Former India batsman Suresh Raina credited ex coach Greg Chappell for helping develop youngsters in the team, and shed light on the relationship dynamics between seniors and juniors when he broke into the team in mid 2000s. In his autobiography ‘Believe’, excerpt of which was published in mid-day, Raina said Chappell played a huge role in bringing in the likes of MS Dhoni and Irfan Pathan to the team.
“The team that Dada (Sourav Ganguly) created has always been widely appreciated for making a mark in cricketing history," he writes.
“However, the credit for so many of us youngsters making it into that team goes to Greg, since he was the one who prepared us to take that challenge.
“He and Kiran More Sir, as the chief selector, were the ones who supported this move. Greg is the number one talent-hunter. He always ensured that the youngsters got their due in the Indian team. And he played an enormous role in getting the likes of RP Singh, MS Dhoni, S Sreesanth, Murali Kartik and Irfan Pathan among others to play for India with a lot of success."
Talking about the dressing room dynamics, Raina said there was occasional ‘unrest’ between seniors but stressed they would never ‘rag’ juniors.
“The Indian team during my time was like a family. And like in every family, there were times when everyone didn’t get along with each other the way you would expect them to. There were some tense moments within the dressing room during Greg’s tenure as our coach.
“Rahul (Dravid) Bhai was a really good captain that way. He would make sure our performances weren’t affected due to those issues. So, we as younger players would never be involved in such situations. Whenever they would have their meetings, we would go out for running or training and thus had no idea as to what happened behind closed doors. In my eyes, Greg was never wrong, since he always strived to make sure the team was on its toes and never favoured any one player.
“Greg was ruthless when we lost, but most of it was directed towards the senior players. I do agree that he should have respected them more—people like Sachin and Dada. “Once Greg had asked me to go practise a day before the match, prior to the scheduled training session for that day.
“I remember one of the senior players of the team came up to me to mock me, saying that I was the only one who got all the ‘extra’ practice sessions as if it was only me who was going to play the match. So, I quickly asked him to join me because I had no intentions to hurt anyone. For me, ragging was no big deal since I was used to that, thanks to my hostel life. But I wouldn’t say anyone ever got ‘ragged’ in the Indian dressing room. Believe me, I know what ragging is. We didn’t have that. What we did have were some tense moments with some players. There were instances when we would greet some of the senior players in the morning, and they wouldn’t greet back. But I never took these to heart.
“There were certain players, like Rahul bhai and Sachin Paaji, who were revered in the dressing room. They would try to keep things calm. Another significant change at that time was Dravid replacing Dada as the captain. So, it was the accumulation of all these factors that led to the occasional unrest among the seniors.
“It was a transitional period for the team. Not every junior player felt comfortable in that situation. But my relations with Rahul Bhai were very good."