India in Australia 2011-12

'Indians weren't really interested in Test cricket' - Greg Chappell

Sidharth Monga in Adelaide

March 7, 2012

Comments: 334 | Text size: A | A

Greg Chappell faces the media shortly after India's arrival in Johannesburg, November 14, 2006
Greg Chappell: "The culture of India is such that, if you put your head above the parapet someone will shoot it" © AFP
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Players/Officials: Greg Chappell | MS Dhoni | Virender Sehwag
Series/Tournaments: India tour of Australia
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Greg Chappell, India's former coach, has said that India "weren't really interested in Test cricket" on their tour to Australia, and that "Test cricket is pretty tough for them". Chappell was speaking at a promotional event for his book, Fierce Focus, at Adelaide Writers Week. It was an interaction full of endearing anecdotes about his playing days until a member of the audience - which might have been close to 200-strong - asked him about India's apparent disinterest in Test cricket, and how it might adversely affect Test cricket overall, considering how the BCCI controls cricket today.

"It was obvious from the start of the tour that the Indians weren't really interested in Test cricket," Chappell said. "After the Australians showed that they were going to be a formidable foe, I was very disappointed with the Indians. And having worked with many of them and having been in the dressing room with them, Test cricket was too hard for most of them. They can only make a lot of money playing 20-over cricket. Fifty-over cricket they can sort of put up with.

"Test cricket for a lot of, not only India, a lot of subcontinent teams, I think it's pretty tough. And the challenge for Test cricket is, without the sort of grounding that we [Australians] had as kids, Test cricket is too hard. It's very demanding mentally, physically and emotionally."

Malcolm Knox, Chappell's co-writer, then brought the discussion back to the book, and pointed out how Chappell had marked out Virender Sehwag's fitness and attitude and Zaheer Khan's fitness as key issues for India. "You can throw in attitude for Zaheer as well," Chappell interjected.

Chappell then spoke about what was wrong with the Indian culture. "The culture is very different, it's not a team culture," Chappell said. "They lack leaders in the team because they are not trained to be leaders. From an early age, their parents make all the decisions, their schoolteachers make their decisions, their cricket coaches make the decisions.

"The culture of India is such that, if you put your head above the parapet someone will shoot it. Knock your head off. So they learn to keep their head down and not take responsibility. The Poms (British) taught them really well to keep their head down. For if someone was deemed to be responsible, they'd get punished. So the Indians have learned to avoid responsibility. So before taking responsibility for any decisions, they prefer not to."

 
 
They lack leaders in the team because they are not trained to be leaders. From an early age, their parents make all the decisions, their schoolteachers make their decisions, their cricket coaches make the decisions Greg Chappell
 

Chappell said MS Dhoni the Indian captain, was one exception to that rule, but even he seems to have lost to the system. When asked if any Indian captain, when on 329 not out himself, would have declared the innings, Chappell said: "If MS Dhoni would have ever got to 329 in a Test match, he probably would. Look, Dhoni is one of the most impressive young men that I have ever worked with. When he came into that Indian team, you just knew that he was a leader in the making. He was definitely someone who could make decisions, and he didn't mind putting his head above the parapet, and didn't mind putting the bigger players in their place. I think he is the best thing to have happened to Indian cricket in recent times.

"But looking at him on this tour - I didn't meet or speak to him at all - but just watching the body language and just watching him on the field, it wasn't the MS Dhoni that I knew. I think Indian cricket has worn him down as well. Especially captaining all three formats, and India plays about 50% more cricket than Australia does. And Dhoni played four years, captaining three years while being wicketkeeper and their key batsman - one of the best chasers of a target that I've ever seen. Very confident, very un-Indian in that regard. There was no false modesty about him. If he thought he could do something, he would take responsibility and say 'I can do that.'"

Chappell also felt Sehwag's captaincy ambition hurt the Indian team. "Sehwag thought he should be captain after [Anil] Kumble, so there is a bit of a collision there," he said. "I think Dhoni is getting to a point where Test cricket is getting too hard for him, and the undercurrent around the dressing room cannot help."

Chappell said that Test cricket needed a strong India. "I think Australia and England will always look at Test cricket and try and preserve it," Chappell said. "South Africa to a lesser degree. Up until this summer I thought India as well. We probably had four major Test-playing countries, and the others would play Test cricket spasmodically.

"Because firstly most countries haven't got the critical mass of players to develop Test cricketers and most of them don't have the money. Cricket Australia probably spends in excess of 20 million dollars a year in development programmes, which includes first-class cricket - huge investment to develop a Test team. I am not sure many other countries have the will to do that. If the financial circumstances change for Australian cricket, it will be very tough for Australian cricket too.

"If of the three formats, one of them is under pressure, it's Test cricket. In ten years' time, it might look very different from the way it looks today. And for those who have grown up with Test cricket and hold it in high stead, we are going to probably be a little bit disappointed with the way it goes in the next few years."

Edited by Kanishkaa Balachandran

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by ajoshi2 on (March 10, 2012, 5:07 GMT)

There is a grain of truth in what he says. But how can you characterize a country of 1.3 billion in one fell sweeping statement. I used to think he is an intensely intelligent man. But he still has not come to terms with his disastrous stint as the coach of Indian team. Denial is clouding his judgment. India does produce leaders. Ganguly and Dhoni are good examples in cricket. We have competed well abroad, in test matches, when this team was at its peak. Their current performance is a result of failure to create proper transition plans. We will go through a transition and come out stronger.

Posted by Shaun_wick on (March 9, 2012, 22:41 GMT)

I think the bottom line is, Indian team is not good team over seas, Specially away from sub continent. Don't worry, when India play cricket in India next time, they will win (as they can win mainly in India) and all crowd will back to India. I am totally confused how this kind of team became as a world champions. Are they really world championship?

Posted by CornerstoneGreen on (March 9, 2012, 17:24 GMT)

India's strength is totally being Indian and all that goes with it. Indians cannot become australian and vice versa. India lost everything under this greg. Indians were successful as Indians. And just tuning that alone will bring winning days back. Some misunderstanding in dressing room and lot of old players. That is the problem. Australians are sitting in another man's land. That's how their leadership qualities too will be. We Indians won't do that. In cricket as well. We will win in our own terms, not Greg's.

Posted by soumyas on (March 9, 2012, 15:14 GMT)

@Vishal_07 , u r damm right

Posted by Abdurrazaaq on (March 9, 2012, 14:54 GMT)

Indian cricketers struggled with the conditions and most of the key players were off form. It could happen to any team.

Posted by annys on (March 9, 2012, 5:11 GMT)

sub continent teams are bad at test cricket, oh yes australia can you play offspin hahaha your best batsman mr pointing could'nt defend against offspinners hahahha what a shame:)

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (March 9, 2012, 4:26 GMT)

INDIANS WEREN'T INTERESTED IN TEST CRICKET . CAN CHAPPELL EXPLAINS ME WHAT HAPPENED TO AUS IN LAST ASHES WHICH THEY LOSE TO ENG BY 3-1 AT HOME , WHAT HAPPENED TO AUS IN 2008 & 2010 INDIAN TOUR . WHAT HAPPENED TO AUS IN CAPETOWN TEST (47 ALL OUT OR I CAN SAY 21/9 )? DOES AUS TEAM LOSE INTEREST FROM TEST CRICKET DURING THAT PERIOD OR AUS DOESN'T HAVE LEADER WHICH CAN WIN ASHES ? BE READY FOR A THRASHING IN INDIA LATER . WE R ALREADY PREPARING DUST BOWLS IN CHENNAI , DELHI . MOHALI WILL ALSO HELP SPINNER .

Posted by   on (March 9, 2012, 4:11 GMT)

Look, as a foreign based Indian, I have to agree with Greg - he is spot on. Our players are amongst the most talented in the world -- but they tend to collapse when faced with determined opposition, especially when touring England and Australia. Less so when touring other (less culturally aggressive and, yes, less white cultures). We have beaten "them" at home and abroad, but less often and less convincingly. What is this due to if not cultural/psychological? Its a national issue, not just a cricket one. Look at the great Leander Paes -- a nobody as a singles player, but a world beater when paired with a european partner. Back to Indian cricket -- hire a team psychologist and get back onto a winning habit.

Posted by Vishal_07 on (March 9, 2012, 3:19 GMT)

Greg Chappell is unique. He is the only person ever who has been fired by the BCCI and considering the administrators, selectors, and players BCCI is involved with, that is quite an achievement. Of course he is sulking, since he got fired India attained #1 Test ranking and won the World Cup, but after the England and Australia tours he got his opportunity to come out and speak against the Indian team and India and he did it.

Posted by wake_up_india on (March 9, 2012, 3:16 GMT)

Besides Don Bradman, name one famous Australian leader of anything. Couldn't name a single? Sorry, time up.

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