SYDNEY: He is 75 now, but age has not slowed down Ian Michael Chappell. The former Australian captain, who was a firebrand leader in his prime, has spent the last 40 years of his life writing and commentating. Widely respected for his deep knowledge, Chappell, who is much sought after for his unbiased views, took time off from his broadcasting schedule to share his thoughts on issues pertaining to the ongoing series.
What are the reasons for Australia’s batting debacle in this series?
A lot of factors have combined to lead us where we are today. Technical issues, lack of systematic coaching, focus on shorter formats and the adverse effects of IPL and BBL have all played a part.
Is it lack of talent, or lack of proper grooming of talent that is the real problem?
I think the problem is the talent is not maturing. Greg (Chappell) says that there is a lot of young talent around. Unfortunately, after they are getting into the system, they are going off the rails. So I think the system is partly responsible. The club and inter-state cricket also have got issues and are not developing the talents properly.
Do you see any new talent emerging?
There will always be a talented few who will come through. But the problem is you need quite a few to come through in order to make a difference. That is one of the major concerns. Looking back at the U-19 World Cup in 2012, we had quite a few really good players like Travis Head, Kurtis Patterson and Cameron Bancroft. Among them I see only Head playing Tests. Patterson became the youngest to score a hundred in Shield cricket, but he hasn’t come through.
It would be unfair to blame the system alone because ultimately it depends on individual players. They are all skillful but haven’t developed the way they should have.
India adopted the Oz model and climbed up the ladder in Test cricket, whereas Australia have slipped. How do you explain that?
India had a couple of advantages. First, they have got a window for IPL. So your guys are still playing a lot of firstclass cricket. India are not in a position where they are playing a Test series like this and if their batsmen are not making runs, they don’t have to pick a replacement from a T20 competition. A window for IPL also means India are not playing Test cricket during that period, nor do their players go around playing other T20 competitions because they are so well paid in the IPL. The other factor is that India have a huge population, so the talent pool is much larger than Australia’s.
How good is Virat Kohli and where would you place him in cricket’s pantheon of greats?
He is a very good player. It doesn’t matter where I place him because a champion in one era would be a champion in any other era. What pleases me most is that he has been successful in all three formats by playing traditional cricket shots, like Viv Richards used to do.
What is your assessment of Pujara?
He is good player. The only problem is he doesn’t think enough about scoring runs. At times it looks to me that he is batting in the nets — just happy to play out deliveries. He shouldn’t get bogged down as much as he does.
Are you disappointed with the pitches?
Tim Paine said that he would’ve liked to have pitches that suit Australia better. In my view, you have got to win on what has been provided to you. We have got a lot more drop-in pitches now. Only the one in Adelaide seems to have settled down well. This Sydney pitch looks all right. Melbourne has not been successful with the drop-ins. Moreover, the drop-ins don’t seem to deteriorate the way you want them to.