Bangalore, November 5: There may be merit in anointing Greg Chappell as ‘Gabbar Singh’ for Team India. However, do some of the aggrieved parties really fit into the tags of ‘Viru and Jai’?
A report published today (Full Report) quoting ‘Turbanator’ Harbhajan Singh claims that the aggressive and possibly arrogant Australian who coached the Indian cricket team between 2005 and 2007 had his sights on six or seven players.
Singh lists out captain Sourav Ganguly, himself, Virender Sehwag, Ashish Nehra, Zaheer Khan and Yuvraj Singh as the cats whom Chappell was chasing doggedly in his exercise of building a team for tomorrow.
At first glance, can we see some common trait amongst these six cricketers? For starters, they were not really fitness freaks, barring Yuvraj Singh. Dig deeper and we’ve heard stories of their lack of discipline on and off the field. Why? Harbhajan’s career could have ended before it began, thanks to his bust-up with the officials at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore.
While VVS Laxman’s peeve related to Chappell’s order on opening the innings, Sachin Tendulkar’s statement relates to the coach’s preference of captain. Was it because Rahul Dravid wasn’t exactly a taskmaster that the coach expected him to be and Tendulkar fitted the bill better?
Cut to the present… barring Ganguly, all the players referred to by Harbhajan (including himself) are no more part of Team India under the MS Dhoni era. The skipper has openly supported Ravichandran Ashwin over ‘Bhajji’ and Shikhar Dhawan over Sehwag.
There were also rumors of Dhoni’s displeasure with Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra was really never in the race for a permanent place in the team. That only leaves Yuvraj Singh and despite opportunities, the captain has preferred to play the stylish left-hander only in T20s and ODIs.
It may be a good idea to recall the Test careers of these individuals post the Chappell era. Harbhajan Singh played 40 Tests and scalped 162 at a higher average of around 35 in the period between January 1, 2008 and March 2013 when he played his last Test match.
Zaheer Khan played 39 Tests and 56 ODIs between January 2008 and February last (when he played his last Test) and August 2012 (last ODI). He picked up 141 Test wickets and 81 ODI scalps during this period, at a rate lower than the pre-and during the Chappell days.
Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh were consistent during this period and could claim that they could’ve held on to their positions. As for Ashish Nehra, he played his last Test in April 2004 and last ODI in March 2011. In 48 ODIs in the post-Chappell era, he scalped 65 wickets at an average of 33 – not really setting the stadiums afire!
So, in the final analysis was Greg Chappell a better judge of players than the then stalwarts in the team? And, is Dhoni carrying the legacy forward?