BCCI Review Committee meeting September 27, 2005

An amicable fudge

Anand Vasu on a compromise which papers over the cracks but solves nothing



Greg Chappell: his reservations remain deep rooted © AFP
On what was thought to be judgment day for Indian cricket, where the captain and coach virtually came head-to-head, it's difficult to see how an uneasy truce was thrust on them by the review committee of the board. After a long meeting - lasting well over four hours - where people were summoned to depose individually and then called up together, Ranbir Singh Mahendra, the president of the board, announced: "The committee is of the view that cricket has to go forward. Both the coach and the captain have to work things out mutually, and their professional working relationship is one to be maintained. For this, performances will be the criteria, and this applies to the captain as well as to the coach and the players."

Despite the board having reiterated that performances are the criteria on which captain and coach will be judged, it is difficult to see what could have been said to bring about a change of heart in either party. Anyone who has read the now well-publicised email Greg Chappell sent to the board will admit that his reservations about Sourav Ganguly are deep-rooted. It is not merely one incident that Chappell has complained about. It his character, his perceived tendency to run away from express fast bowling, his work ethic ... the list is long. And in reply, Ganguly had not minced his words either. "What can you say about the character of a man who sits down to write an e-mail like this, hours after calling for a truce?"

That truce - and it was the most orchestrated and fake one you are ever likely to see - began and ended with a few handshakes and a photo-opportunity posing as a game of pool that fooled no-one. This one is unlikely to be built on stronger foundations. For the moment though, it seems as though all parties have swallowed the bitter pill, in the hope that the forthcoming series - against Sri Lanka and South Africa - will somehow lead to matters sorting themselves out.



Ranbir Singh Mahendra: 'Don't put words in my mouth ... the matter has been resolved amicably' © AFP
The result will be hailed - especially in Kolkata - as a victory of sorts for Ganguly. The board has cleared him of faking injury, with reference to an incident that occurred at Mutare during a warm-up match, blaming the whole thing on a "miscommunication." However this will take nothing away from the fact that Ganguly, more than Chappell, will be on trial each time India plays. He has been short of runs, especially against quality attacks, and real security of his position in the team, as captain or batsman, will only come with runs. No amount of endorsement from a committee will help in that regard.

"Don't put words in my mouth. The matter has been resolved amicably," said Mahendra, when it was put to him that the board was once again sweeping a delicate matter under the carpet. Allow yourself a chuckle, for it was only days ago that an acrimonious annual general meeting of the board was "adjourned amicably", after a whole day of haggling, court cases, counter cases, and mudslinging. Then, it was unclear what made Sharad Pawar's camp change their minds and "adjourn amicably". Now, it is unfathomable what could have prompted Chappell and Ganguly to resolve their issues in a similar manner.

Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo