Sachin-Chappell Row: An Undesirable Controversy


Seven years since Greg Chappell said the last goodbyes to the Indian Cricket team, and the abysmal moments are still fresh. The controversies have sprung to life after the revelations by Sachin Tendulkar in his soon-to-be-released autobiography, “Playing It My Way”.

“Just months before the World Cup, Chappell had come to see me at home and, to my dismay, suggested that I should take over the captaincy from Rahul Dravid”, says Sachin in the book. Excerpts like these have opened up a can of worms resulting in a test of credibility with the trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, and Sourav Ganguly at the centre of the issue. “It is a private conversation between two people and I am not privy to it”, said Rahul Dravid. While Dravid has justified his stand and refrained from commenting on the issue before reading the book, a lot of senior players have supported Sachin Tendulkar and hit out at Greg Chappell. The viewpoints of the likes of Zaheer Khan, VVS Laxman, Harbhajan Singh are harmless, all supplementing Tendulkar’s claims.

But there is a potential chance of fallout in the aftermath of the deadlock that has been broken in the seven year old controversy. Rahul Dravid may face some dissent from players for his silence on the issue. Sourav Ganguly’s claim that Dravid told him “he couldn’t control Greg” doesn’t help the cause either. It’s ill-fated that a seven year old injury is causing fresh bruises.

Dravid’s disagreement of Ganguly’s claims is making it a case of Dravid’s word against Ganguly’s. This is undesirable, especially at this juncture when the players have concluded their celebrated careers, devoid of controversies. The last thing Indian cricket needs is to see a difference in the versions of the coveted role models, Dravid, Tendulkar, and Ganguly, and belittle the trust in the trio that hurled Indian cricket forward for years. The 331 run stand between Tendulkar and Dravid against New Zealand or the 318 run stand between Dravi d and Ganguly against Sri Lanka are two of the innumerable memories these players together have given to Indian cricket. There is no reason these memories must be tarnished over an old forgettable phase described in a book.

Autobiographies of sportspersons often discuss contentious issues and they become the selling points of these books. Justifiably so, for they are off-field actions which are unknown to the masses, and make for an enthralling reading. Roy Keane’s “The Second Half”, Alex Ferguson’s “Alex Ferguson: My Autobiography”, and Kevin Pietersen’s “KP: The Autobiography” (among many others), have all dedicated pages to controversial incidents in their sporting careers. How true the claims are is an entirely different subject. But extracts are revealed before the book is launched for the same reason trailers are released before a film.

There is no denying the fact that Chappell’s era did more harm than good to the Indian team. “Chappell took Indian cricket backwards”, said VVS Laxman. In what has been called the “darkest phase of Indian cricket” by Zaheer Khan, Greg Chappell’s tenure was earmarked with controversies – most notable being the fallout with Sourav Ganguly. This is all worthy of a chapter in the world’s highest run scorer’s book. But India’s debacle at the 2007 World Cup and a distraught team environment because of a former coach must not catch all the attention. As Rahul Dravid eloquently put, “I am looking forward to reading what Sachin says about batsmanship, how does mind work and what made him the greatest batsman in the world.”, and not focus on the controversy. Truth must come out, but it is too late to fret upon the issue at the cost of the credibility of fairy tale careers.

Vikas Arora

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