the depositions were over, the panel met on its own and proposed a patch-up. Chappell again got called first; Sourav came later.
In the first round itself, Sourav was asked whether he had reservations over working with Chappell. Apparently, he asked for his name to be cleared. That done, he wouldn’t have a problem.
Chappell’s view couldn’t be ascertained.
The joint meeting lasted about 20 minutes. Sourav and Chappell shook hands, but given the tone of their allegations, nobody suggested they pose for photographs. Just as well as a repeat of Harare, when both even played pool for the benefit of lensmen, would have been nauseating.
Choudhary, who’d rejected a couple of Chappell’s allegations on the very day he returned (Sunday), again spoke up for Sourav on the issue of dividing the team and skipping training sessions.
Most of the questions from the panel, it seems, were fired by Shastri who isn’t known to be favourably disposed towards Sourav.
Gavaskar, as expected, backed the captain. As for Venkat, his stand wasn’t clear.
The officials, of course, had one agenda: encourage the captain and coach to come together and end the negative publicity bleeding Indian cricket.
It’s fingers crossed now.