So brilliantly predictable—that’s Indian cricket for you! Not that we needed any confirmation, but the people who control the game have once again proved that the inept jokers tag they carry is absolutely spot on. But why am I complaining, did I—or anyone else, for that matter—really expect anything different?
Well, perhaps, yes. Hope is not a crime, is it? The allegations the coach made against the captain, all six pages of them, were serious. These are not ten-year-olds that they can be told to kiss and make up—they are grown men with egos the size of… well… BIG things. Who do the BCCI think they are fooling by telling Chappell and Ganguly to ‘work things out’ among themselves? And who believes that it was ‘all a misunderstanding’?!
Greg Chappell has a reputation of being a right hard bastard—remember, this is the man who asked his brother to bowl underarm!—and he is unlikely to be fazed by the so-called aura of Indian superstars. His allegations against Ganguly are nothing that cricket followers did not know or suspect:
- Suspect fitness: Not just Ganguly, most other Indian players seem to be unfit to play. The captain, though, is another story altogether. His running between the wickets is a horror and the less said about his fielding the better. While he could have been forgiven for being naturally clumsy, what is unforgiveable is the fact that he shows a marked reluctance to work. Which brings us to the second allegation—
- Shirks training: Yawn! Well, seriously, look at his game. I remember Ganguly as a debutant in Australia (was it?), quaking in his boots, facing some twenty-odd balls for the three unlikeliest runs in one-day cricket. Today, he has learnt to glare, but he still backs away from fast bowling. His fielding is as bad as ever, as is his running between the wickets. Yet he is reputed to treat training sessions in rather cavalier manner and points to his record if anyone raises a query. (Records are all very well, but they do not show the times he has put self before team.)
- Fakes injuries: Though Chappell specifically referred to an even in the Zimbabwe tour, there have been other times when the captain has got out of facing up to a tough situation by a injury mysteriously cropping up—one incident that comes to mind is his sudden discovery of an injury after spotting grass on a wicket! Make of that what you will.
- Plants discord in team: Ganguly is known to play off people against each other and there are some blue-eyed boys of his who can do no wrong. He is known to ‘play politics’ within the team and also with the media. He has a few ‘pets’ in the fourth estate for whom the sun shines out of the captain’s posterior.
- Unfit to captain: Leading by example has never been a concept Ganguly has subscribed to. His discipline is suspect and it is doubtful if he commands much respect in the side. In fact, he has been accused of creating discord. As recent TV coverage of matches clearly shows, there have been open slanging matches between captain and players—hardly a healthy sign. Remember, this was the man they called Maharaj even before he came into the national side, not because of his regal batting style but because of his snootiness, which included resenting carrying drinks for his teammates! Even now, it is alleged that he refuses to stay with his state team during domestic games—in the rare event that he does play domestic cricket—preferring to put up in more luxurious accommodation. Ganguly has also been hauled up for indiscipline on the field, including being banned for slow over rates and misconduct.
Clearly, the BCCI’s hearing was nothing more or less than an eyewash. Given the seriousness of the coach’s allegations, that the board decided to keep the captain sends out the message that Chappell is a liar. And if Chappell is a liar—and for the moment we leave aside speculation of what he thought he would gain—then the fact that he stays as well just proves that the hearing was only a media circus.
The world’s richest cricket board remains as toothless and aimless as ever. They never cared about the game, and it seems nothing has changed. Only money matters.