Cricket

Anjali was there when Chappell offered captaincy: Tendulkar

Mumbai, Maharashtra, 05/112014 Sachin Tendulkar presenting coppy of his autobiography Playing it My Way, to his first cricket coach Ramakant Achrekar after releasing it in Mumbai on November 05, 2014. To the right is Sachin's daughter Sara. Photo: Vivek Bendre   | Photo Credit: VIVEK BENDRE

Batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar has stuck to his guns on his criticism of Greg Chappell, claiming that his wife Anjali was present when the former India coach sought to topple Rahul Dravid by offering him the team’s captaincy before the 2007 World Cup.

“Anjali was with me then, so need I say more?” said Tendulkar ahead of the launch of his much-awaited autobiography ‘ Playing It My Way’ in which he has made this claim about Chappell.

Chappell, described by Tendulkar as a “ringmaster” who imposed ideas on players, has denied ever making such an offer to the now-retired batsman. But Tendulkar’s teammates like VVS Laxman, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh have backed his claims.

Asked why he did not reveal this to Dravid, who has refused to comment on the matter, Tendulkar said for him, the issue had ended after refusing the offer.

“I didn’t want to do all that (tell Dravid about it). As far as I was concerned, the matter was over right there because I didn’t accept it, so I felt the battle was over. And I didn’t want to create that atmosphere in the team because it was just the beginning of my stint with Greg,” he said.

“I hadn’t played a single game with Greg till then, I had undergone surgery and it was a few months before the World Cup and that is when he came to talk to me,” he added.





The former batsman said he has no idea why Chappell chose to behave the way he did after taking charge as coach.

“I don’t know. I wish I could understand what he was trying to do,” he said.

He also said that initially he had told some of his teammates to give Greg some time to settle down in his job when they complained against him but later found out that things were only getting worse.

“I remember precisely the first two tours I missed and there was controversy in Sri Lanka and in Zimbabwe and I wasn’t there on both those tours. We played the Challenger Trophy and while driving back from Mohali, Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar, possibly Harbhajan Singh and a couple of guys were there,” he recalled.

“We were all travelling together and that is when the players said that ‘we don’t feel comfortable under Greg’ I clearly told them he has joined us and we should accommodate him and give him a chance. I said we should let him settle down (because) for any coach to settle down it does take time, so allow him that.

“I said ‘I feel you guys are rushing in and it is unfair’ and I had sided with him. But along the period I experienced with him, I think, in retrospect, the players were right,” he added.

Reminded that he had spoken out against Chappell soon after the latter quit as coach following India’s disastrous World Cup campaign in 2007 in the West Indies, Tendulkar said he had not spoken much at that stage as he wanted to focus on the game.





“I didn’t speak much, to be honest. During my career, I don’t think I made such statements because it was a sort of unwritten rule in the family that you just focus on the game and don’t think about all these things, you just put all your energy into thinking how to score runs.”

Asked about Chappell’s insistence on making him bat at number four in the 2007 World Cup, Tendulkar said he never found out the logic behind that controversial move.

“I don’t know the logic behind it because before that I was opening. Just before the World Cup, we came back from South Africa. It was less than two months before the World Cup, when we played three ODIs against the West Indies in India, I was told that I would bat at No. 4.

“...my logic was that I have been able to contribute as an opener and that is where I have played the maximum number of matches in my career so I should continue doing that,” he added.

Tendulkar wanted to boycott Oz tour during ‘Monkeygate’

Prime witness to one of the biggest controversies that rocked Indian cricket, Sachin Tendulkar has finally spoken about the anger and sense of betrayal he felt during the ‘Monkeygate scandal’ in Australia, revealing that he took the lead in threatening a boycott of the tour at the peak of the furore.

Writing in his autobiography, Tendulkar recalled the storm that threatened to blow away the cricketing ties between India and Australia after the hosts complained that all-rounder Andrew Symonds had been racially abused by Harbhajan Singh during the second Test in Sydney.





“Anil Kumble (the then captain) and I took the lead and it was unanimously decided that we would boycott the tour if Bhajji’s ban was upheld,” Tendulkar writes in the book.

Detailing the incident as it happened, Tendulkar said Symonds had been trying to provoke Harbhajan for quite a while before the Indian’s patience finally ran out during the second Test in Sydney.

“I want to state very clearly that the incident arose because Andrew Symonds had been continually trying to provoke Bhajji and it was inevitable that the two would have an altercation at some point. While walking up to Bhajji to try to calm things down, I heard him say ‘Teri maa ki’ (Your mother...) to Symonds. It is an expression we often use in north India to vent our anger and to me it was all part of the game,” the batting maestro said.

“...That was the start of the controversy that almost caused the tour to be called off.





“I thought the matter had ended with Bhajji’s dismissal and later I was surprised when I was told that the Australians had lodged a formal complaint at the end of that day’s play, apparently alleging that Bhajji had called Symonds a ‘monkey’, which was being treated as a racial insult,” he added.

Tendulkar also took a dig at the Australian cricketers’ conduct during the high-voltage match, stating that it was “unsportsmanlike”.

“Mind you, there is little doubt in my mind that we would have drawn had it not been for what seemed to us to be mistakes by the umpires and some rather unsportsmanlike conduct by a few of the Australian players.

On fixing: Didn’t know, so didn’t comment in book

Sachin Tendulkar has shied away from touching on perhaps the darkest phase in Indian cricket -- the match-fixing scandal -- in his much-awaited autobiography, saying he chose to skirt the issue as it would have been “unwise” to comment on things he was not fully aware of.

Speaking to a select group of journalists ahead of the worldwide launch of ‘ Playing It My Way’ in Mumbai, Tendulkar sought to clarify just why he chose not to write about the scandal during which he was a part of the Indian dressing room.

The furore in the late ‘90s had led to a life ban on former captain Mohammed Azharuddin and bans of lesser severity on some others like Ajay Jadeja.

“I think whatever things I knew 100 per cent I have revealed because I back up those things. But the things I am not aware of fully, it would be unwise to comment on those,” Tendulkar said.





“I should have some evidence, I should know something in detail to talk about it because then it makes sense and it will be appreciated by people. But if I just start talking then it will not have any value,” he said.

Asked whether he felt that some players under- performed deliberately during that phase, Tendulkar chose to offer a straight bat.

“No, I mean the guys fail, but who doesn’t fail in life, everyone fails. It would be unfair to just pinpoint at someone and say that he was under-performing, didn’t try his best, I can’t. I have played the sport for 24 years and failures do happen,” he reasoned.

Another pointed question came on the perception that he never took a stand on major issues but Tendulkar said his book answers the issue.

“If you see in my book, issues on which people believed I should have taken a stand, the only things which I was 100 per cent sure of I stood for that in my book,” he said.

“If you have read some of the articles I have expressed myself whole-heartedly but on things which were not first-hand information, it is unwise to do that, it is (like) a loose statement and I didn’t want to fire loose statements,” he said.

Pressures of captaincy affected me as a person

Sachin Tendulkar gave up the captaincy of the Indian cricket team as the pressures of leading the side was “affecting him as a person” and he was unable to “switch over” even when he was with his family.

“It (captaincy) had started affecting me as a person. And every defeat that I faced or experienced, it really hurt me.

Off the field also, when I was back with my family, I couldn’t switch over as I would be constantly thinking about it,” Tendulkar told journalists.

“It started disturbing me and affecting me personally. So I felt that if I could contribute as a player and give all the suggestions to the next captain”, he said.

Asked about the reasons for his relative failure as skipper when compared to his astounding success as a batsman, Tendulkar said one has to go back and see the scoreboards for the reason.

“I have never believed in criticising the players I have played with. It’s wrong. If you go back and look at the scoreboard that itself would give a lot of explanations.

Basically, we were not able to pick up 20 wickets and neither were we able to put up big totals.

“When we played in India, we beat South Africa, we beat Australia, so we had that success but I thought South Africa, Australia and West Indies and on occasions, there were matches which I thought we should have won. It was a big disappointment that we were not able to turn that in our favour.

“I always believe that you are going to have good games and you are going to have bad games but the good games you got to make sure you finish well, the good games should not be 80 percent or 90 percent and then the last 10 percent someone comes and takes the game away from you.

“That happened on a few occasions which sort of either builds good momentum or takes the momentum away from you. So that is what had happened.”


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