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Field Marshal Greg Chappell is going great guns!

His task of fixing Indian cricket is only just starting and there are many more miles to go, writes Amrit Mathur.

india Updated: Nov 15, 2005 21:39 IST
Amrit Mathur/Straight Drive
Amrit Mathur/Straight Drive

Coach Greg Chappell was hired to prepare the Indian team, and do whatever needed to be done to lift the performance of players. Getting down to the job, he promptly took big steps (fought with the captain, asked for professionalism from players, gave Indian cricket a good shake) which caused a big stir. But now that the positive results of the violent upheaval are evident, and a resurgent Indian team marches ahead proudly, Chappell must be smiling silently, a smug look on his weather-beaten face.

His task of fixing Indian cricket is only just starting and there are, as Nehru said (quoting someone else), many more miles to go. Which is why the Aussie is now looking at small steps that must be taken to reach the next level.

Part of this plot, of small steps translating into a huge Anju Bobby style leap, is the demand that players should report on time, wear appropriate clothes and show greater commitment. And now, moving ahead a little more, his attention is fixed on the food eaten by players . The coach has apparently banned pakoras and parathas, he wants the boys to eat healthy, count calories carefully and monitor the fat / muscle index. The message is quite clear, while skill and style are important, ultimately, substance, steel and common sense count for a lot.

This raises an interesting question: What next from Field Marshal Chappell ? Instructions to maintain night curfew, fatwa about the make of jeans, orders to hit the bed early? Chappell's role extends beyond that of a coach, he is an all-rounder -- part cricket expert, part head master, part college dormitory incharge Of course, when the BCCI appointed him such things were not part of his job profile. Teams hunt for suitable coach/physio/trainer, experts are imported at substantial cost to move forward. Chappell arrived with a vision and a road map for progress for Indian cricket, he identified players who should travel on that road.

Whether someone should play at number three or thirteen is for Chappell to decide; he worries about Zaheer's fading swing, and shows concern that young spinners are disappearing, as threatened as the tigers in Ranthambore.

But should he get bogged down by minor details like banning lassi and laddoo, instructing hotel reception to set a morning alarm for players, employ jasoos to monitor their movements after sunset? A Chief Minister fighting an election, for instance, is meant to lead, not bother that the shamiana at his rally is erected properly.

Normally, international players will do the right things without being told. In India, however, experience suggests they have to be nudged in the right direction and given friendly guidance. To that extent Chappell's I-look-at-every-detail management policy is not a bad idea.

First Published: Nov 08, 2005 11:02 IST