No one gave them a chance. The pundits predicted a rout. But the Indians proved them wrong, and they did it in style. They showed the world again that the reason why sport captivates like nothing else is because of its unpredictability. In a nation where cricket is no less than any religion, in the middle of the Bullring, along came one of the greatest moments in the history of Indian cricket. India had won a test in South Africa for the first time. And they had comprehensively outplayed the hosts in all departments, and had thoroughly deserved their place in history. And now the Indians are off to Durban to prepare for another assault on history, and who knows, they might well pull it off.
But the victory left one issue unresolved. An issue that screams out saying that Greg Chappell deserves his due. It is true that his team has been playing below par cricket for the past 6 months, but the way he has bounced back speaks volumes about his character, and the spirit he has installed into the team. It is true that he has made unnecessary comments on certain issues, but the way he has carried himself has been admirable. It is true that he had his share of mistakes in the Ganguly spat, but he has welcomed Ganguly back when he was convinced he had earned his place. I am not advocating that Chappell should be idolized, just that he deserves to be judged fairly.
When India was mauling the Sri Lankans and the English at home experimentation was labeled a stroke of genius from the coach. But volatility is the biggest problem of the Indian gang of fans, media and former cricketers. India lost the series in West Indies and performed badly in the Champions Trophy and God turned into devil. The media actually had the careless audacity to ask questions in polls as to whether Chappell is the right man for the job to take India to the World Cup. When you have given him time till the world cup, let him do his job. A fair assessment of Chappell’s tenure in India can only be made after the World Cup. Responsible former cricketers call upon Dravid to take charge of the situation and stop Chappell’s experiments. Some former cricketers even went to the extent of saying that this is the problem with having a foreign coach. Just as only in India can a whole nation stand up and worship cricket like no other, so can only in India can people rakishly question the cricketing mind of a certain Greg Chappell, a man of a very high stature in cricketing history. Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and their own criticism but one must think twice before questioning a man of Chappell’s stature. Constructive criticism is encouraged, not cynicism.
We must have patience and look to the experiments of Chappell from the perspective of the long run, and look at the flexibility he is trying to bring to the team, and that is something which we, as a nation never do. We are worshippers of instant ‘celebritism’ and results. The greatest of Greg Chappell’s qualities as a coach and as a cricketer is that he believes that Success is a journey, not a destination. His experimentation can only lead him forward and the team knows exactly what his ideas are. All the potential problems would undoubtedly have been sorted out in team meetings and the team knows the coach’s ideas and that is all that matters and hence will have no effect on the morale of the players. That is how the team could come back strongly when the chips were down.
Ignorance is bliss. And it has always been that way with Indian cricket team’s followers, whether it is the media, the former cricketers and not to mention the fans who have unfortunately always strived hard to epitomize this. It is time for this to change and change for the better, quickly and drastically. It is time we start respecting the greatness of Greg Chappell and stop questioning his every move without clearly understanding clearly what his motives are. So at least in this author’s opinion, let all arguments cease. That historic Monday afternoon in Johannesburg just emphatically restated the point. Greg Chappell knows what he is doing. Indian Cricket is in safe hands.