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Chappell did not want Ganguly

G. Viswanath

The Australian used his `stet skills' to make a scathing attack


  • Rahul Dravid did not take sides on Ganguly selection
  • Cut and dried approach by three selectors in Ganguly's favour
  • Captain fought for Laxman, Agarkar

    Mumbai: Sourav Ganguly's selection in the Indian team as a "batting allrounder'' for the first Test against Sri Lanka did not come through without the Indian team coach Greg Chappell speaking his mind on the issue. Eventually the Australian lost the battle of wits in the two-and-half-hour face-off with the national selectors in Chennai on Wednesday.

    Credible information that's emerged is that while captain Rahul Dravid put up a demeanour of a true professional cricketer not taking sides, the not so stoical Chappell used his stet skills to take the former India captain completely out of equation in the selection committee proceedings.

    Chappell's scathing remarks on Ganguly — cricket and attitude-wise — in his e-mail in September, was followed by a BCCI investigation, the upshot of which was an announcement by the BCCI president Ranbir Singh Mahendra that "They (Ganguly and Chappell) will work together for the betterment of Indian cricket''.

    `Disturbing influence'

    But on Wednesday, Chappell told the selectors that "Ganguly's selection will be a disturbing influence on the team. The team is doing nicely now. There will be a sinking feeling once he comes in. Don't kid he's a Test match bowler. You can pick him as one of the seven batsmen. Don't do what you are doing. You are hiding something. What's your motive?''

    According to a BCCI source, the Australian's candour, once Ganguly's name came up for consideration as an all-rounder, not as a specialist batsman, stunned the selectors, but his plea did not impress the three selectors — Pronob Roy, Yashpal Sharma and Gopal Sharma — who had come for the meeting with a one-point agenda of bringing Ganguly back into the national team.

    "While the objective of one set of selectors was to consolidate the gains from the home internationals, the other set was bent on recalling Ganguly. Chappell had to finally face the moment of truth, the cut and dried approach of three selectors and he was in a hopeless situation.

    Yashpal said he's seen Ganguly bowl well in the Duleep Trophy and Roy said that he's seen Ganguly as a bowler right through his career,'' the BCCI source said.

    Laxman's place

    It's also come to light that Roy and Yashpal were against inclusion of V. V. S. Laxman and that it's at the instance of Dravid — who said it will be unfair to drop Laxman, an automatic choice, from the list of seven batsmen — that the Hyderabadi's place in the 15-member squad was ensured.

    When a selector pointed out the past record of Ajit Agarkar in Test matches, Dravid and Chappell told the committee that the Mumbai seamer has been consistently bowling well and that they will deal with him.

    Observers here wonder why Ganguly was not named captain on Tuesday by those who backed his selection as a "batting allrounder'' on Wednesday and also disregarded him for the one-day internationals and chose Jai Prakash Yadav.

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