Mumbai, Nov. 27: The cricket board today tried to put a cap on Greg Chappell’s middle-finger controversy by saying he was nursing an injury.
“There was no such incident or any attempt by the coach,” the Indian team’s media manager, M. Baladitya, said.
Yesterday morning before leaving his hotel in Calcutta for the airport, the India coach had told The Telegraph that he had indeed shown the middle finger, recognised as an obscene gesture worldwide. He had left to the imagination the target of his gesture.
A crowd outside Eden Gardens on the eve of Friday’s match was shouting “Go back, Chappell” when the coach came out of the ground and boarded the team bus.
At the news conference here today, Chappell and captain Rahul Dravid sat in silence as Baladitya said: “All the team members and coach Greg Chappell have enormous respect for the Indian fans and I am repeating what I said to the media in Calcutta that there was no such incident or any attempt by the coach.
“He had injured his finger while giving fielding practice to the team members and was only attending to it in the team bus.”
That is a judgement people who have seen the clip can make on their own ' whether an injury to the middle finger is tended by sticking it out of the window of a bus.
“This should be the end of the matter on this issue,” Baladitya added.
The last part of his statement means the Board of Control for Cricket in India has decided to brush the finger fracas under the carpet, though an opinion poll conducted by The Telegraph today overwhelmingly said people took it to be an insult to India.
A group of eminent people issued a statement, asking for an investigation into the incident.
“We do not think this befits a person of Mr Chappell’s outstanding sporting achievements,” they said.
Chappell held his silence on the controversy, speaking only on the match tomorrow as no questions were entertained about the finger.
Dravid, however, said what he thought of the behaviour of the crowd at the Eden. After the batting collapse, it started booing the Indian team and did not hide its support for the South Africans when they proceeded to wrap up the match with utter ease.
Booing the home side for a dismal performance is not new at the Eden or at any other ground.
Dravid referred to the booing and orange-throwing in 1983 Sunil Gavaskar had suffered at the venue as the World Cup-winning Indian team collapsed in the Test against Clive Lloyd’s West Indians in just over three days.
Dravid said: “I told others jokingly that we are in good company, in the company of the great Sunil Gavaskar who too had to face a similar reception in Calcutta as well as the 1983 World Cup-winning team.
“Luckily, I was not fielding on the boundary line like others who had to put up with the abuses,” he added.