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Last Updated: Friday, 23 September 2005, 12:54 GMT 13:54 UK
Indian soap opera
By Scott Heinrich

Greg Chappell and Sourav Ganguly
Somewhere down the line there was a rush of blood from both sides which has led to a furore in public
Javagal Srinath

The row between Sourav Ganguly and Greg Chappell is more than an epic power struggle between the two most important figures in India's dressing room.

It is also a drama of soap opera proportions, played out before the public's gaze.

When a captain claims his coach asked him to step down, as took place in Zimbabwe recently, there are bound to be repercussions.

It could have been settled privately, but it became a matter of public consumption when Ganguly went to the Indian press, who went to town on the disclosure.

A storm in a teacup? Not any more.

Galvanised and incensed by Ganguly's reaction, Chappell is taking it further.

The Australian has submitted a six-page brief to the Indian board saying Ganguly is "not physically or mentally fit" to be captain - ample evidence of a schism which threatens the stability of the entire team.

"These sort of differences are quite common in an emotionally dynamic sport like cricket," Ganguly's former team-mate Javagal Srinath told BBC Sport.

"Ganguly should not have brought this to the public. I think he made a major mistake.

"He felt a little emotional after getting his hundred in Bulawayo and went to the press. He should not have done that.

"Ganguly had an opportunity to come back to India and sort out the issue with his hundred as well as winning the series.

Darren Lehmann
Chappell is very strong. If he has an opinion he will stick with it
Darren Lehmann

"But telling Ganguly he is not good enough to be in the side on the eve of a Test match is not right. Chappell should have been more diplomatic.

"Somewhere down the line there was a rush of blood from both sides which has led to a furore in public."

Ganguly may view himself as untouchable.

Nicknamed the Prince of Calcutta - he has the backing of the most powerful man in subcontinental cricket, Jagmohan Dalmiya, the immensely well-connected former board president.

Ganguly is India's most successful Test captain by number of victories and his captaincy has endured beyond the term of India's last coach John Wright, another foreigner.

But Chappell is also a heavyweight figure.

A former captain of Australia with a scoring record superior to Ganguly's, Chappell is very comfortable in his own skin.

Former Test batsman Darren Lehmann knows both men - Ganguly as an opponent and Chappell as his coach for five years at South Australia.

"Chappell is very strong. If he has an opinion on something he will stick with it," Lehmann said.

"He is always trying to better the side, so if he thinks something is a good move, he will do what he can to make it happen.

"He was always strong and always good. He is supportive, but if he thinks a change should be made, then more than likely he is right."

Ganguly's stature in part explains his indignation with Chappell, but why does the coach, just four months into the job, want to change his captain?

It could be Ganguly's deteriorating batting record - but it could also be the result of antipathy towards Ganguly that exists in Australian cricket.

Sourav Ganguly and Javagal Srinath
Some sort of patch-up has already been done, but it could have been orchestrated
Javagal Srinath (right)

It has its origins in a 2001 series when Ganguly accused Australia of "schoolboy" behaviour after a tetchy Test series which India came from behind to win.

Opposite number Steve Waugh accused him of disrespectfully turning up late for the toss "seven times", and Ganguly countered by saying he had been "put off" by his "complaining" opponents.

There are a number of possible outcomes to the current situation, but it is almost impossible to see how Chappell and Ganguly can co-exist harmoniously.

Srinath, however, hopes it will not come down to a 'my way or the highway' stand-off with the board forced to take sides.

"Some sort of patch-up has already been done, but it could have been orchestrated," Srinath said.

"They've got to tread very carefully and come to some meaningful arrangement between the two.

"If they don't find a solution and give the public a different opinion on what has happened in Zimbabwe, this truce will not last long.

"Both have enough experience under their belt. They know they've got into some sort of mess and I'm sure they can work it out.

"It is important how the board handles this back in India. We have to wait and watch."



SEE ALSO
Ganguly makes resignation claim
16 Sep 05 |  Cricket


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