Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Blame the board for picking Chappell

It's a delicious irony that the two teams which beat India at the World Cup are coached by men who were eager, even desperate, to do the job for India -- Dav Whatmore of Bangladesh and Tom Moody of Sri Lanka. But the Indian cricket board chose to go with a big name -- Greg Chappell.
Chappell was a legend as a batsman and also did well as a captain. But he had little success as a coach, and now his India sojourn is ending in disaster. The team had already fallen from number two to six in the ODI rankings before the World Cup, and will now go to the bottom of the heap of the eight major cricket-playing nations.
Compare that with Whatmore's achievements -- doing the unimaginable in 1996 of taking Sri Lanka to the pinnacle, and now the equally amazing feat of putting Bangladesh in the Super 8.
Coaching in cricket today requires more than a batting tip or a fielding drill or pep talk. Dav Whatmore, Tom Moody, John Buchanan of Australia, Mickey Arthur of South Africa, John Bracewell of New Zealand, none of them were legends as cricketers, but all of them have done way better than Chappell as coach, and it's no accident.
It takes donkey's work to systematically analyse video recordings for each player's strengths and weaknesses, and prepare a dossier for each opposition batsman and bowler. That's the sort of thing you can expect from a Whatmore or a Buchanan, not a Chappell. It also takes a lot of experience to hone the unique, supportive role that a coach plays, and it comes from many years of working up the ranks as a professional coach, unlike a big name who parachutes into the job after a long and distinguished career as a cricketer.
The mistake the Indian board made in 2005 was to look at Chappell's track record as a player, not a coach.

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