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Chappell v Ganguly, and other coach against captain wars

Wisden India Wisden India 30/06/2016

In the aftermath of India’s 2011 World Cup victory, Gary Kirsten famously said that he’d go to war with Mahendra Singh Dhoni at his side. That’s about as warm and fuzzy as it gets in modern sport.

Of course, not all coaches and captains get along so well. Some would more likely go to war against each other, spears and all. One or the other often ends up losing their cushy job, but the worst-affected are the teams who are pulled in opposite directions as a result of the internal power struggle. Wisden India looks at some notable pairs who bumped heads:

Sourav Ganguly v Greg Chappell

<p>Sourav Ganguly v Greg Chappell</p> © AFP

Sourav Ganguly v Greg Chappell

When a feud between captain and coach has its own lengthy Wikipedia page, you know it’s bad. The two protagonists are both big names in cricket, but the relationship was like that of a dysfunctional power couple, with break-ups and make-ups and ultimately a messy divorce.

It all began during a warm-up game prior to the Zimbabwe tour in 2005, when Chappell asked Ganguly to step down from captaincy for the betterment of the team as his slump in form would affect the “other areas of his game”. Ganguly had sought Chappell’s views before the first Test on who to pick between Mohammad Kaif and Yuvraj Singh. Chappell said both should ideally play with Ganguly sitting out, and that was the start of the storm. Ganguly was ready to leave the tour, but was pacified, and opened the can of worms at a press conference during the Test, saying he had been asked to step down.

There was a hurried patch-up organised between the two, but shortly after the tour, an email Chappell had sent to the Board of Control for Cricket in India was leaked to the media in September 2005, where Chappell stated that Ganguly was “mentally and physically” unfit to lead the side. Ganguly was later deposed as captain and omitted from the side for the One-Day International series against South Africa and an angry Eden Gardens crowd booed the Indian team and cheered for the opposition in November. Kolkata responded to Ganguly’s omission from the Test side by burning effigies and staging protests.

Ganguly eventually made a comeback in both ODIs and Tests, but the seeds of distrust were sown with the final chapter being the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies, where India were eliminated in the first round and Chappell handed his resignation letter. There’s no doubt both Ganguly and Chappell began on the same page, but the two weren’t reading that page with the same prescription lens in their glasses.

Brian Lara v Clive Lloyd

<p>Brian Lara v Clive Lloyd</p> © Getty Images

Brian Lara v Clive Lloyd

Several years before West Indies abandoned their tour of India, there was another incident that was eerily similar — the disastrous tour of South Africa in 1998-99. Money was the issue at hand then as well, with nine members, including Lara and Carl Hooper, the vice-captain, informing Lloyd, the team manager, in November 1998 that they would be heading to London instead of Johannesburg. The West Indies Cricket Board stripped Lara and Hooper of their positions and fined the rest, while the few players that had arrived in South Africa, ignored Lloyd’s pleas, and headed to London “to show solidarity”.

Ali Bacher and Lloyd flew to London and, after several negotiation talks, letters from Nelson Mandela imploring the players to continue the tour, and the re-instatement of Lara and Hooper, the tour was back on. South Africa crushed West Indies 5-0 in the Tests and 6-1 in the ODIs, and Lara and Lloyd were summoned by the WICB to explain the performance. The board, in a lengthy and damning public statement, blamed Lara, Lloyd, and Malcolm Marshall, the coach, for failing as leaders.

Sachin Tendulkar v Kapil Dev

<p>Sachin Tendulkar v Kapil Dev</p> © Getty Images

Sachin Tendulkar v Kapil Dev

There wasn’t any epic confrontation between two of India’s biggest cricketing names, but Tendulkar didn’t seem to be overly impressed with Kapil’s coaching. One of the few revelations in Tendulkar’s autobiography Playing It My Way was his disappointment with Kapil as coach during his second stint at captaincy in November 1999. Tendulkar notes that he was looking forward to work with Kapil. “I have always maintained that the coach’s job is an important one, for he is in a position to play a key role in formulating team strategy.

“However, his method of involvement and his thought process was limited to leaving the running of the team to the captain, and hence he did not involve himself in strategic discussions that would help us on the field,” wrote Tendulkar, eventually giving up captaincy once and for all in 2000.

Kevin Pietersen v Peter Moores

<p>Kevin Pietersen v Peter Moores</p> © Getty Images

Kevin Pietersen v Peter Moores

A dust up between Pietersen and Moores seemed in the offing when they were hammering out their differences behind closed doors, ahead of the fourth Test against South Africa. However, both declared, albeit unconvincingly, a truce. The partnership began with a 4-0 win over South Africa in the ODIs, but the wheels came off after a tough tour of India. In January 2009, the England Cricket Board got rid of Moores, while Pietersen had to step down from captaincy, lasting just three Test matches and four months in the job.

But the drama was just the beginning. In his autobiography, Pietersen used colourful metaphors to describe Moore’s regimented ways, likening him to a “woodpecker … tapping on our heads, all day every day” and a “human triple espresso”. He also felt he was too obsessed with meetings and stats, and this unfortunately became Moores’s calling card. The ECB reinstated him as coach after Pietersen was exiled, but then did another U-turn when they sacked him a second time.

Shahid Afridi v Waqar Younis

<p>Shahid Afridi v Waqar Younis</p> © Getty Images

Shahid Afridi v Waqar Younis

Pakistan are no strangers to squabbles, whether it’s between teammates, opposition, former players or within their board. In this saga, a feud broke out between Afridi, when he was captain of the national ODI and T20I squads, and Waqar, the head coach in May 2011. Waqar pulled no punches in his report of Pakistan’s series in the Caribbean, saying, “as a captain he is very immature, has poor discipline, lacks a gameplan and is unwilling to listen to others’ opinions or advice.”

The Pakistan Cricket Board removed Afridi as captain but, on the same day Waqar quit as coach, Afridi sprung a surprise, announcing his conditional retirement in protest to the way he had been “humiliated” by the PCB. Waqar expressed his disappointment and amazingly denied there had ever been any differences between him and Afridi. Within three months, Afridi voiced his wish to return, saying, “My heart bleeds to play for Pakistan and I am dying to play for my country.” He returned in November 2011, while Waqar too made a comeback as coach in May 2014. Currently, the two are working together in the T20I team as captain and coach. A story worthy of its own soap opera.

Ross Taylor v Mike Hesson

<p>Ross Taylor v Mike Hesson</p> © Getty Images

Ross Taylor v Mike Hesson

This was miscommunication at its finest. The roots of the controversy began earlier, when New Zealand Cricket bizarrely asked Taylor and Brendon McCullum to audition for captaincy before selecting the former. Following the conclusion of the Sri Lanka series, which was tied 1-1 after New Zealand won the final Test in November 2012 courtesy Taylor’s heroics, the man of the moment revealed a bombshell: four day ahead of the series, Hesson had asked him to step down as leader in all formats. He also disclosed that Hesson changed his mind after the series was drawn and was willing to let him stay on as Test captain. Feeling belittled, Taylor resigned from captaincy and opted to take a break from cricket.

Although Hesson maintained that he informed Taylor that he should step aside as captain of only the ODI and Twenty20 International sides while retaining the Test captaincy, the damage seemed irrevocable. NZC apologised to Taylor, and the batsman returned to side in February 2013, under the captaincy of McCullum, and managed to rebuild his relationship with Hesson. It was a crisis that could have wrecked New Zealand cricket, but fortunately everyone put their egos aside for the greater good.

Sourav Ganguly v John Buchanan

<p>Sourav Ganguly v John Buchanan</p> © Getty Images

Sourav Ganguly v John Buchanan

Buchanan had been roped in to coach the glamourous Kolkata Knight Riders side from the inaugural Indian Premier League in 2008. But in 2009, eyebrows were raised when before the second season got underway, Buchanan proposed a multiple-captain theory, and that meant Ganguly stepping down as the captain.People were already buying the popcorn for the invariable fall out. And they didn’t have to wait long. “Tomorrow I can jump out and say we need four batting coaches, four John Buchanans,” joked Ganguly.

There weren’t multiple captains, as it turned out, with only Brendon McCullum leading the side through a disastrous season where Kolkata finished last, and had to endure the ‘Fake IPL Player’ blog cropping up, seemingly detailing escapades within the team and the league. After that edition, Buchanan was booted and Ganguly re-instated as captain for the next season, though the franchise cut ties with him too, ahead of the fourth season.

Samiullah Beigh v Bishan Singh Bedi

<p>Samiullah Beigh v Bishan Singh Bedi</p> © Wisden

Samiullah Beigh v Bishan Singh Bedi

In the 2012-13 Ranji Trophy season, reports of a row between Beigh, the Jammu and Kashmir captain, and Bedi, the coach of the side, spread through the grapevine. Beigh wanted Abid Nabi, the Kashmiri paceman, in the team for the game against Goa; Bedi didn’t. Feeling that Jammu players were being preferred, the Kashmiri players in the team boycotted the next game against Andhra, and Beigh, who was perceived to have stirred the pot, was banned.

The matter, however, was resolved and both are on talking terms, although Bedi resigned in 2013, citing the factionalism between Jammu and Kashmir as a factor in his decision.

Michael Clarke v Darren Lehmann

<p>Michael Clarke v Darren Lehmann</p> © Getty Images

Michael Clarke v Darren Lehmann

Whispers of tension between Clarke and Lehmann first came to light after Steve Smith’s omission from an ODI against Zimbabwe in August 2014, a game which Australia famously lost. Clarke let his displeasure be known, but Lehmann wasn’t too thrilled about him going public.

The speculation gathered momentum when, following a back surgery in December 2014, Clarke declared he would be fit come what may for the second pool match against Bangladesh in February 2015. Some felt Clarke’s high-profile bid to prove his fitness created unnecessary angst amongst the squad, especially after Smith had done a decent job as stand-in captain. Both Lehmann and Clarke denied that the issue was driving a wedge between him and the squad. However, Clarke did eventually lead Australia to World Cup glory and retired after the result, proving all’s well that ends well.

Michael Clarke v John Buchanan

<p>Michael Clarke v John Buchanan</p> © Twitter

Michael Clarke v John Buchanan

The two worked with each other for four years only in a player-coach capacity and, at the time, nothing seemed amiss. The team was winning right, left and centre. Four years after Buchanan stepped down in 2007, Clarke was elevated to captaincy, and still there was nothing to suggest a future feud. But in the middle of the 2015 Ashes tour in England, when Clarke’s form had considerably waned, Buchanan pointed out that the baggy green culture was “under threat and under Michael’s captaincy I can sense it has disappeared a bit”.

A few weeks later, after retiring, Clarke mentioned in his Ashes Diary 2015 that Buchanan didn’t know anything about the baggy green, having never worn one. “He’s still living off the fact that he coached a team that anyone, even my dog Jerry, could have coached to world domination.” Buchanan must not have had a high opinion of Pup’s pup either as he responded with a post on his website titled ‘Michael Clarke showing there is a lot to learn about being a leader and leadership’. Tell us how you really feel, you guys.



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