'We haven't come to grips with the conditions' - Chappell
Greg Chappell made no excuses after a shocking display that summed up India's one-day series. He refused to hide behind the lack-of-preparatory-time line, and insisted that his batsmen would have to perform a great deal better if the Test series was to be any more of a contest than the one-day version.
"We set out to bat as well as we could and make sure we batted 50 overs, which we managed to do," he said. "But obviously, it wasn't enough. This type of a wicket does a bit in the morning, and they bowled well under the conditions. Having said that, 200 wasn't enough. We should have made more."
When asked how he viewed the team's dismal batting given his own status as one of the game's all-time batting greats, he just shrugged and said: "It's disappointing, there's nothing more I can say. There's no finer point to put on it, we are not batting well enough. We haven't come to grips with the conditions and we need to. Nothing more, nothing less."
According to him, there was no simple solution to the current woes. "The remedy has got to come from within the players," he said. "They have got to find a way to come to grips with the conditions. No-one else can do it for them. We can only say what the facts are: we haven't batted very well. No one's trying to bat badly. It happens. It has happened before, and it will probably happen again. Teams go through these phases. When the confidence is down, it's hard to play with confidence. We are not playing with a great deal of it at the moment, and we need to find some."
He refused to pick on individuals, and when asked about Irfan Pathan's insipid allround show, he said, "A break could have done quite a few players good. But we've got to face up to the fact that we have a Test series to play in the next 10 days or so. We've got to find some confidence and some form from somewhere."
He hoped that the return of experienced campaigners like VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly would make a difference in the five-day version, and said that it would be best to draw a line under the disastrous one-day showing. "We're not the first side to come to South Africa and struggle," he said. "And that itself is some consolation. But it's not the ideal situation. We haven't batted well enough in any of the games in the ODI series. We just haven't made enough runs, and if we don't make enough runs, it's hard to win."
India's plight was made worse by the nasty blow that Sachin Tendulkar took on the left forearm from Andre Nel. "I think it's just a bruised arm," said Chappell, after Tendulkar had laboured 97 balls for his 55. "We'll have to wait and see how he pulls up over the next few days. Thankfully, we've got ten days or more before the first Test match. So we're hopeful that it's not going to be a problem."
And when asked if there could be any crumbs of comfort for disconsolate fans back home, he merely said: "I can't keep giving messages to the Indian cricket fans. They just have to support the team as much as they can. And the team must find a way to play better."
On this evidence, that's going to be easier said than done. Rahul Dravid can't return soon enough.
Dileep Premachandran is features editor of Cricinfo