This may sound unbelievable. But just over a year ago, Greg Chappell said those three words to Sourav Ganguly. It was April 2005, and form had deserted the then Indian captain. He had averaged 9.60 and 15.80 in Tests and ODIs, respectively, in the home series against Pakistan.
This correspondent had met Chappell, who was among the contenders for the post of Indian coach then, at the Taj Land's End in Mumbai and asked him what Ganguly could do to start scoring again. Chappell's reply? “Watch the ball”.
“When you've been in the game as long as Sourav has, struggle phases are inevitable,” Chappell had said. “A player initially thinks it could be a technical problem — something about backlift, grip or stance. That becomes his focus, and he stops watching the ball. On the contrary, when he is playing well, all he is doing is watching the ball. So my message to Sourav would be to get his eye on the cherry.”
Chappell had been characteristically in-depth in his analyses during the course of the interview. At the same time, he had showed an aversion for rigid, cast-in-stone guidelines, which would be a surprise to those who see him as a draconian manager of men.
“There are many coaches who impose methods upon their trainees,” he had said. “There is too much of ‘don't do this’ and ‘don't do that’. That's not how it should be.” Now that Ganguly is back and South African piranhas like Makhaya Ntini lie in wait, he could remember Chappell's advice. So what if tiffs have replaced tips in their relationship now.