February 1, 2000

Have faith in us, says Kapil Dev

It was an unusually warm welcome that the Indian team received when they arrived at Chennai from Perth on Tuesday. The players and the coach Kapil Dev were garlanded when they reached Radisson hotel from the airport for a brief stopover. The reception by the cricket officials and the hotel staff visibly surprised Kapil Dev. For, after all the team was not coming back victorious but had gone through a disastrous tour.

The questions at the press meet ranged from India's dismal performance to Kapil Dev's knee surgery. To the basic question as to what went wrong `Down Under', the Indian coach said "the television cameras have clearly shown from close quarters about the lack of technique and temperament in detail and there is scope for improvement." He went on to add, "it was a new team and needed time to settle down." On the hectic tour programme, Kapil said that "the schedule was made before I took over as coach."

On his first assignment as coach, Kapil Dev said "I did have difficulty on the tour as regards the schedule and lack of planning. But the boys co-operated well and in future the tours hopefully will be well organised.'' He was of the view that the players should get enough rest on the tour.

On his remarks about Azharuddin not being popular, Kapil said "I will not like to comment on it and would like to speak only about the Australian tour.'' In reply to a question whether players like Ajay Jadeja and Azharuddin were missed on the tour, he quipped ``Jadeja, Azharuddin and even Sunil Gavaskar were missed.''

To a specific question on BCCI secretary JY Lele's statement to the press on the team management keeping the Board in the dark with regard to the team selection for the one day games, Kapil said that he, the manager (Bhargava) and Tendulkar would send a tour report to the BCCI and as such he would not like to comment on the issue now. Both Tendulkar and Kapil agreed that certain things cannot be said in the open.

Kapil said the players needed a break and in the coming days he would sit with the physio Andrew Leipus, Tendulkar and BCCI officials to plan for the forthcoming series against South Africa.

A visibly upset Tendulkar said he was disappointed by the the team's performance in both the Tests and one-dayers. He believed in the continuity of youth policy and would discuss about it with the team and the BCCI. He was philosophical in his answer to the question of pressures on captaincy saying "there are ups and downs in one's life". He added that captaincy did not affect his batting and that he scored his first double century after he took over as captain.

Asked to comment on the newcomers in the side, Tendulkar said the youngsters were surprised to see hard, fast and bouncy wickets in Australia and he hoped for similar surfaces in India too. He stated that he would prefer players who got runs in domestic cricket on these pitches.

Commenting on some of the dubious decisions which went against him, the Indian captain said he was very disappointed and sad. He agreed that they turned the course of the match, but accepted it in the true spirit of the game.

On the controversial ball tampering issue he said "it was worth laughing at", a remark which lightened the mood at the press meet.

Kapil's parting shot was to say "have faith in us" while Tendulkar, looking at the reception given to the team, appreciated the people ``for standing with us".

The team manager Mahendra Bhargava, speaking to CRICINFO said he was disappointed with the team's performance, but was thrilled when he heard about the victory of the Indian Under-19 in the World Cup. He was sure the under-19 coach Roger Binny would have a word with Kapil about including some of the youth players in the senior team.

Later the team members disbanded and left for their home towns.