India's coach Greg Chappell has announced that he will not be seeking to extend his contract, which is to come up for renewal. Akhila Ranganna spoke with the former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar on what he made of Chappell's decision.
SM - It was entirely his decision, may be he also learnt through the grapevine and just talking to some people in the BCCI that they were also not keen to extend his contract. As a self respecting individual he may have thought this is the best way forward. It's sad that we could have him for just two years. He was a coach who certainly left his mark. It's a little sad, that the end has come in this fashion.
AR - Sanjay, just looking back what good you think he brought to Indian cricket and conversely where do you think he perhaps went wrong that led to all this acrimony towards the end?
SM - His greatest contribution was showing Indian cricket the mirror. We get very emotional about our cricket about our players, we would like to believe that we are World beaters, when we win at home and go to the World Cup. We think we are good enough to win the Cup. We some times over rate our own players, because we are so obsessed with our own cricket that we don't look around too much and compare our players with the others. So here comes an Australian, and that is the Australian way of doing business. They don't beat around the bush. Basically what he did was what John Wright couldn't do for four years, he showed the nation what the team was all about, what problems it had.
He also told the individuals what problems they had. Theoretically I think he did a wonderful job. But the next challenge for him was to try and make most of the ability in the boys. He wanted to help and facilitate a good healthy environment and hopefully that would win games for India. This didn't quite happen. I think the youth that Chappell and Dravid experimented with let them down slightly, which is not their fault, may be we will have to re look at Indian Cricket, why the youngsters who were given the opportunity didn't quite make it. Even though they were playing in good batting conditions and home conditions sometimes you couldn't have it. He also made some contributions that we need to take note of which is something Wright never revealed during his tenure, as Chappell did. He has actually shown us in black in white, what is right and what is wrong in our cricket.
AR - But obviously of all that that's happened, a lot of reports in the media of players saying they are not able to trust their coach, a lot of accusations going back and forth, where do you think perhaps he could have gone wrong in his demeanor as a coach that things came to such a situation?
|I am not going to exaggerate a coach's importance to a nation's cricket. It is finally up to the players to go out and play well, which we have not done|
SM - We hired an Australian coach and this is the way he conducts his business as a coach. When you get a foreigner, he won't have the tact of an Indian or an Asian, who understands the emotions and sensitive nature of our people. If we wanted a foreigner, then we should have been prepared for his methods. I think we were not. Finally I think the results let him down. If India would have gone on to win more matches than they lost under his tenure as coach, things would have been different. But to expect a foreigner to understand our psyche, it may not happen. There could be a few foreign coaches who could understand the mindset of Asians and how they have to be handled. But if you are going for a foreign coach you better be prepared that he is not going to like you, he is not going to say things that you are used to. He is going to sort of shake you out of your comfort zone, and that is something we need to be prepared, if we are going for another foreign coach. We have to be prepared for their methods too as they will be different.
AR - So Sanjay, do you believe in a sense the fact that Chappell has said that he doesn't want to extend his contract, it's more a loss for Indian cricket looking ahead?
SM - I am not going to be too dramatic about this, because more and more I see the role of coaches and its impact on cricket, I don't think one individual, who doesn't even step on field, is going to be a loss to Indian cricket. I am not going to exaggerate a coach's importance to a nation's cricket. It is finally up to the players to go out and play well, which we have not done. There is only so much a coach can do. I am not going to say, it's going to be a dramatic loss. Let's have another coach. I just feel sad, that a legend like Chappell came and just lived for two years with us. We wish he could have been there for more and made a contribution that Wright did. But who ever the coach is, finally let's hold the players responsible for our performances and our results. It's the players who go out there on the field and are primarily responsible. They are the ones who make the difference.
AR - So Sanjay, you just said, who ever the next coach is obviously going to inherit a team where a lot has happened, a lot of things have gone back and forth. What do you think he needs to do and what do you think the path forward should be?
SM - I think the selectors have to be given more of a role than just invited for their suggestions. The selectors know the Indian players well, they have been traveling with the Indian team, watching domestic cricket. They are the guys who are involved closely with the process of selection, they are in touch with the BCCI and with the players. They are very closely connected with the activities of the Indian cricket scene. They are the guys who got to take the part forward and decide what is best for India. We have to concentrate on the players that are coming through, coach, of course, is important but not half as important as a player in the team. Let's focus on the 15 guys, that where important decisions need to be taken. How do we go forward in one day cricket, we need to bring back youth in one day cricket. Is experience doing enough for us? Is it delivering? These are the decisions that people who are closely connected on a day to day basis with Indian cricket have to take. Coach is just another decision, not the most critical one.