It has been over a decade since the Ganguly-Chappell saga rocked Indian cricket. But it seems Sourav Ganguly is yet to get over it.
The former India skipper was one of the most adored players in this cricket-obsessed nation and was building his legacy as a batsman and a skipper.
The Indian cricket was in shambles when he took over the captaincy after the match-fixing exposed in 2000. However, Ganguly did not take long to transform the side into a force to reckon. He led India to the Champions Trophy title and the final of the 2003 World Cup. Under his captaincy, India drew a Test series in Australia and won one in Pakistan.
Ganguly had gone on to become India’s most successful Test captains. The Bengal star was looking set to spend the last few years of his career as a prominent figure in Indian figure. However, what followed later was completely unexpected. A fall-out with the then head coach Greg Chappell led to Ganguly’s downfall in 2005. He not only lost his captaincy without any concrete reason but was also dropped from the team.
The batting legend went on to make a comeback to the national team after and retired from the game on his terms. However, the scars of the Chappell saga is still fresh in him.
In the latest column published by The Times of India, Ganguly has shed light on the turbulent period. He revealed it was him who came up with Chappell’s name to succeed John, Wright as head coach. The former India batsman also revealed that he was advised by many to not go for Chappell.
“Back home in 2004 while we were discussing who could succeed John Wright, his name flashed in my mind first. I thought Greg Chappell would be the best person to take us to the number one slot from the challenger’s position. I had conveyed my personal choice to Mr Dalmiya when they were looking for a new Indian coach. A few people advised me against this move. Sunil Gavaskar was one of them. ‘Sourav, think about it. With him around you might have problems in running the team. His past coaching record is not spectacular, he told me,” he wrote.
“Mr Dalmiya also called one morning and asked me to come to his house for an urgent discussion. He shared in confidence that even his brother Ian thought Greg might not be the right choice for India. Well, I decided to ignore all these warnings and follow my instincts. The rest as they say is history. But then that’s life. Some scripts go your way, like my tour of Australia, and some don’t, like the Greg chapter. I conquered the country but not one of its citizens,” he added.
Ganguly further opened up on the tough period of his career, calling the year 2005 as the ‘most turbulent chapter’. He went on express his disappointment over his axing as skipper and player without any reason.
“This (2005) remains the most turbulent chapter of my life. Not only was my captaincy suddenly taken away for no reason but I was also dropped as a player. I feel angry even as I write this. What happened was unthinkable. Unacceptable. Unforgivable,” he wrote.
“History hasn’t recorded many instances of a winning captain being dropped so unceremoniously, that too after scoring a hundred in the last Test series. In Indian cricket there are no such parallels and I doubt whether there will ever be. So Mr Gregory Stephen Chappell and the selection committee led by Kiran More have indeed put me in august company,” he added.
The Prince of Calcutta also said that the fans’ backing helped him remain firm during the tough period.
“… One thing that heartened me was that the number of my supporters across the country was rapidly increasing. Look, I was the captain of India for five years. I was one of the stars, a popular face in India. I already had a substantial fan base. But this downhill phase of mine suddenly endeared me to the masses. Even in the media, people who had criticized me routinely turned softer. Suddenly from Maharaj I had joined the ranks of the oppressed,” he wrote.
The former India skipper scored close to 20,000 international runs with the help of 38 centuries and 105 fifties. He also took 132 wickets with his handy medium pace. He is currently serving as the president of Cricket Association of Bengal.
Here is the news feed: