NEW DELHI, May 9: Indian cricket was plunged into fresh controversy on Wednesday after a TV sting caught national selectors blaming ex-coach Greg Chappell and senior players for a disastrous World Cup campaign.
Private broadcaster Headlines Today showed the selectors accusing the Australian of running a divide-and-rule policy.
Chappell quit as coach of India after the World Cup debacle that saw them exit in the first round after losses to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
The four national selectors – Ranjib Biswal, Bhupinder Singh Senior, Venkatapathy Raju and Sanjay Jagdale – squarely blamed Chappell and his star cricketers for the humiliation.
“Chappell wanted to show everybody he was the boss. He was not happy with anybody,” said Bhupinder Singh. “There were instances when Chappell was not talking to senior players for four to five days. He was not on talking terms with Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh,” the North Zone selector said.
Asked if reports of factionalism in the team were correct, Singh replied, “not 100 percent, but by and large correct. And Chappell is to blame for it.”
Biswal said Chappell could not understand the psyche of Indian cricketers.
“He was more like a schoolmaster than a friend,” he said.
Tendulkar and Ganguly were blamed for nurturing their own captaincy ambitions over incumbent Rahul Dravid.
“They were not supporting Dravid, some players were backing Tendulkar, some Ganguly. I won't call it factionalism but there were some personal problems,” said Sanjay Jagdale, who was team manager during the World Cup.
Bhupinder Singh said if five players had ego problems, Chappell was the sixth problem.
“Chappell would say Dravid is required, Sachin is not required, Sourav is not required. This was his policy.”
An official from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) refused to comment on the sting, dubbed ‘Operation Clean Bowled’, saying he had not seen the programme, which contained undercover footage recorded in a car.
“We will have to see whether the tape is authentic or not,” he told AFP. The revelations came as India prepare to take on their World Cup nemesis Bangladesh in the first of a three-match ODI series starting on Thursday in Dhaka. Dravid, meanwhile, appeared unconcerned by the controversy.
“I am not going to react on these sting operations,” he told reporters in Dhaka. “I haven't seen anything and I cannot comment on everything that somebody says.”
But the Indian captain went out of his way to rubbish suggestions that he did not receive support from Ganguly and Tendulkar.
“To be honest with you, I felt I had as much support as I needed,” he said. “I was very happy with the team that I had and the support that I had. Other than that I really don't know what it is and what it is all about.”—AFP