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'I wasn't comfortable with Chappell'

Greg Chappell betrayed the trust of players but Gary Kirsten, his successor as Indian cricket coach, is the "best I have ever seen", India's dashing opening batsman Virender Sehwag said today.

cricket Updated: Jan 20, 2009 05:06 IST

Greg Chappell betrayed the trust of players but Gary Kirsten, his successor as Indian cricket coach, is the "best I have ever seen", India's dashing opening batsman Virender Sehwag said on Monday.

The former South African batting star, Kirsten "doesn't force things on you", Sehwag said in a freewheeling interview to PTI.

Comparing the two coaches, Sehwag indicated that Chappell had tried to get him to change his batting style. "He had his view on my front-foot play, my footwork."

"The thing with him (Chappell) was that whatever you shared with him, it was promptly disclosed to media and selectors. He talked and that hurt the trust," Sehwag said. Excerpts from the interview:

Q: You cut your teeth under Sourav Ganguly. He was the one who made you an opener?
A: Yes, it was in Sri Lanka. I hit gold in the third match with that blistering century off 69 balls (against New Zealand). A lot of youngsters, including me, came to the fore under Dada. Remember, when he took over world cricket was reeling under the impact of match fixing. He always backed us.

For instance when I was Man of the Match against Australia early in my career, he assured me that I would play in at least next 30 one-day matches. Even when he promoted me as an opener, he told me to bat without worry, as he wouldn't touch me for the next 30-35 games.

When your captains back you in this manner, your confidence is sky-high. He was also an extremely aggressive captain.

Q. And Mahendra Singh Dhoni?
A. In many ways he is doing what Ganguly used to do. He is also aggressive. But he also knows how to be defensive if a game is to be saved. The thing with Dhoni is that he gives all of us a lot of space. He doesn't want to control everyone.

The optional practice rule has really gained ground under him. Now it's not mandatory to turn up for practice everyday. There are so much of traveling, so many matches. He knows the importance of rest and allows everyone his or her own recovery period.

Q. I remember you recently said that the dressing room atmosphere now is the best ever and coach Gary Kirsten should take a lot of credit for it.
A. He is the best coach I have ever seen. He doesn't force things on you. His basic premise is: you all are international cricketers and you know how to succeed and how important it is to succeed. So I won't thrust myself on you. But whenever you need me, for practice, throwing balls, sharing ideas, worries, I am always there.

During Test matches, there are days when he doesn't force you to follow you a similar routine in warm ups. If he senses a day when it can be an easy one for the lads, he allows you to do no warm ups. When an intense day is ahead, we all come together to bring that required intensity.

Q. And Greg Chappell wasn't quite like that? He also tried to change your batting style?
A. He had his view on my front-foot play, my footwork. The thing with him was that whatever you shared with him, it was promptly disclosed to media and selectors. He talked and that hurt the trust. I wasn't comfortable with him.

Q. He made you visit psychologists. The most uncomplicated of batting stylist was made to curb his instincts?
A. I never went alone to psychologist Rudi Webster. In a session with Webster, we all had our chunk of time. I am one who believes that if you open up your thoughts to someone you trust, you feel lighter and thus better. But I found out that Webster couldn't keep things confidential.

Q. After you were in doldrums, your career was revived in Australia in 2007-08. The century in Adelaide Test must be very special to you?
A. Yes it is. It was a knock when I was determined to spend time at the crease. In the first two hours on the final day, I made only 27 runs in the first session. In the afternoon, Tendulkar kept telling me that we had to keep going. Or Australians could use the final 30-35 overs to chase down the target. It was very, very special.