Ian Chappell: Past his Use-By-Date?

Posted: January 5, 2011 by rjsays in Cricket, Opinion

Rajat jain

Mountain View, CA

5 January 2011

Ian Chappell has been a great batsman, an astute captain, and an interesting observer of the game, and ranks high in the list of favorite cricket columnists and commentators. One of Chappell’s strengths, unlike most of his fellow colleagues, is he does not fear in saying his mind, and does not need to sugar coat his voice to hide something harsh he may have to say. And it is refreshing to see a person not afraid to say the obvious with the fear of making a person or player of a high stature angry, when the cricket world is filled with numerous diplomats (the leaders of the pack being those anchoring the microphone for the IPL). Geoff Boycott is another analyst whom I enjoy listening to.

As great as it might be, speaking up the mind and being critical requires a great thought process, a process following game from an unbiased point of view and evaluating the game not as a critic, but as a fan. Being a great batsman, but more importantly a great captain, Chappell has this ability to analyze the game intelligently and quickly became a constructive critic of the game enriching it with his great intellect. And the great thing about him—as it is with great analysts—was that he knew where his strengths lie and acted accordingly (unlike a Ravi Shastri or Sunny Gavaskar).

Unfortunately for him, though, he has gone so deep into acting on his strengths, that it has become his biggest weakness. In trying to analyze the game from a critic’s point of view (and not a fan’s), he has himself become its greatest critic. And it is not only today, but happening for some time now. In 2007, after the Indian disaster at the World Cup, he was among the first to ask for Sachin Tendulkar’s immediate retirement from the game.

Neither Sachin, nor the Indian panel of selectors followed his judgment, and three years later, Sachin has not only become inarguably the greatest batsman in the last three years, but has gone to such heights that no player barring Jacques Kallis, and (with a faintest of chances) Ricky Ponting can even think of coming close to. And he achieved greatness to such an extent that the same person who wrote in length on Sachin’s dismal mental strength acknowledged it two years later.

And the story is continuing for this former Aussie great. Never the one to support aging out-of-form but champion players, Chappell wondered the state of the Australian team without Mike Hussey as he came back into form in the Ashes after a series of disappointments. On the other hand, though, Chappell has left no stone unturned in asking for the resignation of Ricky Ponting from captaincy, and even possibly his retirement.

It seems that his great analysis skills are have now shrunk only to follow the flow of the river and wet the hands while at it. And it is not only in the analysis of matches and players. It has hampered his analysis of the sport in general. Listen to the podcast by Harsha Bhogle featuring himself and Sanjay Manjrekar, and it is clear as to who was doing the bulk of analysis, and who was merely acting as a critic for being a critic.

Just like Chappell said for his countryman Ponting, I feel sad to say that Ian Chappell is past his “use-by-date.” And it is time he devotes himself to something other than the sport he dearly loves ……… to criticize.

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Comments
  1. goutham says:

    Rajat, you make interesting points. But truth be told, he was always like this. He makes observations as he sees it. Some of it fall flat and he doesn’t mind that.

    I disagree with a lot of what he says. But there’s no doubting his reading of the game or his cricketing acument.

    I still rate him a top observer of the game.

  2. goutham says:

    And I was also among those asking for Hussey’s head post Ashes ’09. And I still don’t think it was wrong. They might have tried out the Smiths and Khwaja’s of the world and built on a side over 18 months before this campaign started. It has lost them time in building a new side. All of a sudden, they are short on quality batsmen.

  3. Chandra says:

    I think that is just the way he is Rajat. The Chapelli School of Thought has often involved a great degree of expectation from the toughness showed by the players on the field – sledge, swear and snare. He’d expect Steven Smith to do a Merv Hughes mind you. Ponting had a frail team at his disposal to be honest – guys who thought they were tough, but really weren’t. After all, they’d just taken a badgering in India pre-Ashes. Mitch was his usual self, a typical unguided missile, who, on his lucky day, could hit the target accurately. Mentally, Ricky lost the battle and that was good enough for England to capitalize on. It wasn’t entirely his fault though.

    Times have changed, but Ian & his opinions clearly haven’t – and I don’t mind, to be honest, as his views are very very interesting, if not always sensible.

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