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Greg Chappell brought the curtain down on a controversial tenure as India's coach by announcing today that he would not be seeking an extension of his contract, which had ended along with India's participation in the World Cup. Chappell informed the board president of his decision on Wednesday, citing "family and personal reasons."
Chappell, 58, had served as coach since June 2005.
Sharad Pawar, the BCCI president, said that Chappell had informed him about his decision in the afternoon. "Chappell's contract is over. It was up to the World Cup", Pawar told reporters. "I got a telephone call from him in the afternoon. Due to his family and personal reasons he was not interested in continuing the contract. He thanked BCCI for the opportunity."
Chappell's decision follows India's early exit from the World Cup, and the resulting war of words in the media between Chappell and senior players. The BCCI had convened a meeting in Mumbai on Friday and Saturday to review the team's performance in the Caribbean, and was expected to take several hard decisions.
Chappell had been asked to attend the meeting - he is in Mumbai and is likely to keep that appointment - and present a detailed report on his tenure. The past few days have seen the Indian media carry what it claimed to be extracts from Chappell's report that were scathing of the performance of senior players. That led to reactions, again in the media, by unnamed senior players.
What resulted was a clear divide, as reported by Cricinfo, between Chappell and the team management, including captain Rahul Dravid, and the senior players.
The simmering controversy seemed to boil over on Wednesday morning when The Times of India published an interview with Sachin Tendulkar - known for avoiding comment on controversial topics - in which he made several pointed remarks about Chappell.
"We do realise that we played badly and, as a team, we take full responsibility for that", Tendulkar said. "But what hurt us most is if the coach has questioned our attitude."
Within hours of that interview being published, Chappell announced his decision to not seek an extension of his contract.
There is no word from the BCCI on a possible successor. India's next assignment is a Test and one-day series in Bangladesh next month and the Board may appoint an interim coach while scouting for a long-term prospect.
Chappell's tenure included a record-breaking run of India winning 17 ODIs while chasing, and a Test series win in the West Indies. It saw several young players, including S Sreesanth and Dinesh Karthik, breaking through into the national side to some acclaim. But it also had its share of controversy, which appeared to stem from a hardline, no-nonsense attitude.
His tenure began with a bitter and public feud with Sourav Ganguly, who was team captain when Chappell took charge but was sacked, after Chappell suggested he sit out a match on a tour of Zimbabwe, within four months.
Ganguly returned to the national team during last year's tour of South Africa. He was among the runs then, and ensured his selection to the World Cup side; he continued scoring in the Caribbean but the team management was apparently unhappy with his slow scoring rate.
In his letter, released to the media, Chappell, said, "I am grateful to the players with whom I have worked in this time for the challenges that they presented me with and which I tried to meet in a professional, methodical and interesting way in the interests of the team and the individual."
He went on to thank the support staff who worked with him for their efforts. "I would like to make special mention of my support staff without whom I would not have survived the rigours of the past 22 months," he said. "Ian Frazer and Greg King deserve special mention for their efforts as do John Gloster, S Ramakrishnan and Ramesh Mane. I am particularly grateful for the wonderful support of my family, especially my wife Judy, who has enjoyed the experience as much as I."
Chappell also had a word for the people of India who followed cricket so passionately. "The people of India deserve a special mention as they are the ones whose attention, enthusiasm and love and support drive the great game, and business, of cricket in this country, and around the world," he said. "I thank them all, especially those who have written to me and the thousands who have gone out of their way to come up to me with well wishes."