The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Some still bat for Chappell
- Gavaskar’s name on board table to tide over coach crisis

April 5: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president, Sharad Pawar, didn’t ask Greg Chappell to reconsider not wanting an extension once his contract ended on April 29, but a section within the BCCI wants exactly that to be done.

“If by the end of tomorrow’s review meeting we’re convinced that the coach can’t be faulted for our World Cup debacle, then the option of getting him to rethink is very much there. I wouldn’t rule that out. That Chappell may not wish to reconsider is another matter,” one of the office-bearers told The Telegraph.

He insisted one shouldn’t read too much into Pawar not asking Chappell to wait till at least the review in Mumbai.

“The president could’ve been taken by surprise when Chappell called last evening, but the reasons for our early exit are more important than individuals. What if the captain (Rahul Dravid) and the manager (Sanjay Jagdale) don’t have anything negative to say about the coach'”

That, by the way, is a distinct possibility.

Apparently, the hardliners want to use Chappell to “fix” some of the Team India seniors. It’s obvious that they will enjoy more freedom once he’s back in Sydney. However, that’s “only one side of a rather messy story”.

It couldn’t be confirmed, but there was talk that Chappell would meet Pawar over dinner tonight.

While the pro-Chappell lobby is still active, taking the cue from Kapil Dev, an influential section is actually moving towards “requesting” Sunil Gavaskar to take charge.

If not for a length of time, then at least for the next commitment — two Tests and three ODIs in Bangladesh, from May 10-29.

“A good many feel that’s the way forward at this point in time. Of course, a consensus has to evolve, but everybody is aware of Gavaskar’s stature,” said a well-placed source.

He added: “We’re not sure whether Gavaskar will leave media assignments for a 24x7 job with the Indian team, but we’re confident he won’t say no to helping out in Bangladesh.”

Any move will have to be approved by the BCCI’s powerful working committee, which meets in Mumbai on Saturday.

The talismanic Gavaskar couldn’t be reached for a comment till late. One learnt he was out of Mumbai and would return some hours before the review, to which he and six other former captains (including Kapil) have been invited.

Gavaskar was on the committee which appointed Chappell 23 months ago. In fact, 13 years ago, he wore the India coach’s hat for two ODIs after Ajit Wadekar had a heart attack in Sharjah.

More recently, in 2004-05, Gavaskar was taken on board as consultant following India’s dismal show in the Champions Trophy. The then coach, John Wright, wasn’t particularly pleased but had no choice and had to share dressing room space with him.

Getting back to Kapil, he’s the one who went on TV last night to declare Gavaskar is best suited for the coach’s chair.

Contacted on his cellphone, India’s lone World Cup-winning captain explained: “Frankly, at the highest level, we don’t need a coach. Instead, we need a good man manager. Sunny, to my mind, is best suited as he enjoys huge respect and loves the boys.

“Surely, Sunny won’t have to teach a (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni how to keep. He’ll have to give him confidence and ensure that nothing is found wanting in his and the team’s preparations.

“It’s not such a difficult job.... We didn’t have a coach when we won the World Cup (1983), but had a terrific man manager in Peter Man Singh.”

Kapil declined to speak on the Chappell era. “It has ended and, so, I don’t want to look back. But, yes, I’m looking forward to his report. I expect him to be honest with himself and with Indian cricket. If the BCCI has to learn from his report, then it must.”

Asked if he had fond memories of his own innings as the India coach in 1999-2000, Kapil laughed. “That was too long ago. Moreover, I’d quit (after being dragged into the match-fixing scandal). I don’t remember much….”

His ‘let’s-get-Sunny’ call won’t be quickly forgotten, though.

Footnote: It won’t surprise if in a departure from what has been announced, vice-captain Sachin Tendulkar also gets invited to the review.

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