And why shouldn’t Chappell have played politics?

Last Updated: Wed, Nov 05, 2014 16:44 hrs

In the 1980s, legends Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev were involved in a power struggle, but luckily both of them have never shared the sordid details. What discord there was in the dressing room, stayed in the dressing room.

In 1989, Krishnamachari Srikkanth put a gun at the BCCI's head over player payments before a tour of Pakistan. That proved to be his first and last Test series as captain. He was subsequently retired.

Then came the Dalmiya years.

Jaggu bhai was President of the ICC from 1997-2000. After that he was President of the BCCI from 2001-04 and formed a power relationship with Indian captain Sourav Ganguly and they were ably backed by coach John Wright.



It is in this backdrop that one has to see the revelations in cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar's new book Playing It My Way

If you go back to the era in question, then you would have known that Dalmiya and Ganguly had a stranglehold over the game.

With the exit of Dalmiya and Wright, Ganguly was vulnerable more so because his batting form had severely dropped and he had also become quite complacent in his captaincy. 

When Chappell came, it was common knowledge that the new coach wanted Ganguly to either shape up or get out.

Their power struggle played out over many months and the newspaper headlines were full of them. But the basic question is when Ganguly lived his whole captaincy by politics, why should it have surprised anyone that his captaincy would die by it? 


Chappell was no babe in the woods and as a blunt Aussie it was natural for him to counter fire with fire.

That is exactly what he did and Ganguly was ousted in the end. Considering Dada's woeful form and its effects on his captaincy, Chappell had every right to ask the BCCI to sack Ganguly. It could be said that Chappell had beaten him at his own game.

Most people now dismiss Chappell as a disaster but that is definitely not the case. 

He shed Indian cricket of its complacency and was a hard taskmaster. Even after he was sacked, the BCCI continued with Plan Chappell and Indian cricket reaped some of the rewards.

Under Chappell, we had a world record 17 ODI run chases, something unthinkable for India till then. We also became more consistent in ODIs beating Sri Lanka 6-1, Pakistan 4-1 and England 5-1 in bilateral series.

We won our first Test series on West Indian soil in 35 years. In fact, the only major disaster was our exiting the 2007 ODI World Cup in the first round and that is only what most Indian fans remember Chappell for.

Chappell had many achievements, but people only remember him for his spat with Ganguly and the 2007 World Cup.

Going by the media reports at that time, Chappell and Rahul Dravid shared an excellent rapport and there were absolutely no indications of a rift between them. 

Tendulkar's claim then that Chappell wanted to replace Dravid with him runs totally contrary to what was thought to have happened at that time.

So far the man at whom the accusing finger has been pointed has denied that such a thing ever happened. 

And while Dravid has maintained silence on most of the things Sachin has said in his book, he totally rubbished Ganguly's claim about his inability to control Chappell. 

It will be interesting to see what shape this controversy takes in the days to come.

But till then while you can accuse Chappell of many things, accusing him of playing politics is ridiculous because everyone plays politics in Indian cricket. 

The only difference is that some totally fail and others succeed spectacularly!


The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.