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Home > Cricket > The Cup > Reuters > Report


Coach Chappell's unfulfilled India sojourn

Sanjay Rajan | April 05, 2007 11:30 IST

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The great challenge of guiding a talented yet misfiring Indian team to the top saw Greg Chappell take up one of the most demanding coaching jobs in cricket two years ago.

But after 22 tumultuos months the former Australia captain quit the cricket-crazy country on Wednesday, a vilified man.

The 58-year-old's experimentation policy was always resisted by the team and in the final analysis he was blamed for a divide in the team and for India's first-round World Cup exit in the Caribbean.

He handed in his notice two days before the Indian board meet to delve into the World Cup debacle.

Chappell's stint will be best remembered for personality clashes with two of the country's most successful cricketers.

Barely four months into his new job, the former South Australia coach was involved in a public spat with then-captain Sourav Ganguly over a leaked e-mail that eventually led to the Bengal left-hander's sacking.

On Wednesday, leading batsman Sachin Tendulkar reacted angrily at suggestions Chappell had questioned the attitude of senior players at the World Cup.

Between the two incidents, both of which turned into raging national debates, Chappell stumbled from one media-fuelled controversy to another.

Chappell took over in May 2005 from New Zealander John Wright, who served successfully as the country's first foreign coach for almost five years.

It was not long before he had sparked outrage.

CHALLENGING POSITION

Television images of Chappell making a rude gesture towards fans in Kolkata protesting at Ganguly being dropped from the team in November 2005 angered fans as well as politicians and triggered country-wide protests.

The team had started a successful run, however, notching up a record 17 consecutive one-day victories when batting second.

This went some way to pacifying his detractors.

Chappell's tenure yielded mixed results, but the inability to progress beyond the group phase as hosts in the Champions Trophy last year and India's shock exit in the Caribbean World Cup proved the final straw.

In Wednesday's statement released to the media, Chappell thanked the Indian board for the coaching opportunity but said: "It is, and it remains, one of the most challenging coaching positions in world cricket."

The post is both high-profile and highly lucrative with the country considered the corporate nerve-centre of the game.

But this also has its flipside as Chappell witnessed during his tenure.

The weight of expectation in the billion-plus populated country can be tremendous and at times unnerving.

The national cricket team is under the spotlight and their every move documented on and off the field.

The World Cup-frenzy in India had been fuelled by a multitude of television channels and media houses, who tracked the action minute by minute raising expectations to unrealistic levels.


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