Cricinfo Exclusive November 13, 2005

Calculated gambles paid off - Chappell

The Chappell-Dravid combination worked wonderfully as India wrapped up the one-day series 6-1 © Getty Images

Greg Chappell has praised the selectors for taking some brave decisions before the series against Sri Lanka and said that the emphatic win was achieved due to the attitude, spirit and confidence that prevailed in the squad. Talking to Cricinfo before the last one-day international at Baroda, Chappell said that the team had been in need of reinvigoration and added that their tactical and strategic changes were successful because of the refreshing attitude of the new-look side.

"The selectors showed a bit of courage going with a bit of youth for this series," he said, "and I think they deserve credit for the courage in moving down that line because the team was really in need of reinvigoration. And they took that calculated gamble and the players have repaid them. We needed to change a few things and our tactics and strategies needed a good rethink. I think it would have been hard to do that with the old group. As a coach one thing that I do know is that you can't teach anything to anyone who doesn't want to be taught. If you're not looking to learn something, you're really going to struggle. And the one thing about these young guys is that they're soaking up the information. They want to know what more can we do to be better. And that attitude makes the coach's life much easier."

According to Chappell, the team hadn't allowed Sri Lanka to play as well as they could have and said that the youngsters should be judged by the manner in which they went about their tasks. "Sri Lanka are still a formidable side but I think they've only played as well as we've allowed them to play. We've bowled with discipline and persistence, fielded really well, batted positively, built partnerships and continually put pressure on Sri Lanka. I don't think they were prepared for the reinvigorated team they came against. I'm not sure they are as bad as people are making out. I just think we outplayed them and part of that was the way the young blokes went about doing what they did."

He also felt that the spectacular success of promoting Irfan Pathan to No.3 in the batting order, during the opening game at Nagpur, was a big factor in the outcome of the series. "The first game probably couldn't have gone any better than it did," Chappell said, "not least of all in the choice of Irfan at No.3. We attacked the bowlers, they weren't expecting it, and they weren't expecting Irfan to come in at No.3. I think that shook them a little bit. Then probably they might have spent some time looking at tactics for Irfan at No. 3 and then [Mahendra Singh] Dhoni came in at No.3 in the third game and was in fact even more successful. I think they struggled to recover from that and it gave our group a real shot in the arm."

Chappell also attributed much of India's purple patch to Rahul Dravid's influence, and thought that he's done an impeccable job both as a batsman and as a captain. "Rahul took the job with gusto and he was obviously ready for it," he said. "It was very important that it became his team. It wasn't my team but his team. I've said many times that the coach's role is in helping prepare the team and in working with the captain and supporting the captain. It's the captain's team and certainly on game days, he's the most important man. The support staff's role is to take as much pressure off him during the preparation period so that he's got time to devote to developing his own game and preparing himself properly. And the way he went about the lead-up to the first game, the way he captained the team in the first game and the way he played in that first game has had a huge impact on the team and a huge impact on the result of this series."

Looking ahead to the five-match series against South Africa, starting on November 16 at Hyderabad, Chappell warned that it could be a hard-fought series. "We still have the home advantage but South Africa are a tough team," he said. "They don't get beaten easily. The one thing they do is to fight hard and even when they're down they're dangerous. But if we can shock them the same way we shocked Sri Lanka, there's no reason we can't push them back and make it hard for them to play to the best of their ability."

Watch this space for the full interview tomorrow.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo.