NEW DELHI, 24 September 2005 — India’s cricket coach Greg Chappell believes Saurav Ganguly is no longer fit to lead the side and has threatened to quit if the captain is not changed, a cricket board source told AFP yesterday. Chappell, the former Australian captain and batting great who took charge of the Indian team in June, sent an e-mail to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) saying Ganguly did not deserve a place in the team either, the source said.
“Chappell has told the BCCI that he will find it difficult to continue if Ganguly is retained as captain,” said the source who has seen the e-mail from Zimbabwe.
“The coach believes Ganguly is not physically or mentally fit to lead and had lost the respect of the younger players in the team.” BCCI president Ranbir Singh Mahendra confirmed he had received Chappell’s mail, but declined to reveal its contents on the pretext it was a confidential report. Chappell’s missive came a day after India routed lowly Zimbabwe 2-0 to record their first Test series win outside the sub-continent since 1986 when they beat England.
The victory took Ganguly’s record as India’s most successful Test captain to 21 wins, seven more than second-placed Mohammad Azharuddin’s tally of 14.
Both Chappell and Ganguly were flying back from Zimbabwe yesterday and were unavailable for comment. But a Calcutta-based Bengali language newspaper, Ananda Bazar Patrika, yesterday quoted Ganguly as saying he had heard about the e-mail.
“Yes I have heard about the mail,” the captain told the newspaper. “I will say whatever I want to to the board. I hope the board will give me a chance to explain. You can imagine the character of a person who within hours of a truce goes and writes such an e-mail.” Relations between Chappell and Ganguly soured ahead of the first Test against Zimbabwe at Bulawayo last week when it was revealed the coach had asked the captain to step down because of his poor batting form. Ganguly responded by carving out a painstaking six-hour century against the weakest attack in cricket and then revealed the dressing-room discussion with the coach to the media. Chappell issued a hand-written statement ahead of the second Test in Harare, saying his efforts to motivate Ganguly had been misinterpreted as a call for the batsman to stand down as captain.
Indian Cricket Board
Meantime, elections to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) were postponed by two months after bitter in-fighting between the rival groups. Political heavyweight Sharad Pawar is fighting incumbent Ranbir Singh Mahendra for the presidency and control of the country’s richest sports body with estimated annual earnings of around $50 million.
But Mahendra adjourned the annual general meeting after the rival groups failed to agree on the format for the election after two days of hectic deliberations.
“It has been resolved by the members that elections take place on or before Nov. 30,” Mahendra told reporters. “We will announce the new dates shortly.” The stalemate had raised uncertainty over whether a meeting would go ahead as planned on Tuesday to review the Indian team’s performance. But, Mahendra said the meeting in Bombay would take place as planned. “All pending matters will be taken up on a priority basis,” he said. “Work in the Board will go on as usual.” Federal Agriculture Minister Pawar had challenged the authority of Jagmohan Dalmiya, the former International Cricket Council (ICC) chief who has led the BCCI for two decades.