Coaching Team India Was Great Honour: Greg Chappell

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Canberra: Former Australian captain Greg Chappell has said coaching the Indian cricket team was a great honour for him, adding that he would have loved to coach his native side had he got a chance.

Chappell, who remains the most controversial overseas coach for the Indian cricket team, says that the side which he got to coach ‘had more depth in talent’; compared to the Indian teams he played against. Chappell has praised the Indian team of his coaching tenure, saying that on paper India had the best batting line-up across all contemporary teams. However, Chappell also added that the coaching job was a little more complicated than imagined

Chappell said“The one that I coached had more depth in talent. There was a lot of talent in the teams we played against, in the top half a dozen players, but then it dropped away a bit. More from an experience and a belief point of view rather than a lack of talent. I would have loved to have coached an Australian team, if that had been available. But failing that, to get a chance to coach India was a great honour.”

He added, “The Indian teams that I coached, on paper, had one of the best batting line-ups that any Test team could boast. Not many that outshone it as far as talent was concerned. The depth of talent in that group was extraordinary. I don’t know that they got the best out of the group that they had. Other teams probably got more out of the talent they had. There are a number of reasons for that. Partly because they didn’t have the bowling attack to make the most of that batting line-up. Away from India it didn’t do as well as it probably should have done.

Chappell had a controversial run as the Indian head coach. His appointment was backed heavily by Sourav Ganguly, the then captain but things fell apart between the two. Chappell is said to have created an insecure environment between the Indian cricketers, with Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh openly criticising the Australian coach.

In fact, it can be said only Rahul Dravid never really came out against Chappell, who found criticism from the legendary Sachin Tendulkar as well.

Chappell said, “It was a great honour to get a chance to coach someone else’s national team. I would have loved to have coached an Australian team, if that had been available. But failing that, to get a chance to coach India, which at the time was, and currently still is, the powerhouse in world cricket, and to have some of the great names that that line-up had was a great honour.

He continued, “It was perhaps a little bit more complicated than anyone could have imagined. There were so many layers to life in India, let alone cricket. That was pretty hard to expect anyone to master, particularly an outsider. Being with the Indian cricket team was what it must have been like travelling with the Beatles. It was remarkable the way they were feted around the country wherever they went. Big crowds gathered at airports. The whole airport would come to a standstill.”

However, Chappell has praised the Indian cricketers for having put up with an immense burden of expectations and resultantly pressure. He said, “To see it from the inside and to understand some of the pressures on the players. It wasn’t an easy thing to be an Indian cricketer, especially a renowned Indian cricketer. The expectations, the interruptions to their day-to-day lives, and the restrictions on their ability to move freely — I marvelled at the way they managed to absorb all of that and just get on with it.”

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