Tuesday, Oct 04, 2022

India is old-school, people don’t like change: Ric Charlesworth

Over the years, Charlesworth has bumped into friend Chappell and they do exchange their India notes.

India vs Australia, Australia vs India, World Cup 2015, Cricket World Cup 2015, Indian Hockey, Hockey India, Ric Charlesworth, Cricket News, Hockey News, Cricket, Hockey Ric Charlesworth didn’t cut ice with Indian hockey’s bureaucracy.

“Greg Chappell went there and tried to shake it up but India wants a coach who doesn’t do much.” Ric Charlesworth, sitting at his Perth home, is speaking about those tumultuous years — 2007 and 2008 — when India’s two big sporting systems rejected the Aussie way. Within a year of Chappell getting sacked by the BCCI, Charlesworth, after 10 unhappy months as the technical director of Hockey India, quit as well. (Full Coverage| Points table| Fixtures)

One straight-talking legend from Down Under couldn’t cut the ice with hockey’s bureaucracy and the other didn’t exactly endear himself to cricket’s star-studded dressing room. Indian sports would chart a new course, and it would be very different from the rough and ruthless one that the champions from Australia took.

Also Read: What lies beneath?

Charlesworth, who cut short his stint as Australia’s men’s hockey head coach after the stunning 6-0 World Cup title win last year, is relishing the time he gets to spend with his two school-going boys these days. Over the years, he has bumped into friend Chappell and they do exchange their India notes.

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YES to ‘Yes men’ 

Talking about Chappell, you ask if India prefers ‘yes men’ as coaches. “Yeah, often that’s the case… so they have guys who are more relaxed, so John Wright worked pretty well in India, didn’t he?” Charlesworth thinks that India isn’t the place to speak to your mind.

“It is conservative, it’s old school, people don’t like change,” says the coach, surgeon, former parliamentarian, Western Australia opener, Olympian, author, after-dinner speaker and one of the brightest sporting brains in the world.

Charlesworth is aware of Chappell’s problems with Indian cricket’s megastars. “They are bigger than the game. As soon as they become bigger than the game, you know they have an issue, a problem.”

He goes on to add: “Chappell saw that there were several gifted players in India but how do you get them selected in place of the ones who were staying there forever? You have to rebuild continuously, teams need to be dynamic. If India wanted to win all around the world, then you have to change something. You need competition to keep the players hungry and fresh. I think cricket is pretty conservative.”


About allegations that Chappell cultivated mistrust in the Indian dressing room, the 63-year-old with a gruff voice has a shorter answer.

“If you can have people’s trust only if you do what they want that’s pretty hard, I don’t care.” So what about Gary Kirsten, he was a friend to players, so can a coach be a friend? Negative.

“No. If you really want to be exceptional, you have to tell it like it is, you have to have candour.”About his time at the National Stadium in New Delhi, Charlesworth doesn’t have great memories. “When I was the technical advisor, there were a lot of problems. Mr (KPS) Gill was in-charge. Two months after I arrived in India, I was still having a problem with the Sports Authority of India, a massive bureaucracy that is difficult to deal with. Mr Gill and Jyothikumaran got sacked and so there was no leadership, an ad hoc committee with Indian Olympic Associations officials was set up to look after hockey. They were too busy looking at the Commonwealth Games and other things and there was no direction, there were no resources.”


The noted coach adds that he didn’t get paid what he was promised. “Some of it I got; the rest of it was written off long ago.” But he sees some positives from his Indian assignment.

“I had a few run-ins with (Narendra) Batra (the present Hockey India chief), he has done some good things. Financially, they are in a better position, how that gets reflected in their programme should be interesting to see. What happened to me hasn’t happened to subsequent coaches so I was the pathfinder.”

Something that Chappell could claim he was too.

First published on: 24-03-2015 at 12:33:16 am
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