Now, selectors tear into coach - 'If Chappell had his way, even Sachin wouldn't have been picked'

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  • Published 29.03.07

Calcutta: Selection committee chairman Dilip Vengsarkar declined to comment, indicating he would raise the SMS-issue with Board president Sharad Pawar, but two of his four colleagues tore into coach Greg Chappell while speaking to The Telegraph.

“Today, we can turn around and say that Irfan Pathan got picked only because the coach wanted him… Will that serve any purpose? Is that going to take Indian cricket forward? Will that give us a Super Eight berth?” asked one of the infuriated selectors, on the morning after Chappell’s SMS to a Bangalore-based journalist was made public.

The SMS had been sent less than a week after India’s 15-man squad for the World Cup was selected.

Among other things, Chappell messaged that he wasn’t happy and Vengsarkar was one of those who resisted the inclusion of youngsters at the expense of seniors.

“Chappell has no business revealing what happens at selection meetings… That’s confidential… If the squad wasn’t to his liking, he shouldn’t have signed on the selection-sheet. Or, he could have put a dissenting note. He didn’t… Chappell can’t act in one manner behind closed doors and quite another outside,” the other selector fumed.

He added: “In fact, if Chappell had his way, even Sachin Tendulkar wouldn’t have been picked… He’s against all seniors… Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag… He wants a young lot, the type to regularly wish him good morning and good night… That’s Chappell… I’m amused that he believes he’s answerable to the Board and nobody else… Being the national team’s coach, he’s first answerable to the country…”

For the record, Chappell (whose contract has, technically, ended with the World Cup) had this to tell the world at the pre-departure Media conference in Mumbai: “We have a good, balanced squad… Good experience combined with youth… We have good variety in bowling and batting that would give us a wide range of options no matter what the conditions or the opposition…”

As that interaction was many days after the SMS, Chappell hadn’t been truthful with the Media.

The SMS has evoked a strong reaction from former selector Ashok Malhotra, who was briefly stand-in coach during the April 2003 tri-series in Dhaka, as well.

“First, Vengsarkar acknowledged that Sehwag got selected because the captain (Rahul Dravid) wanted him… In other words, he himself wasn’t exactly happy picking him… Now, we learn that the coach wasn’t happy. What’s being suggested? Are we fools?

“Is Chappell trying to say that Suresh Raina would have done the trick? That’s a joke… Barring a couple of games where he had an impact, Raina has little to show from 36 ODIs… Bottomline is that Chappell has been a failure… This is a result-oriented world and he hasn’t succeeded. Chappell must accept that gracefully and go back to Australia.

“He had a poor record as South Australia’s coach… He hasn’t done anything with the Indian team either… Worse, by messaging he wasn’t happy with the squad, Chappell has conveyed that he wasn’t on the same wavelength as Dravid… That’s appalling and makes a bigger hole in his man-management abilities… In my view, the Board has to quickly look at somebody else,” Malhotra thundered.

Clearly, Chappell’s SMS has added to the rattled Board’s woes as it’s having to douse fires on many fronts.

It’s a tough ask.

“I’m definitely going to talk to him about it, but not immediately… Let the team return and let things settle down,” informed a hassled secretary Niranjan Shah.

Incidentally, the squad won’t be arriving together in Mumbai late on Wednesday. Sourav, for one, has stayed back in London.