“The (Indian) culture is very different, it’s not a team culture. They lack leaders in the team because they are not trained to be leaders. From an early age, their parents make all the decisions, their schoolteachers make their decisions, their cricket coaches make the decisions,” Chappell said.
“The culture of India is such that, if you put your head above the parapet someone will shoot it. Knock your head off. So they learn to keep their head down and not take responsibility.
“The Poms (British) taught them really well to keep their head down. For if someone was deemed to be responsible, they’d get punished. So the Indians have learned to avoid responsibility. So before taking responsibility for any decisions, they prefer not to,” Chappell was quoted as saying during a promotional event for his book ‘Fierce Focus’.
Chappell said Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was an exception to that rule but even he seems to have lost to the system.
“Dhoni is one of the most impressive young men that I have ever worked with. When he came into that Indian team, you just knew that he was a leader in the making. He was definitely someone who could make decisions, and he didn’t mind putting his head above the parapet, and didn’t mind putting the bigger players in their place. I think he is the best thing to have happened to Indian cricket in recent times,” he said.
Chappell, who was the coach of Indian team for two turbulent years from 2005 to 2007, reckoned that excessive cricket has now started taking a toll on Dhoni.
“But looking at him on this tour – I didn’t meet or speak to him at all – but just watching the body language and just watching him on the field, it wasn’t the MS Dhoni that I knew. I think Indian cricket has worn him down as well.
“Especially, captaining all three formats, and India plays about 50 per cent more cricket than Australia does. And Dhoni played four years, captaining three years while being wicketkeeper and their key batman – one of the best chasers of a target that I’ve ever seen,” he said.
The former Australian captain also said that the Indians appeared disinterested in Test cricket during the just-concluded disastrous tour Down Under.
“It was obvious from the start of the tour that the Indians weren’t really interested in Test cricket,” Chappell said.
“After the Australians showed that they were going to be a formidable foe, I was very disappointed with the Indians. And having worked with many of them and having been in the dressing room with them, Test cricket was too hard for most of them. They can only make a lot of money playing 20-over cricket. Fifty-over cricket they can sort of put up with.
“Test cricket for a lot of, not only India, a lot of subcontinent teams, I think it’s pretty tough. And the challenge for Test cricket is, without the sort of grounding that we (Australians) had as kids, Test cricket is too hard. It’s very demanding mentally, physically and emotionally,” he added.
Chappell also felt that Virender Sehwag’s captaincy ambition hurt the team.
“Sehwag thought he should be captain after (Anil) Kumble, so there is a bit of a collision there,” he said.
“I think Dhoni is getting to a point where Test cricket is getting too hard for him, and the undercurrent around the dressing room cannot help,” Chappell concluded.
He was also of the view that Test cricket needed a strong India.
“I think Australia and England will always look at Test cricket and try and preserve it. South Africa to a lesser degree. Up until this summer I thought India as well. We probably had four major Test-playing countries, and the others would play Test cricket spasmodically,” Chappell concluded.
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