MELBOURNE: In a move sure to raise eyebrows ahead of the First Test on Boxing Day, Australia’s national talent guru, Greg Chappell, has announced he will personally be coaching Sachin Tendulkar throughout the whole of India’s current tour.
The controversial tactic, first mooted as part of the Argus Report into improving the fortunes of Australian cricket, will involve the combative ex-India manager offering The Little Master one-on-one net sessions, as well as motivational advice and tips on where best to bat in the order. Chappell, 63, said that it was an excellent opportunity to ‘give back’ to Indian cricket, after having taken ever so much from it during an ill-fated and tempestuous two-year reign as coach.
Speaking from Sydney, CA chief executive James Sutherland said the move was an attempt to ‘demystify’ Tendulkar, who has consistently held sway over Australia throughout his career: “These days, Cricket Australia is always prepared to do the unthinkable – we call it ‘The Phil Hughes Doctrine’ – and that’s why we’ve turned to the one man we know has the ability to stop Sachin performing. Warne, McGrath, and even the great Shaun Tait have all failed to get on top of Tendulkar over the years, but you have to say Greg made a pretty good job of it when he was India coach.”
Ever eager to help Indian cricket, Chappell said that he would be focusing on fixing Tendulkar’s leg-side flicks, claiming that “they could do with a little more polishing.” Tendulkar’s signature cover drive is also said to be under threat, apparently “lacking the oomph” that Chappell famously instilled during a one-on-one session in 1987.
From New Delhi to Chennai, fans have been left uncharacteristically fearful by the news, knowing that Chappell’s record against India is hugely impressive. One supporter with close links to the side, but who would only give his name as ‘Sourav’, was prepared to admit he was worried: “If there’s one man that India fear more than anyone it’s Greg Chappell. You always expect a few underhand tricks from the Aussies, but this is beyond the pale,” said Sourav, clad in dark sunglasses and baseball cap. ” They’ve hit the jackpot,” he added ruefully.
Chappell himself declined to be drawn on the row, saying only that he was “looking forward to helping Sachin again,” and was confident he could produce the same results as last time. He also refused to dismiss further rumours circulating within the apoplectic Indian media, alleging the former Australia captain has further claimed to be working closely with VVS Laxman, in order “to iron out a few technical crinkles in his cover drive.”