New Delhi/Melbourne: Sachin Tendulkar’s scathing attack on Greg Chappell today received the whole-hearted backing of two of his then teammates — Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh — even as the Australian hit back at the batting maestro’s claim that he tried to topple Rahul Dravid as captain.
A day after Tendulkar’s revelations that Chappell tried offering him the captaincy at the expense of Dravid barely a few months before the 2007 World Cup, the Australian denied discussing such a possibility with the now-retired legend.
In his autobiography — ‘Playing it My Way’ — which is due for release on Thursday, Tendulkar has claimed that the Australian visited his house and tried to convince him to take over the captaincy from Dravid.
But Chappell said he was stunned by the claims.
“Whilst I don’t propose to get into a war of words, I can state quite clearly that during my time as Indian coach I never contemplated Sachin replacing Rahul Dravid as captain,” Chappell said in a statement.
“I was therefore very surprised to read the claims made in the book. During those years, I only ever visited Sachin’s home once, and that was with our physio and assistant coach during Sachin’s rehabilitation from injury, at least 12 months earlier than what was reported in the book,” he said.
Chappell said he enjoyed a pleasant afternoon at Tendulkar’s home and the captaincy issue never came up for discussion.
Tendulkar, in the book, said that he was shocked by Chappell’s suggestion and the lack of respect shown to Dravid.
Tendulkar is scathing in his criticism of Chappell, who was the national coach from 2005 to 2007, describing him as a “ringmaster who imposed his ideas on the players without showing any signs of being concerned about whether they felt comfortable or not”.
However, Zaheer and Harbhajan supported Tendulkar’s version of the events, stating that they too had been victims of Chappell’s dictatorial style of functioning.
While Zaheer claimed that Chappell tried his best his to prevent his comeback into the national team and called him a “control freak”, Harbhajan said that the Australian “temporarily destroyed Indian cricket” and targetted the senior players.
“After he was appointed the coach of the Indian team, he once came upto me and told “Zaheer, you will not be playing for India till I remain the coach,” Zaheer told PTI.