Former coach lifts lid on turbulent tenure November 13, 2007

Greg Chappell accuses Indian board of cover-up

Cricinfo staff

Greg Chappell: "Had it been one of the players who was attacked there would have been an outcry, but because it was me no-one seemed to care" © AFP

Greg Chappell believes he was the victim of a racist attack during his difficult two-year tenure as India's coach, and in an ABC documentary to be screened next week, hits out at the Indian authorities who he feels attempted to play down a serious breach of security at Bhubaneswar Airport, in the eastern state of Orissa.

The team had just arrived to play a one-day international against West Indies in January this year when a fan burst out of the crowd and threw a punch at Chappell. "I got hit on the side of the head and my immediate reaction was 'he's broken my jaw'," Chappell told the documentary team.

Although there was a suggestion at the time that the lack of local representation in the Indian team was the motive for the attack, Chappell was not so sure. "Indians are very quick to complain about racism," he said. "There are plenty of Indian cricketers the guy could have attacked but he chose to attack me."

According to a report in the Australian Chappell elaborated on the events that followed the incident, in particular the lack of action from the Indian board. "As I said to the BCCI in a letter, had it been one of the players who was attacked there would have been an outcry, but because it was me no-one seemed to care. The reply came back talking about my racist comments.

"There was a cover-up," he added. "Everyone went into cover-up mode. It was quite obvious it was a serious assault. It wasn't just a push in the back as the media was led to believe. The whole thing was played down. The only phone call I got from the BCCI asked me whether it really happened."

As far as Chappell was concerned, there is no question what happened. "This bloke came in from behind and gave me a whack in the right ear," he told the Australian. "Luckily he yelled out as he was leaping through the air to punch me and gave me enough warning to pull away a little bit.

"It was still a fairly solid blow. My legs buckled, but I had a briefcase on wheels with a long handle and I was able to use it as support to stop me from going down."

Chappell quit as India's coach four months later, following a disastrous World Cup campaign, but he claims that the incident cemented his decision to walk away as soon as his contract expired. In fact, he felt he should have gone sooner, after the BCCI reversed his attempts to inject new blood into the Indian squad by recalling older players such as Sourav Ganguly.

"I probably had the chance to walk away at that stage but you can't walk out halfway through something you've taken on," said Chappell. "In hindsight it may have been the better thing to do but I had committed to be there for that period of time so I decided I'd see it out."