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.