India's pace spearhead Zaheer Khan considers the two years with Greg Chappellasnationalcoachthe worstof
his decade-long career. He says the controversial Australian made him feel unwanted
in the team.
Khan said he and other senior players
were constantly worried about their
places in the side and unable to perform
during that tumultuous period between
2005 and 2007.
‘It was as if you've been framed,’ he said.
‘It was like, ‘we don't want you in the team.
It's not about performance, we don't like
your attitude, you're stopping the growth of
cricket in the Indian team.’ I felt it person-
ally, because I was dropped straight after
the Sri Lanka tour, even though I had not
He continued: ‘I was fortunate enough to
go to South Africa to represent the Asia XI
(in the Afro-Asia Cup). I got about nine
wickets and I was recalled for the next
series. In that phase it was always a strug-
gle. When you're fighting within the team,
when you have a war to fight in your own
camp, it is always difficult to win.’
Chappell took over as India coach in May
2005; his tenure was marred by serious dif-
ferences between him and senior players,
including Sachin Tendulkar. He also had a
public spat with the then captain, Sourav
Ganguly, who was dropped from the team
but later recalled.
At the end of his tenure, following India's
first-round exit from the 2007 World Cup,
Chappell decided not to seek an extension
of his contract.
Khan said, in contrast, former South
Africa batsman Gary Kirsten's tenure as
India coach was ‘amazing.’
Zaheer terms time under
Chappell worst of his career
PUNI T PARANJPE/REU TERS
‘He (Kirsten) has given everyone their
space. He's understood Indian culture and
how we do things. He's taken that step of
coming closer to us rather than dictating.
He was our friend, not a coach,’ Zaheer
said on Indian news channel NDTV's Walk
the Talk show.
Kirsten took over in tumultuous circumstances but left the job on a high, guiding
the Indian team to a historic World Cup triumph after 28 years, besides taking them to
the pinnacle of the Test rankings.
Khan said the only positive of Chappell's
tenure was the inclusion of youngsters in
the team, but added, ‘A youngster coming
in is a good sign, but not at the cost of a
cricketer who is doing his bit.’
The 32-year-old Baroda pacer said the
county stint with Worcestershire came at
the right moment for him when things
were not going his way. Khan signed up
with Worcestershire for the 2006 county
season and finished as the highest wicket-
taker in Division Two of the County
Championship, taking 78 wickets at 29.07.
‘Our bowling will determine how
successful we are for the next 5-10 years’
I think it is unfair to compare guys who have just started
out to someone who has been there for a long time. Who
knows what these guys will be in the next 10-15 years, so
people (have) got to give them time before passing judgment. Probably 10 years down the line someone might have
done better than all of us, who knows?
Personally for me, longevity has not just been about constantly improving and looking to get better. It has been
about raising the bar or raising the standards, to keep
pushing myself to new heights all the time.
You started your career scoring 95 on your debut at Lord’s
in 1996. Laxman recently said he wants to score a hundred
at Lord’s. Is that something you want to achieve as well,
because this could well be your last tour to England?
It would be nice but it would be nicer to win a Test match
at Lord’s. I have been there for three tours but I am yet to
win a Test match at Lord’s. We would love to win a match
there and it would be lovelier if I can score a hundred too.
The more important thing obviously would be win a match
at Lord’s and it being the first match of the series it would
set up the series for us perfectly.
You have scored 31 centuries, including five double cen-
turies. Can you name your top five innings in Test cricket?
It is hard to sit down and pick a few from the list. All of
them are special and each of them has its significance in its
own way. They are all special to me. Some of them, obviously the ones where you play an innings that leads to victory, and it might not be a hundred but maybe a 60 or 70
(are more special). Those innings which have helped the
team to victory, all of them are special ones.
You are third in the all-time top run scorers in Test
cricket with 12063 runs and you also hold the world
record for most catches. Are you satisfied with your
achievements in Tests?
I am happy about it but it is hard to be satisfied when you
are still playing and looking to get better and keep constantly improving. You don’t want to get too satisfied, and
that is really the way I played cricket. I look to keep getting
better and keep raising the bar.
How do you rate Mahendra Singh Dhoni as a captain?
He has been terrific and he has done a great job. As a captain he has had a lot of success and he has just been able to
exude a very good calm on the field. He has been tactically
very good and he won some very big tournaments. It has
probably been phenomenal what he has done in terms of
victories as a captain. Under him, India has gone to number one in Tests, won the World Cup. His team (Chennai
Superkings) won a couple of IPLs, the Champions League.
He has done a great job so far.
New coach Duncan Fletcher believes that India can domi-
nate world cricket for the next 5-10 years. Do you agree?