Sourav Ganguly is one of the most successful captains that the Indian cricket team has ever had. But one of the most turbulent periods of his career was when Australian Greg Chappell was coach of the Indian cricket team. And writing in his autobiography ‘A Century Is Not Enough’, Ganguly reveals that while he thought Greg Chappell was the best man for the job, his own brother Ian Chappell and Indian cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar discouraged his appointment.
Ganguly writes that he still went with his instinct and decided to ignore Gavaskar and Ian Chappell’s warnings. He also reveals that he admired Chappell as a cricketing brain, and sought his help when he embarked on a ‘secret trip’ to Australia before the Indian team’s tour down under in 2003 to do an ‘exhaustive recce’, according to The Indian Express. Ganguly thought that Chappell ‘would be the best person’ to help him in doing the same.
Ganguly writes, “In our previous meetings he had impressed me with his deep cricketing knowledge.” He reveals that Chappell was the first name that came to him when the question to replace John Wright arose in 2004. “I thought Greg Chappell would be the best person to take us to the number one slot from the challenger’s position. I had conveyed my personal choice to Mr (Jagmohan) Dalmiya when they were looking for a new Indian coach. A few people advised me against this move. Sunil Gavaskar was one of them. ‘Sourav, think about it. With him around you might have problems in running the team. His past coaching record is not spectacular, he told me.”
Jagmohan Dalmiya even called Ganguly one morning and asked him to come to his house for an urgent meeting. “He shared in confidence that even his brother Ian thought Greg might not be the right choice for India. Well, I decided to ignore all these warnings and follow my instincts. The rest as they say is history. But then that’s life. Some scripts go your way, like my tour of Australia, and some don’t, like the Greg chapter. I conquered the country but not one of its citizens. This (the year 2005) remains the most turbulent chapter of my life. Not only was my captaincy suddenly taken away for no reason but I was also dropped as a player. I feel angry even as I write this. What happened was unthinkable. Unacceptable. Unforgivable.”
“History hasn’t recorded many instances of a winning captain being dropped so unceremoniously, that too after scoring a hundred in the last Test series. In Indian cricket there are no such parallels and I doubt whether there will ever be. So Mr Gregory Stephen Chappell and the selection committee led by Kiran More have indeed put me in august company.”
‘A Century is Not Enough’ is co-authored by Gautam Bhattacharya, and is published by Juggernaut.