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The Rediff Interview/Greg Chappell
You don't become world champs with one win: Chappell
December 23, 2003
Australian batting legend Greg Chappell believes that India's campaign Down Under will only get tougher after their Test victory in Adelaide.
Speaking to rediff.com, Chappell, the last Australian captain to lose a Test match at home to India before Adelaide, said there will be increased expectations from people back home and that will put added pressure on the team.
"It is easier to come from behind and win than to lead from the front," Chappell said.
Contrary to popular belief in India, Chappell said India would not start as favourites in the Melbourne Test on Boxing Day. "India has a lot of work to do," he said. "They have been successful and they have had some success. But it will be harder from here on. If the Australians were complacent, they won't be in future."
Describing India's first win on Australian soil in 22 years as the best thing for world cricket, Chappell praised the newfound resolve in the team and skipper Sourav Ganguly.
"India played well to start with," he said. "Rahul Dravid played well, [V V S] Laxman played exceedingly well. There is a new resolve there and most of that stems from Sourav Ganguly. When I met him a few months ago I was impressed with his resolve to make a difference to Indian cricket. That is a huge part of it. [Coach] John Wright must take some credit for the win.
"The biggest difference is that Ganguly has shown real leadership and commitment towards improving his team's record away from home. That is noticeable in the way they have gone about their fielding, which was very good. Their batting had discipline in the last Test.
"But Ganguly's innings in Brisbane set the theme. That can't be underestimated. His commitment to changing the record overseas, making Indian cricket competitive away from home, gives them a chance to win."
Chappell hinted that a series victory for India would be the start of a new world order. "The Indian team is a talented batting lineup, which is the most important part to succeed in Australia," he said. "I think there is a chance that we will see a change. I have always maintained that India was the best-placed team to challenge Australia because they have the talent. They needed the commitment, the desire, and Ganguly is instilling that in the group as a leader."
Chappell, however, said he would not make a big issue of Australia's loss. "They had been in the field for ten hours. These things can have an impact on batsmen. They were slightly off for that part of the game. It only proves that if you have a good contest and one team switches off, it can prove costly."
But he is not ready to write Australia off as yet. "They were beaten by a better team over five days in Adelaide," he said. "[But] to do it once is one thing, and to be able to do it over a period of time is something else.
"India needs to do this again and again and again. Australia has been winning home and away since 1989. You don't become world champions with one win. They have done a lot of hard work and a lot more has to come."
Chappell said it would be fair in one sense to compare Dravid's batting to the classical approach against the modern day aggressive intent of the Aussies.
"But Dravid had little choice," he said. "They were up against the wall and Dravid had to bat time and bat for a very long time. It was probably not necessarily the plan. At times circumstances force you to play one way. Dravid got good support from Laxman and that turned the game."
Chappell also believes Ricky Ponting can be the world's best batsman. "Ponting is an excellent player," he said. "Over the next five years he has the potential to be the best player in the world. So does V V S Laxman. He is one of the best players in the world I have ever seen."
With 279 runs from four innings so far, Laxman has been India's most consistent performer in the first two Tests with scores of 75, 24, 148 and 32.