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Friday, July 6, 2012

Timeless Steel and the controversial Greg Chappell

 Books and controversies go together – no, sometimes controversies precede [wantonly !] release of books !! – here comes one from a man who played the game with lot of zeal and passion and is considered one of the great thinkers associated with the game. 

A great cricket who scored 13288 runs in 164 matches and 10889 in 344 One dayers with 36 and 12 centuries respectively – the man hailed as ‘the wall’ of Indian Cricket is in news.   Disney India and ESPN cricinfo launched “Timeless Steel”—an anthology of articles on Rahul Dravid on 4th July 12. Dravid along with Harsha Bhogle and Sanjay Manjerekar unveiled the 256 page book.   “Timeless Steel” reportedly  features 30 articles from some of the best writers in the game and his peers which reveal about the cricketer both on and off field and has some interesting photos as well.

After conquering high peaks, Dravid was quoted as saying that he did not consider himself an outstanding talent, not the  most talented cricketer, compared to his teammates.  He said, ‘talent, perhaps, was there but I knew I had to remain focused to achieve it.’…. from the modest  Rahul Sharad Dravid  who represented India with distinction for close to 2 decades.  He was honoured as one of the top-five Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 2000 ; was the ICC Player of the year in 2004.   In Mar 2012, he retired with grace from Test cricket, when most asked ‘Why’  - earlier in Aug 2011, though not a regular in the team by that time, he declared retirement from ODI.    He holds the record for most no. of catches in Tests.  . He is only the second player, after Sachin Tendulkar, to reach 13,000 runs in Test cricket.  Surprisingly,  the wall had been breached  55 times in Test cricket,  more than that of  Allan Border's previous record of 53.

There are words of advice from the successful pro Dravid on coming up the ladder an determining the price for themselves.   He stated that at his time the available option  was to be  a successful Test cricketer. There was no other way in which you could make a professional living out of the sport.  Today’ World has more options – not necessarily playing Test but still make a living out of the game and he encouraged them to go for the Test.   He made a thoughtful comparison to the modern day bunch of Rohit, Raina, Tiwary as having watched and adored Test cricket where as his son Samit is growing up watching IPL – and that presents a wider challenge to embrace the pure form of cricket. 

Dravid had a very strong defence and had his foot planted at the right place, sure his ‘Timeless Steel’  a collection of 30 pieces also sure would be as valuable as the player he was.   

Reportedly, the new book of Dravid has pieces authored by. Ed Smith, who shared a dressing room with Dravid at Kent,;  Sanjay Bangar  who played under him as also many other regular writers giving rich tributes to many of his traits that has placed Dravid on top.   Sure all that would celebrate the colossal cricketer he was and his human touch at many a times.   Greg Chappell on his part has tried to ignite another controversy stating that the other players were not as supportive as Dravid was to other captains !!!!

Everybook, especially when it is a collection of essays, would have more people authoring them and Greg Chappell – the stylish batsman he was deserves a place……… but the stylist was  uncouth in his rein between 2005-07 as Coach, tried to deride everything Indian when paid heftily by the land.  He is inseparable from controversy and tried everything possible against the Dada – Sauvav Ganguly.  In his book  ‘Fierce Focus’ he claimed that the icon Sachin was mentally fragile at a certain stage of his illustrious career and was beset with “self-doubt”. 

In this book, the eternally controversial Greg Chappell has tried stoking fire  saying had the retired batting great received the same support he gave other captains, he would have been the country's most successful skipper.  Chappell wrote that despite Dravid guiding the Indian team to a number of victories, his success was not enjoyed by some members of the side.  Chappell is quoted as saying "Sadly the success of the team was not universally enjoyed within the team. Some individuals felt threatened by the new world order and appeared to work against Rahul’.

Chappell reportedly drawn reference to Dravid leading  to nine ODI wins in a row by inserting the opposition after winning the toss, regardless of the conditions, and then went on to pilot the team to a world record of 17 consecutive wins batting second. He also makes a mention of the Indian victory in WI and South Africa in Tests in 2006. Chappell can afford to have loss of memory but facts will be facts and India will always remember the disastrous 2007 World Cup Campaign under Rahul Dravid with Greg Chappell, coaching the team !

Just read and recall this sequence – India had an easy grouping alongside Srilanka, Bangladesh and minions Bermuda –  a solitary one other than one over Bermuda was the requirement for qualifying.  Bangladesh had not won a single match in the previous WC and was the bottom of all the Test playing nations.  India set a paltry target of 192 and Bangladesh won with 5 wickets to spare.   At a time when the Country was in a State of Emergency with public gatherings outlawed, India provided them a chance to celebrate.   Against Bermuda, India broke many records making 413 for 5 and won -  their only professional player David Hemp, hit nine fours and one six in an unbeaten innings of 76.   Remember it was a Team that faltered only at the finals in WC 2003  but this particular year in 2007  brought disaster to TV channels which had bought broadcasting rights at hefty prices.  Against Sri Lanka, chasing Indians were bowled out for paltry 185. 

The tenure of 3 seasons of Greg Chappell was notorious for lots of fissures in the team; reportedly had a tiff with Sachin, was at loggerheads with Sourav Ganguly,  Zaheer , Sehwag and sort of destroyed the fabric of the team. 

Earlier, when Greg was not at the helm, there was a high voltage behind-the-scenes drama  sparked off by the  abrupt declaration in the Multan Test, which left Sachin Tendulkar  stranded only six runs short of a double century.  If Dravid wanted more time, he could have declared half an hour earlier with Sachin around 175, which would not sparked any row.  Even the greatest have their goals and dreams and milestones, and a double century against Pakistan in Pakistan would have been a memory to treasure, which Sachin was denied of by that declaration.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.


  1. Well written Sir - Gopinath

  2. it seems to be timeless unending controversy = d0wn down chappell... Hegde

  3. time we stopped him coming to India - Irfan

  4. Real star why rahul act in cinema.I searched web to print and overnight prints Use ful to me and my friend