Remember that good old Pepsi jingle before the more ordinary "Yeh Pyaas Hai Badi" and the great "Yeh Dil Maange More" ?? Well that's how I would describe the selection of Greg Chappell for the post of India coach. (For my non-Indian readers, it translates quite simply to "This Truly Is The Right Choice, Baby !"). Out of the 4 shortlisted candidates, his choice was quite obvious; of the others I thought only Waugh and Jones would have been any competition for Chappell. What is a pleasant surprise however, is that the panel of the Gavaskars and Shastris actually made such a sensible, rational decision.
This is the first event in the cricketing world for a long time that has inspired me to blog promptly - What with rather pathetic series going on in the West Indies, a meaningless 30-man squad being declared for the Super Series and nothing else on the horizon !!
Coming back to Greg, I think sooner or later he should get Rahul Dravid as his captain and the two should be able to form a good combination. The Wright-Ganguly combo was one of the best things to have happened to Indian cricket. They built a team from a bunch of talented individuals, developed a professional approach, a strong work ethic and a passion for commitment and excellence. Unfortunately, they were not tactically the most acute.
If tactical acumen is not Greg Chappell's strongest point, I don't know what it is. He is one of the most respected brains in the game and has the ability to think out of the box (asking his brother to bowl underarm off the last ball of an ODI is sufficient evidence of this). True he has talked about commitment, discipline and the usual stuff to the media but I'm sure every other candidate would have talked about that. What distinguishes Chappell and is his unique selling point (besides his greatness as a cricketer which shouldn't really matter) is his tactical brilliance.
He has said that he will not be averse to shufling this "set-in-stone" Indian batting line-up particulary promoting Tendulkar to open in Test matches (something we thought about for so long, but knew would never materialize) although in today's scenario what he would need more than a promotion is a kick-up-the-ass but at least the ideas are there, the innovative thinking is there. Contrast this to what the Ganguly-Wright regime would have thought about this - "We have one of the best batting line-ups in the World and soon they will fire" - sure but do we just keep waiting for that and keep accepting defeat after defeat until that one glorious performance eventually comes ?? No ! Greg is the way to go; he is innovative, courageous, has a hands-on approach and most importantly willing to adapt continuously.
When Ganguly and Wright started off honestly, we could not afford this flexibility. We had to stick to a combination in the process of team-building. They built the foundation from which India could launch into a quest for greatness. I think Chappell is the man to help India take the next step.