The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Presentation counts, not performance
- Accountability... just what is that'
Gloves Off
Greg Chappell

Sharad Pawar promised “harsh measures” after Team India lost to Sri Lanka, which effectively put them on the flight home from the World Cup (confirmation came when Bangladesh beat Bermuda), but the debacle’s review has seen accountability largely being given a miss.

Actually, nobody in authority even got a rap on the knuckles, with Greg Chappell rewarded instead of being asked to take the quickest flight home.

As for the captain, Rahul Dravid, he has been retained till the July-September tour of England.

It’s shocking that the coach only accepted partial responsibility, unlike Dravid, yet Pawar requested him to extend his association with Indian cricket!

Chappell, therefore, could become the latest consultant from overseas. With the emphasis on the so-called process and vision, Pawar and Co. forgot everybody must eventually be judged on results.

Intriguingly, the consultant bit wasn’t tabled during Saturday’s working committee meeting.

Twenty-three months isn’t a short period, but nothing went right on the biggest moments in the Chappell era. Be it the Test series in Pakistan or the Champions Trophy or the tour of South Africa.

As for the World Cup, the less said the better.

Team India did have ODI wins at home, but most were against under-strength sides — England (2005-06) and Sri Lanka, a couple of months ago. About the only real feather in Chappell’s cap would be winning the ODIs in Pakistan and the Test series in the West Indies.

Yet, when Chappell made his audio-visual presentation on Friday, the BCCI mandarins were “mesmerised.” They were bowled over by what he had to say, but nobody raised the issue of performance.

Unbelievably, no questions were asked during the working committee meeting either.

A high-on-vision presentation helped Chappell ‘beat’ Tom Moody in the summer of 2005. Something similar helped him get a consultant’s offer.

Has the BCCI sent the right signal'

Somebody with questionable man management skills can never wear the coach’s hat and former captain Krishnamachari Srikkanth was probably spot-on in saying Chappell gave nothing to Indian cricket.

Chappell could argue he didn’t always get the team of his choice, but that’s the challenge of coaching in an environment with pulls and pressures.

The late Bob Woolmer, for one, adjusted superbly.

Horror stories are emerging about Chappell’s behaviour in the dressing room and at team meetings. If a poor shot from X or a bad spell from Y cost India a match, the coach would keep talking about that lapse.

“It affected the players’ morale and had such a negative impact that confidence suffered,” one of the administrators told The Telegraph.

That Chappell couldn’t manage the dressing room became evident within four months of his succeeding John Wright. One is referring to his much-publicised spat with the then captain, Sourav Ganguly.

Ask any coach and he’ll accept man management is the biggest component at the highest level. Somebody who has come through the ranks, for example, has to be treated somewhat differently from a rookie.

Chappell may have wanted to bust the star-system, but it could’ve been attempted differently. Not at the cost of breaking Team India.

Even if Wright had weaknesses, he was an outstanding man manager. That’s why he’s respected, quite in the manner of Pakistan’s Intikhab Alam.

One won’t forget Intikhab massaging Imran Khan’s worn out shoulders on the eve of the 1992 World Cup final, at the MCG. “Kabhi kabhi yeh sab bhi karna parta hai,” he’d remarked, getting his captain to grin.

By the next evening, the world was at Imran’s feet.

It’s strange that Pawar encouraged the (failed) move aimed at getting Chappell to reconsider not wanting an extension.

It was driven by the need to rein in Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav. Perhaps, even Harbhajan Singh and Virender Sehwag, who has become everybody’s favourite whipping boy.

‘Fix the seniors’ has been topping the agenda of some in the amateurs’-run BCCI. It’s possible the seniors are at fault, but the solution doesn’t lie in fixing them. Indeed, a few would probably be glad to wring the necks of some in the BCCI.

Bold decisions do need to be taken, but they’ve got to be cricket-driven, not with an agenda. Even if its ‘intervention’ can’t exactly be welcomed, the working committee has been smart in directing the selectors to pick a “young team” for Bangladesh.

It makes sense to send the Manoj Tewaris and Rohit Sharmas. Even the Ranadeb Boses. If we’re intimidated by Bangladesh, there’s nothing to say.

However, the Tewaris shouldn’t be used as pawns.

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