The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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ĎOne needs leadership across the teamí
- Realistically, we should look to make the World Cup semi-finals, says Coach Greg Chappell

Johannesburg: Team India coach Greg Chappell spoke to select Indian publications (including The Telegraph) on Tuesday afternoon. The interaction lasted almost 90 minutes.

The following are excerpts:

On whether the decision to bat at the Wanderers was something which came easy to Rahul Dravid

It wasnít easy... But, then, you lose a big advantage (in Tests) if you donít choose to bat after winning the toss... Rahul made a courageous decision.

On the most crucial partnership

The one between Rahul and Sachin Tendulkar, which added 69 for the third-wicket in the first innings. If theyíd gone early, we may not even have scored 100. Letís face it, the wicket wasnít easy.

On what the 123-run victory holds for the rest of the series

Itís a big confidence booster... (After a pause) Where our ODI performances are concerned, the truth is somewhere between the extremes ó our excellent run at the start of the year and the recent losses. However, itís amazing what confidence can do and what a lack of confidence does.

On whether the ODI defeats affected the process he has been trying to put in place

Definitely slowed down the discussions...

On team spirit remaining high despite the 0-4 rout in the ODIs

Thatís the best thing and it happened in the West Indies as well, when we came back to win the Test series after the 1-4 loss. In Pakistan, too, we won the ODIs after being defeated in a hard-fought Test series... What Iíve seen is that the Indians (by nature) are resilient.

On the seniors beginning to play a bigger role off the field as well

For a team to be good, a strong leadership group is required... We had a meeting in Potchefstroom where it was decided that, from then on, things had to come from within the group... The coaching staff had done what it could do and, now, it was time for the leadership group to take over... The players had a meeting where the coaching staff wasnít present and they understood the need to get better and stronger... Rahul involved the seniors (in a bigger way) as itís not possible for one man to do everything. The responsibility of captaining, including the emotional side, had become too much... The workload, the mentoring... It had to be shared... Obviously, the win there was important, but that in itself wasnít the turning point.

On having a leadership group

It certainly is an Australian thing, but wasnít as well defined (within Team India) as it is now. For example, the key moments in a game have to be grasped out on the field ó by the leadership group. One needs leadership across the team: Among the seniors, at the middle level and among the juniors.

On whether Virender Sehwag, who was vice-captain till the ODIs, didnít discharge responsibilities

It wasnít that... But even two canít do the job, you need four-five seniors... (After a pause) I donít know why he lost the vice-captaincy and I donít have a comment.

On Indiaís pace attack delivering at the Wanderers despite being short on experience

Weíve been asking the boys to do a manís job... Sree did it, but it will be tough to do it again (soon). The physical and emotional strain on him was huge. Backing up day after day isnít easy, more so as the grounding hasnít been there in domestic cricket.

On MoM Sreesanth

Always knew he had the ability... Weíd been impressing on him that pace isnít the most important thing... Consistency is important, not bowling magic balls... That itís all about how consistently youíre able to land the ball in the right areas... Sreeís seam position was perfect and came out beautifully... I havenít seen anybody do that with the same degree of consistency... He managed it six times in an over... You wonít be successful if youíre looking to (aggressively) take a wicket on every ball... Good batsmen are able to handle pace, what they canít is variety... Good bowlers work out the length they need to bowl and Sree was superb. Munaf (Patel) learnt it quickly in the West Indies...

On Sreesanthís interaction with the legendary Allan Donald before play on the second day

The beauty is that Donald talked about the thought process rather than the physical process. Itís all very well to understand mechanics, but the engine of the mechanics is the brain and, really, the thought process drives the mechanics. What Sree understood is that he had to bowl one good ball after another.

On Sourav Gangulyís comeback

He has always been a strong character and his will and desire to play for India has been second to none... At one team meeting, Sourav revealed that the realisation that cricket wasnít everything in life had taken the pressure off him... If you think that every innings is (all) important, then you wonít bat with freedom... Sourav, I think, is more relaxed now.

On whether the victory at the Wanderers has given him a fresh perspective on ODIs

(Laughs as the question coincided with his taking time to have water) Canít say why it took me time! Weíre always reviewing the situation and itís about getting the best team... The demands (of ODIs) are different... So , what works for the Test team doesnít necessarily work for the one-day team... The win has given us options to think about, but thereís time... Realistically, we should look to make the World Cup semi-finals... From then on, any team may win. When the teams land in the West Indies, even the best wonít be guaranteed to take the Cup home.

On whether he would be willing to compromise in the ODIs

Youíve got to be prepared to compromise at all stages in life... Runs made is more important than runs saved on the field, but thereís a balance thatís non-negotiable... Weíre trying to get that balance right... Iím not the only one involved with selection, there are six others.... Iím definitely going to place my views strongly, but at the end of the day, Iím just the coach and have to work with the team thatís given to me. Iím happy doing that... I wonít stand on a philosophical argument which doesnít give us the best chance of winning the World Cup.

On how he reacts to criticism

Same as everyone else... Donít enjoy it any more than anybody else does... But worrying wonít help... There are certain things that I understand are important, but I canít expect everybody else to (a) agree with them or (b) understand them... (After a pause) It depends where the criticism comes from... Iím more likely to take note of critical comments from some...

On the emotions he went through when the team kept losing ODIs

I was frustrated, dejected... All the emotions came to the fore, but the reality had to be faced and work had to be done... Occasionally, shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic is what youíve got to do... I recall there were days as captain when I didnít have a clue left. If you show that, though, then youíre gone as that emotional state is contagious. As coach, I canít display that publicly... Throwing the baby out with the bath water wasnít an option as, within reason, we had pretty much the best group.

On whether his personality intimidates some players

Thatís why, in the coaching and support staff, nobody has the same personality... There are times when I get (biomechanist) Ian Frazer to convey a message, for Iím the wrong person to do so... Ian and I have different personalities, but donít think differently and I know he wonít convey mixed messages... Our masseur (Ramesh Mane) is a key member of the support staff as players often come to him when theyíre down... He massages their minds, too, and does convey messages ó of course, not like a secret agent! Fact is some relate to me better than others. Equally, I relate better to some... Some players can take a strong message and deal with it, others canít... Thatís the way it is...

Finally, on what have recent weeks taught him the most

That certain issues needed to be addressed and itís good we had to do it now rather than closer to the World Cup. It will stand us in good stead.

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