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Greg Chappell was trying to be bigger than the game: Zaheer Khan

In support of Sachin Tendulkar's claims in his autobiography that releases today, pace ace says former India coach had targeted him too

Sachin Tendulkar’s explosive claims in his autobiography ‘Playing It My Way’ which will be released today has opened a Pandora’s box.

Zaheer Khan
India pacer Zaheer Khan during the first Test against England at Lord's in 2011. Pic/Getty Images.

A day after the batting legend revealed that former India coach Greg Chappell was like a ‘ringmaster’ and had offered to help him takeover captaincy from Rahul Dravid just months before the 2007 World Cup so that ‘together, we can control Indian cricket for years’, India’s pace spearhead Zaheer Khan has now slammed guru Greg’s man-management skills.

Greg Chappell
Former India coach Greg Chappell

Zaheer said Chappell wanted to finish his international career in 2005 and tried to be bigger than the game. “I remember after the Sri Lanka tour (2006) he (Chappell) actually came and told me ‘till the time I am around, you are not going to play for India’. Now, when a coach says something like that, you don’t know what to do.

“According to him my career was over in 2005. But I took it up as a challenge because I always believed that no one is bigger than the game. For me, Greg Chappell was trying to be bigger than the game. I concentrated on the positives and cricket paid me back big time,” Zaheer, currently nursing a shoulder injury, told mid-day yesterday.

Insecurity issue
Zaheer (36) also recalled an incident during the 2005-06 Pakistan tour when the Australian wanted to keep him out of the playing XI. “A day before the match, I was not a part of the playing XI. There was a debate going on just to decide whether I should be playing. The wicket was helpful, it was seaming, but the coach did not want me. I was not part of the XI. Eventually, a few senior players convinced him to include me in the XI. Because of all these thoughts, I just couldn’t sleep. I was not ready for the game,” he said.

Zaheer said team members felt insecure under Chappell. “A lot of players during his tenure felt very insecure. They didn’t get the desired treatment for having contributed to the team’s success. Greg had very strong likes and dislikes. As a coach, he was hardly motivating. The 2007 World Cup debacle (Indian cricket’s all-time low point) was a sign of that,” said the left-arm pacer, who has 311 wickets from 92 Tests and 282 wickets in 200 ODIs.

Zaheer said it was a challenge to make a comeback into the Indian team which he did late in 2006. “I was out of the team for one-and-a-half year just because the coach didn’t want to see me play for India again. I focused on the positives and that’s why I went to play county (Worcestershire) cricket. When such things happen, you’re not just battling your opponent, you’re also fighting battles within the team. When the coach is against you, your energy gets scattered.

Waste of energy
“Your focus is not on the field. You’re focusing on things like whether or not I will get a chance to play. You end up spending too much energy on these things,” added Zaheer about Chappell’s 2005-2007 tenure.

In fact, the situation got so aggrieved within the team that players finally decided to talk to the Board of Control for Cricket in India, said Zaheer. “It (Chappell’s ouster) became the need of the hour. It (discussions with the BCCI) did happen. Everyone was on the same page. The team would have lost big time if we had not acted upon it quickly. The effects were already seen in the 2007 World Cup,” Zaheer concluded.

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