World Cup 2007 February 27, 2007

Chappell says it's time to perform

Cricinfo staff

'Now it is up to the performance on the day and each game and that's where the pressure is going to be' © AFP
Greg Chappell, India's coach, was confident and positive in the pre-departure press conference ahead of India's campaign in the forthcoming World Cup in the Caribbean. "We're all looking forward to the World Cup. It's the showpiece tournament in one-day cricket and we are in as good a position as we could have been," he said. "The pieces of the jigsaw puzzle have fallen into place in the last few weeks. There is a good balance, good experience and youth in the squad, and a good variety in bowling and batting. That will give us a wide range of options no matter what the condition and no matter what the opposition."

Over the recent months India's journey in limited-overs cricket has been far from smooth, and the fielding has come in for specific criticism. But Chappell did not think the fielding would be a major worry. "The fielding in the last few games has been good," he said. "We have worked hard on it and will continue to so in the World Cup. The positive side is that we have got some 1900 ODIs between the group and that hopefully will offset any deficiencies anywhere."

The one aspect that Chappell and Rahul Dravid have been insisting on over the last year and more has been the need for flexibility within the squad, and Chappell was happy with how this side of the game had shaped up. "We have cover for pretty much all the key players and key positions. We have got flexibility in bowling and batting. We have got a squad that we can expect to do well with," he said, adding a note of caution. "Obviously now it is down to execution. We can do all the preparation that we have done and continue to do in the Word Cup, but now it is up to the performance on the day and each game and that's where the pressure is going to be."

But Chappell, who has come in for some criticism for changes in the batting order, would not be drawn into saying who would open the batting in the World Cup. "We cannot really talk about that at the moment because a lot of it will depend on the conditions and opposition. We have some plans and ideas on which we have been working towards in the recent months," he said. "We have got the options to do a number of things and to mix the batting order in a number of ways but we have some strong ideas of where we play players and what sort of role that they will have. We will be sitting down with players and reinforcing them once we reach the West Indies. To talk about that will be a bit premature at this stage."

Chappell also said that India could take some pointers from their recent trip to the West Indies, although they lost the one-dayers 1-4 on that tour. "Obviously we have some experience in West Indies. We are not playing on some of the grounds that we played last year and will play on some new grounds," he said. "I do not expect the conditions to be very different from what I have experienced in the last 30 years. In a World Cup the intention will be to get the best possible batting wickets and that certainly doesn't do us any harm as batting is our strength. It's really a matter of what we do on that day and execution can be the decider. If anyone is going to have an advantage you will think it will be the home team. But then again the hosts have never won a World Cup."

When asked about the terms "process" and "systems", which are common enough and yet have taken some rather negative connotations vis-à-vis the Indian team, Chappell said there was always work to do and ways to improve. "They have come along well from the point that we have come to this, where we have a fit and in-form team ready to go for the World Cup. It's been successful but it's a never ending process and you try to improve the group and each player tries to improve himself," he said. "The coaching staff is trying to expand its vision and range and in all ways and will continue in the World Cup and after the World Cup. I suppose we will be able to answer that question definitively after the World Cup."

Chappell also did not want to read too much into Australia's recent run of losses. "It shows that New Zealand is a good side. It shows that England has made some progress. No doubt it will effect Australia's balance if [Brett] Lee and [Andrew] Symonds are not going to be there, but I am sure they have got good cricketers there. Stuart Clark has come in and maybe he will be the player of the series for them," he said. "The loss would have made them a bit hungrier and determined to play well. I would have preferred that they won all the matches and gone to the West Indies overconfident. Now they will be right on the job. We will have our job cut out."