The BCCI paid Greg Chappell a huge premium to take on the job of Coach of the Indian cricket team. His goal was to transform Team India. Remember he made his case to Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri and S. Venkatraghavan (I think) and convinced them of his vision for Team India. Bottom line, whatever this vision was, it has not materialized. He should take responsibility and quit instead of sticking around to wait for the BCCI to decide on the future course of action. (there were rumors prior to the World Cup that he would most certainly be asked to continue). Its as simple as that.
After the World Cup debacle, there has been some talk of retaining him under the pretext that there is not much the Coach can do if the players don’t perform. Though this might be partly true, there has to be a sense of accountability especially when there is so much at stake. And it has to start with the Coach. It is important to dissociate Dravid from Chappell because Chappell is a hired gun, while Dravid is still India’s mainstay and almost impossible to replace as a player in the team. Without doubt he is far more valuable to the team than Ganguly, Sachin and Sehwag combined. So it would be a bad choice if the BCCI chose to throw the baby with the bath water!
A coach can add value to the team provided he is a good thinker and strategist at heart. If you think back to the 96 world cup, Sri Lanka won because they deployed a strategy of attacking from the get go with Jayasuriya and Kaluwathirana. These batsmen were hitting over the infield, and literally sixes were flowing from the first over! This was unconventional and took the opposition by surprise. A coach definitely has a role in developing this kind of strategy. The batting order is another area. The bowlers used in matches is something the coach can influence too. Here are a few such areas where Chappell clearly failed to deliver.
- Sehwag has been repeatedly under-bowled by Dravid every single time? Chappell as a Coach could have influenced this trend over the last 18 months especially when India has always had a problem with the fifth bowlers quota of overs.
- Chappell’s view was that the middle overs were crucial and hence Sachin dropped down the batting order. This was a terrible mistake. Sachin has been at his best in the opening slot.
- Sachin was out in identical fashion (as in the match against SL) to the same bowler when SL toured India recently. The Coach can certainly point this out and get a player of Sachin’s stature to rectify this. Sachin, Sehwag, VVS and to a certain extent Dravid have all developed a weakness to the incoming ball. Mohammed Asif, SL’s Fernando and other bowlers have repeatedly exploited this weakness. Chappell as coach simply failed to address this.
- India never had a decent fifth bowler and none of the other four are genuine strike bowlers who can grab a bunch of wickets. An out of form Pathan and an unused Sehwag is what the team was left with in the final analysis.
- There is no credible all rounder in the team either. Irfan Pathan was a great find but he was overexposed and burnt out well before the World Cup. Rotating the players so they don’t get burnt out is a key piece of strategy that Chappell failed to put in place. Sehwag is another example of someone who should have been rested or dropped well in advance of world cup.
India had no strategy in place to address any of these shortcomings. In fact, the team that went to the World Cup in 2003 (the credit for which should go to John Wright and Ganguly) was not very different from the present team! If there was a grand vision that Chappell stepped in with, it begs the question as to what it was and what came of it and why? In the final analysis, now that the end result is there for all to see, Greg Chappell must take responsibility for all this. In any sport ultimately the players have to deliver. But the coach can’t hide behind this excuse and has to take ownership.
Lastly, the accountability should not stop with Chappell. Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri and Venkatraghavan (or whoever else), the team that selected Greg Chappell should also be quietly phased out to bring in other former players into the decision making process. These folks obviously fell for Chappell’s sales pitch. Its time to bring in some fresh thinking at the very source.