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BBC looks favorably at GC's tenure with the Indian team
« on: January 15, 2006, 04:56:32 AM »


Chappell's early promise
By Paresh Soni 

Seven months after he took over as India coach, Greg Chappell was asked how difficult his job was.
"It's the most challenging job in cricket - but if it was easy I wouldn't have been as keen to take it on," he responded without hesitation.

This was not a man who had become weighed down by the baggage that accompanies arguably the most pressurised off-field role in the sport.

Far from it.

Ahead of their series with Pakistan, the former Australia captain has enjoyed a successful start to his reign and won the battles against bureacracy and hysteria that many of his predecessors fell victim to.

One of those, New Zealander John Wright, introduced a new professionalism and work ethic to a spoiled, but gifted, group of individuals.

But as good a coach as Wright was, there was little doubt that captain Sourav Ganguly called the shots and disciplined the players.

 The demands and expectations of a billion-odd people puts some extra pressures on you and the media reflects that emotion
Greg Chappell 

One of Chappell's first jobs was making clear to India's most successful ever skipper who the boss was.
Ganguly was clinging on to his place despite an abject run of form for two years but refused to step down.

When an e-mail from Chappell questioning Ganguly's mental and physical ability to lead was leaked, the game already looked up for the new coach.

His hand was strengthened, though, by changes at the top of the Board of Control for Cricket in India and a purge of selectors.

With Rahul Dravid now installed as captain, the furore over Ganguly has continued.

But Chappell is seizing the opportunity to suggest reforms to an outdated structure in which regional influences dictate selection.

"The message coming through loud and clear is they are going to be more focused on cricket issues," he said in a recent interview with the BBC's World Service.

"A lot of cricket issues have not been dealt with in the detail they should if India wants to be a strong playing nation consistently over the next 20 years.

"There are some decisions and changes to the system that urgently need to be made."

On the field, the former South Australia coach has been quick to implement his ideas in the face of criticism from the media and former India players.

A key factor in his blueprint for success is developing a large pool of talent and giving more players increased responsibilty.

In the November one-day series at home to Sri Lanka, players were rested, new caps were handed out and the batting order changed regularly to expose players to high-pressure situations.

The results backed him up: Sri Lanka were thumped 5-1 and the likes of Venugopal Rao, Suresh Raina, Shanathakumaran Sreesanth and Rudra Pratap Singh seamlessly introduced.

One of the main beneficiaries of that experimentation has been pace spearhead Irfan Pathan, whose batting has improved so much he is being talked about in India as an all-rounder.

 Even the notoriously difficult Harbhajan Singh and the frustratingly inconsistent Yuvraj Singh - both considered Ganguly men - have responded to Chappell's coaxing.

Despite the improvements under Chappell - the team has risen to second in the ICC Test rankings and won 11 of the last 15 one-dayers - the media have not been entirely convinced.

The intense scrutiny of his every move has come as a shock to Chappell but he is coming to terms with it.

"The demands and expectations of a billion-odd people puts some extra pressures on you and the media reflects that emotion," he said.

"There are times when things that we would consider to be fairly mild happen but all of a sudden you see something in the press that makes you think you've missed something."

"But you can only concentrate on things you can control and the rest you have to let go. A lot of that you have to ignore and get on with the job.

"I have a strong vision to make Indian cricket competitive and one of the best teams in the world.

"If it works I'll be successful; if it doesn't they'll get someone else."

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