Rahul success was not universally enjoyed by team: Greg

Mumbai: Former India coach Greg Chappell has ignited a fresh controversy in a newly-released book on Rahul Dravid, saying had the retired batting great received the same support that he gave other captains, he would have been the country`s most successful skipper.

Chappell wrote that despite Dravid guiding the Indian team to a number of victories, his success was not enjoyed by some of the members of the side.

"Sadly the success of the team was not universally enjoyed within the team. Some individuals felt threatened by the new world order and appeared to work against Rahul," Chappell has written in the book `Rahul Dravid – Timeless Steel`, which was launched here on Wednesday.

"Had he been given the same wholehearted support in the role that he had given others, I think the recent history of Indian cricket may have been very different and he could have gone on to become the most successful Indian captain ever," he added.

The former Australian skipper recalled how Dravid led India to nine ODI wins in a row by inserting the opposition after winning the toss, regardless of the conditions, and then went on to pilot the team to a world record of 17 consecutive wins batting second.

"To learn how to get better at chasing a target, Rahul kept asking the opposition to bat first, no matter the conditions. Under his leadership, India won nine ODIs in a row against Pakistan and England, and went on to complete a world record of 17 consecutive wins batting second."

Stating that the same approach had helped India win Test matches abroad as well, Chappell wrote, "A similar approach to Test cricket brought about India`s first overseas victory in the West Indies for 35 years and a first-ever Test victory in South Africa, which could have been turned into a series win if the team had batted better in the second innings in the final Test in Cape Town."

Chappell`s reference is to India`s Test series victory (1-0 in the four-match series) in the Caribbean in 2006 followed by its maiden win in Johannesburg`s opening Test of the 2006-07 series, before Dravid`s team lost the next two games and the rubber to the Proteas.

Chappell, who had a wonderful rapport during his tenure as coach with the Bangalorean in sharp contrast to his stormy relationship with skipper Sourav Ganguly, has written he was fond of Dravid. "Men don`t say these things, but I have a genuine affection for Rahul Dravid," Chappell has said in the book published by the Walt Disney Company (India) Pvt Ltd.

Stating that Dravid gave everything he had on the cricket field, Chappell has written that world`s second highest scorer in Test cricket was a much better captain than he would ever be credited with.

"He was an excellent deputy, in that he gave whole-hearted support without ever thinking he might be better than the incumbent, and when he got the job he was a much better captain than he will ever be credited with," Chappell has written.

Praising the former India no. 3 further, Chappell has stated in his article that Dravid never took rash decisions as a player or uttered ill-advised words on or off the field.

Recalling an incident during a Test match against Sri Lanka at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi, Chappell has observed how Dravid`s constant search for improving himself as a batsman had helped him tackle the island nation`s spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan in the second innings, after being dismissed cheaply in the first.

"Muralitharan took seven for 100 in the first innings, in which Sachin Tendulkar made a patient century. Rahul was one of many who had found scoring runs against Muralitharan in the first innings," Chappell has written.

Saying how Dravid sought out his advice on how to tackle the prodigious off spin of Murali, Chappell has recalled how the batsman was not satisfied with his words that he (Dravid) could not have done better. "He wouldn`t accept that as an answer and insisted I do better, so I said that he had to look for scoring opportunities off every ball, no matter how hard it was."

Taking the cue, Dravid batted positively and made a fluent 53 in the second essay before being run out, Chappell has written. "Batting for survival against Murali in those conditions, I said, was not an option. Even if you succeeded in surviving you wouldn`t make any runs, so the game would be lost anyway," Chappell has recalled of having told Dravid during that night`s dinner.

"When one thinks of survival, the feet do not move well, which means the scoring opportunities will be missed. This, I said, is a sure way to boost the bowler`s confidence. The best way to build your own confidence and dent that of the bowler is to score off every poor ball he bowls and some of his good ones.

"The only way to do that, I said, was to look to make the "danger zone" (the area a metre or so in front of a good stride forward) as small as possible by scoring from any delivery pitched marginally full there or short of it," Chappell has written.

Recalling he had been asked to elaborate by Dravid, Chappell has said he had advised the stalwart to be positive in intent which, he (Chappell) felt, "would actually give oneself a better chance of defending against the good balls."

"Rahul became excited by the prospect of batting in the second innings and was quick to ask me to throw some balls to him on the outfield the next morning so that he could practise the mindset that we had discussed. That he went out and scored a fluent 53 (run out) that day was more about his ability to interpret my suggestion than the suggestion itself," Chappell has written.

Saying it needed some boldness to alter the way he batted in the middle of a Test, Chappell has declared "it was that sort of courage that made him the player he was".

"The same courage and belief made him a good captain. His propensity to think things through may have meant that he was always going to appear conservative tactically, but going by that would be to underestimate his ability to take calculated risks," Chappell has added in praise of Dravid`s leadership style.