Greg Chappell is not the most popular cricketer in India in spite of being one of the greatest batsmen to have played the game. Chappell was the coach of the Indian cricket team from 2005 to 2007 and got into a number of controversies with the captain Sourav Ganguly in what was one of the most turbulent periods for Indian cricket. The great Australian batsman states that it was Ganguly who insisted on hiring him and ironically it was also because of his ways and methods that Chappell had to cut short his coaching stint with India.
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Chappell reiterated that it was the incumbent BCCI President who had seeked the services of the Australian legend and he lapped it up as there could be nothing more exciting and challenging than being at the helm of affairs of a cricket-crazy nation like India.
“Ganguly was the one who approached me about coaching India. I had other approaches but I decided that since John Buchanan was coaching Australia… I would love to coach the most populous, fanatical cricket country in the world, and that opportunity came about because Sourav, who was the captain, made sure that I did.”
Chappell added he soon realized the ethos and culture in the Indian team and stated that it was very challenging. He added that Ganguly was only interested in being captain and did not want to work on improving his game.
“The two years in India were challenging on every front. The expectations were ridiculous. Some of the issues were around Sourav being captain. He didn’t particularly want to work hard. He didn’t want to improve his cricket. He just wanted to be in the team as captain, so that he could control things,” quoted Chappell.
Chappell further stated that he wanted to bring about a change in the thinking and culture of the team but there was massive resistance to his ways and methods. He added that the team did well under the leadership of Rahul Dravid when he was coach. Chappell praised Dravid the team man but questioned the selfish play of several other senior Indian cricketers including Ganguly.
“Dravid was really invested in India becoming the best team in the world. Sadly not everyone in the team had the same feeling. They would rather concentrate on being in the team. There was some resistance from some of the senior players, because some of them were coming to the end of their careers. When Sourav got dropped from the team, we had a lot of attention from the players, because they realized if he can go, anyone can go.”
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Chappell signed off by saying that the pressure from within the team had got to him and the message was that they did not want change. He added that he could have continued as the coach but did not want to deal with that kind of stress.
“We had a great 12 months, but then the resistance got too much, Ganguly came back into the team. The message from the players was loud and clear – ‘We don’t want change.’ Even though the board offered me a new contract, I decided that I did not need that kind of stress,” added Chappell.
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