Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
India spinner Harbhajan Singh has revealed that former head coach Greg Chappell was on a mission to get rid of all the best players in the side.
Singh’s comments come after legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar exposed that Chappell had come to his house and tried to convince him to take over the captaincy from Rahul Dravid prior to the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies.
“Chappell destroyed Indian cricket to such an extent that it required at least three years to get it back on track,” Singh told PTI. “The worst part was some players in that team, who sucked up to the coach and would supply selective misinformation, created bigger rifts.”
When asked who those players were, Singh said: “When the right time comes, the names will be revealed. Some people thought that just blindly following Chappell would do them a world of good without realising that Indian cricket was going nowhere.”
Singh also revealed that Chappell seemed intent on getting rid of a number of players during a Test match against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo.
“Sourav was batting out there in the middle and this man was typing a critical e-mail against Sourav, sitting right there in that dressing room,” Singh said. “He had no interest in the proceedings of the match. How did I get to know, I was sitting next to him and had a suspicion. Once he went to the washroom, I peeped into his laptop and the mail was lying open. I was stunned to see the contents.
“Once Sourav came back, I told him about this e-mail and he seemed unaware and equally shocked. There were six guys that he wanted to get rid of. Sourav was his primary target followed by myself, Virender Sehwag, Ashish Nehra, Zaheer Khan and Yuvraj Singh.”
Due to the animosity in the dressing room, Singh noted that it became hard for everyone to trust each other.
“He was supposed to take India to the next level in international cricket,” Singh added. “But during that phase, there was one point of time where we were playing like Under-14s. “There was a time, during tours, we were scared of each other. We couldn’t confide our feelings, anguish or despair because we could not simply trust each other. The atmosphere was so claustrophobic.”
Singh also recalled how Chappell never gave him any words of encouragement when he took a five-wicket haul against the West Indies during a Test match in Kingston in 2006.
“In the first innings, the West Indies were out for 103 and I took 5 for 13,” he said. “When we came back to the dressing room, there wasn’t even a pat on the back or ‘well bowled’. Instead he congratulated another bowler I don’t wish to name. It was insulting. He always had a target of dropping me but unlike others, he couldn’t do that with me. His anger? Because I stood by Sourav, when he (Chappell) was taking it on him.
“Sourav built an Indian team between 2001 and 2005 while Chappell destroyed it entirely. He used players against each other, used the erstwhile BCCI officials according to his needs and created an atmosphere which no one would want to remember. He imported negativity with his stature.”