March 27: When the body begins to stink, the worms crawl out of the woodwork.
It is not exactly unknown that India coach Greg Chappell didn’t get the team he had wanted for the World Cup — as has been written earlier in this paper — but further proof of his unhappiness has been revealed in a purported SMS he sent to an Indian journalist on February 17, weeks before the World Cup .
According to a PTI report, the SMS sent on the morning India was playing Sri Lanka as part of the pre-Cup one-day series at Visakhapatnam, the coach wrote: “Even in the last selection meeting, I fought for youth. The senior players fought against it and the chairman (of selectors, Dilip Vengsarkar) went with them out of fear of (the) media, if youth did not perform.”
The journalist confirmed having received the SMS from Chappell. In a television interview tonight, the coach declined to comment on the SMS.
He said in the message that senior players in the side resisted the inclusion of younger players and Vengsarkar fell in line with them, fearing criticism if the youngsters failed. It has been reported earlier in this paper that Virender Sehwag made the flight to the Windies on a ticket captain Rahul Dravid extracted for him over the objection of Chappell.
Ever since he took charge as coach, Chappell has been trying to promote youth and his choice Suresh Raina failed to make the squad as the selectors settled for experience — or safety, as his message suggests.
Chappell said in the message: “Suresh Raina is a must. But he was not wanted.”
Raina had been given opportunities before but did not grab them with both hands, leading to his being overlooked for seniority. In the end, however, the seniors came up with empty hands when they were called upon to stand up and deliver.
Chappell’s differences with Vengsarkar are also not secret. Unlike Kiran More, who he succeeded and who was a follower of the so-called Chappell way — something that was displayed clearly over dropping Sourav Ganguly — Vengsarkar has insisted on his voice being heard.
He certainly was one of the key forces behind Sourav’s return, though the former captain played the bigger hand by working hard at the comeback.
There will be those who will wonder why the SMS has popped out of the journalist’s inbox and into the open now that the Cup is over for India, the answer is: it’s the season for muck to fly back and forth.
It is not uncommon for players and others in key positions — coaches, for example — to confide in journalists under an unwritten vow of secrecy. So it is unusual for the journalist to disclose what was obviously said in confidence by Chappell, the reason why it was kept under wraps so long.
Observers speculate whether the SMS has been revealed with or without Chappell’s knowledge. In a twist of irony, the leak of an email sent by Chappell to the board had compounded Sourav’s woes.
Chappell is known to be interested in continuing to coach India, a matter the Sharad Pawar-led cricket board will decide shortly. If it becomes known the SMS was leaked with his knowledge, it might queer the pitch for Chappell.
Here’s a piece of good news from Chappell’s purported SMS.
He thinks highly of Dinesh Kaarthick and believes Yuvraj Singh is brilliant but perhaps a little swollen-headed. “Kaarthick will be a very good batsman and by the way, he is a potential leader,” the coach wrote.
“You are also very right about Yuvi,” the SMS attributed to Chappell read. The coach was referring to the journalist’s article in which he had said of Yuvraj Singh: “The problem with Yuvraj is that he believes he is a star when he is only a rising one.”