|(From top) Sourav Ganguly practises with the Bengal Ranji team at Jadavpur University stadium at Salt Lake in Calcutta.Rahul Dravid receives a copy of his biography, The Nice Guy Who Finished First, from
Greg Chappell in Bangalore. (PTI)
Bangalore, Nov. 17: The Sourav Ganguly-Greg Chappell truce hasn’t been put to test. However, on the 52nd day after it was stitched together by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the former captain declared he wouldn’t have “any problem” with the coach whenever he returned to Team India.
“I’ve always respected Greg and it was I who went to Sydney in mid-2003 for a one-on-one with him.... Why, then, should I have any problem in forging a (fresh) relationship once the selectors bring me back' Both Greg and I are mature and can handle situations,” Sourav told The Telegraph this evening.
Speaking from Calcutta, he added: “The issue (of differences) got blown out of proportion by those who wanted to sensationalise.... I’d been silent all these days as I didn’t wish to add to what had been splashed all over.... I did so consciously.”
The Sourav-Chappell relationship soured with a capital S after Sourav confirmed during the Bulawayo Test that Chappell had asked him to step down ' the coach’s version, though, is different. It got worse after Chappell’s confidential e-mail to the BCCI brass, crucifying Sourav, got leaked.
The BCCI worked out a truce, after a review meeting in Mumbai on September 27, but the two haven’t come face to face since.
Tennis elbow symptoms ruled out Sourav for the first two international engagements (ODIs No. 1 and 2 against Sri Lanka) after Zimbabwe, but the selectors ignored him even when he became available.
It’s no secret that neither Chappell nor successor Rahul Dravid spoke up for Sourav in the three selection meetings ' Mohali, Motera and Vadodara ' after he’d recovered. That the team was doing exceptionally is, perhaps, one reason why the coach and captain didn’t bother.
To return, Sourav has to wait for the next selection meeting, in Chennai, for the last two matches of the ongoing series versus South Africa, or even till the squad for the first Test against Sri Lanka is picked in Mumbai (November 28).
The South Africans halted the run of victories, in Hyderabad yesterday, but Sourav’s comeback won’t be entirely influenced by the results both here (in the second ODI, Saturday) and in Chennai, which hosts the third match on November 22.
As important will be what Chappell and Dravid say before chief selector Kiran More and his colleagues. With Sourav signalling he would begin afresh, when given a chance, the ball is now in somebody else’s court.
Significantly, Sourav broke his silence a day after BCCI president Ranbir Singh Mahendra told a TV channel that the former captain would make a return and that he “couldn’t” be ruled out even for the 2007 World Cup. Chappell’s contract is till then.
While Sourav has clarified his position on Chappell, his stand on Dravid is no less unambiguous.
Asked whether he had reservations playing under him, Sourav countered: “Why is this being asked' You must remember that Mohammed Azharuddin and Sachin Tendulkar, both former captains, played under me when I got the captaincy in March 2000.'”
Intent on making a comeback, it’s possible that Sourav is reconciled to not getting the top job again ' certainly not in the very near future, if at all ever again.
Earlier, speaking to newspersons after a nets session in Calcutta, Sourav lauded Dravid for a “great job” and emphasised he was willing to “play in any position and perform any role”.
Describing Mahendra’s comments as “encouraging”, Sourav accepted that performance had to be the criterion for selection. Also, that a team couldn’t be dependent only on the captain, coach or some individual players.
Cricket is a team sport and Sourav is ready to play ball.