| Greg Chappell at the Bhubaneswar airport on January 22, the day of the assault
Melbourne: Former India coach Greg Chappell has claimed that the fan assault on him in Orissa was a racist attack and the incident convinced him to not renew his contract with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
The former Australia captain has also accused the BCCI of covering up the incident, according to an Australian daily.
Chappell was manhandled at the Biju Patnaik airport in Bhubaneswar on January 22 by one Biranchi Maharana, a member of a local political outfit, in protest against the “non-inclusion of any player from the state” in the Indian team.
However in a statement issued on Wednesday, Chappell sang a different tune. He blamed a section of the international media for “attributing malicious motives” to his actions.
Chappell said some reporters were digging up the past to create problems for him. “I am dismayed that some sections of the media are intent on fomenting trouble by digging up the past and attributing malicious motives to my actions. I have already set the record straight in respect of all the issues that are being brought up now.
“I wish to reiterate that I have firmly put the past behind me,” Chappell said.
“It was a very emotional time when I made those remarks. It’s a long way back and I’d like to talk about other things now,” he added.
In a documentary — Guru Greg — which will be aired on ABC television next week, Chappell has said: “There are plenty of Indian cricketers the guy could have attacked but he chose to attack me. I don’t really buy the fact that he was talking about the lack of Orissa players in the Indian team.
“If that was the case, why didn’t he accost the chairman of selectors or someone else who might have been involved in the selection process' Why would he attack one of the foreigners in the group — me as coach' There’s a bit more to it than that,” Chappell said.
Chappell, now an advisor to the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) for its Centre of Excellence, said the assault convinced him not to renew his contract with the BCCI. “By that stage I had pretty much decided that the end of the contract was the end of the contract,” Chappell said.
The former coach said he had written a letter to the BCCI expressing his disappointment at the way the whole incident was handled.
“As I said to the BCCI in a letter, had it been one of the players who was attacked, there would have been an outcry. But because it was me, no one seemed to care,” Chappell said. “There was a cover-up. Everyone went into cover-up mode. The whole thing was played down. The only phone call I got from the BCCI asked me whether it really happened,” he added.
Denying Chappell’s allegation, Khurda SP Amitabh Thakur said that in spite of their repeated request, Chappell had refused to cooperate during the investigation. Neither did he lodge any complaint with the police, not did he gave his statement before the police. It was the police which had registered a case suo motto, took prompt action by arresting the accused, forwarded them to the court and filed chargesheet.
Present DGP, GC Nanda declined to comment saying that he had not gone through Chappell’s statement. He was also not at the helm at the time of the incident.
Till late on Wednesday, no comment was forthcoming from the BCCI.