Troubled times for Greg and Sven

THE Greg Chappell-Sourav Ganguly spat may have been "resolved" according to the politicalspeak of the special review committee set up by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). But, much more will certainly be written over the years about the latest controversy in Indian cricket than the number of amicable words the two are likely to share in the dressing room.

In another part of the world, England, and in another sport, football, more friendly words are likely to be exchanged between Sven Goran Eriksson, the foreign manager of the national team, and his celebrity captain David Beckham than the cold vibes between some members of the team and the manager irrespective of whether the team gains automatic qualification to World Cup 2006 or possibly makes it to the play-offs for the berth to Germany.

Both Eriksson and Chappell, in recent times, have had serious differences with some key players in their squads as a consequence of the nature of their relationships with their captains. Harbhajan Singh and Wayne Rooney were quite open about it, the former through the media and the temperamental striker through the sheer strength of his expletive vocabulary, which he is not averse to displaying on the pitch.

It is speculated that more people are aggrieved with the manager, with Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard being in public circulation as the more discreet ones.

There are Indian cricketing equivalents of the star midfielders, but no names are being bandied around publicly.

Eriksson, undeniably, is in a better situation than Chappell, this despite the fact that the English media and pundits have had enough of the Swede occupying "the second most important job in England" (after that of the person who resides in 10, Downing Street) from early 2001.

The Swede has better damage control professionals, employed by the FA, at his disposal. He is not a second power centre in the team but has blended his voice with that of his captain, who is the most recognised public figure in the country. And most importantly, he knows that the rigorous commercial and professional work ethic of football means that his employer would not force him to make farcical compromises with those who he thinks are detrimental to the team's interests — he would, instead, get the mandate to axe troublesome players or be fired if he continues to make tactical decisions centred on the captain's whims rather than the good of the team and in such a situation he would most certainly have a top European club or country waiting to take him on.

Eriksson's previous record would definitely give him the comfort zone that Chappell does not enjoy presently. It is too early for India's Australian coach to be judged in his job — the two months that he has been in charge of India do not include many positives either — but Chappell's problem is that he would have to put up with a lot of difficulties, which the BCCI systems will give him, because he does not have much of a past before his stint began.

All Chappell has to show, in his five years of coaching experience with South Australia from the 1998-99 season, is four fourth places (among six teams) and a sixth place.

Prior to taking up the England job, Eriksson, as manager of Serie `A' side Lazio, was Italian Cup winner in 1998, UEFA Cup winner in 1999 and Serie `A' winner in 2000. Besides, England had an awesome start under Eriksson with six successive wins in World Cup 2002 Qualifiers including the 5-1 trouncing of archrival Germany in 2001 in Munich.

Immediately on assuming charge, the Swede came out openly in support of Beckham, then all of two games old in captaincy, saying that he has got all the attributes of his ideal captain. He immediately had Beckham — who in October 2000 on hearing that Eriksson was in contention for the manager's job had said that "an Englishman should be England manager" — eating out of his hands.

Chappell would no doubt be thrilled if he were to last five years in his job like Eriksson. For him to do that, he would have to begin immediately putting in place the right structures and playing a proactive role in many areas including the selection of teams. And such a scenario would not only help Indian cricket for World Cup 2007 and beyond but also give the Australian batting great a future in international coaching beyond his Indian years.