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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Indian cricket will surely pay!

Indian cricket will surely pay!

September 28, 2005 14:36 IST
If Greg Chappell has any self-respect, he should take the first available flight to his native Australia. The Indian Cricket Board's six-man Review Committee has dubbed him as a liar, nothing less, and acquitted captain Ganguly on all counts that the coach had brought against him.

Some analysts have interpreted the wishy-washy compromise between the two agreeing to work on the basis of professional mutual trust as a tame draw. It was hardly that; instead, it was an outright victory for the accused, with the prosecutor left shaking hands in defeat.

Prem Panicker: Is Greg Chappell a liar, Mr Mahendra?

It smacked of a mistrial really. Just see how Amitav Chowdhary, the team's manager to Zimbabwe, was summoned as a witness to show that the captain had not faked his finger injury at Mutare, but there is silence on the views of the team's physical trainer and its psychologist regarding their professional assessment of captain Ganguly's physical and mental fitness as well as on his diligence in adhering to the fitness programme chalked out for him.

Chappell had mentioned Ganguly's effort to create insecurity in the middle-order batsmen by carrying tales about Chappell's worth of them. But neither Laxman and Dravid, who were cited in support of the coach's charge, was summoned before the Review Committee.

Chappell had alleged that Ganguly was afraid of facing bowling of the Shane Bond kind. There's nothing in the trial's announced verdict read out by the Board's president as to whether the two among India's most courageous batsmen ever -- Gavaskar and Shastri – were asked to rule on that allegation on the basis of what the duo had had seen of Ganguly in the last couple of seasons or so in the course of their television broadcasts of Test matches and one-dayers.

What the Review Committee seems to have decided is to have ruled that since the charge of faking injuries was disproved by a solitary witness, all other accusations of Chappell were also not true. What kind of a judgment is that?

One aspect of the verdict was outrageously beyond its jurisdiction. That was the decision that Ganguly

would continue as captain. The right to that decision really belonged to the Cricket Board's officially elected five-man Selection Committee or to the Board's Disciplinary Committee. The least and the fairest thing for the Review Committee to do was to request the selectors to take a final view after their own assessment of all aspects of Ganguly's captaincy, batting and fielding in the last two domestic seasons or so, including the series against Australia and Pakistan, as well as what they saw on the television coverage of the series abroad.

Indian Cricket's Mahayuddh

Another facet of the verdict was inane, meaningless. It pertained to the ruling that, like in the case of the players, the criteria for even the coach would henceforth be his performance. What, pray, is the stipulated standard of the 'performance' of the cricket coach? Would the coach be held responsible for every match Ganguly's team loses from now on? Should John Buchanan be blamed for Australia's failure to retain the Ashes recently just because, in the Oval Test, first, Hayden in the slips, dropped centurion Pietersen on duck, and then Warne, also at slip, dropped Pietersen when he was at 15? By the way, does our Board's new 'assessment by performance' of the coach mean that Chappell's existing three-year contract will be amended as a series-by-series appointment?

It was shameful that three ex-India captains on the Review Committee appear to have supported its announced verdict even without a note of dissent.

All that happened in Mumbai on Tuesday turned out to be a big attempt to escape the reality of today's Indian cricket team losing 15 finals in a row. It represented the reality of the Indian Cricket Board's penchant for impotent compromises and impotent inquiries. The Board and Indian cricket will surely pay for such softness in days to come.

Meanwhile, Greg Chappell would earn the genuine cricket lover's respect if he took the first available flight to Australia. Do that, mate, even if you have to pay the fare for it from your own pocket. At least you'll have preserved the dignity of the MBE insignia you flaunted at the end of your historic six-page e-mail.

Arvind Lavakare