New Delhi: India's pace spearhead Zaheer Khan revealed in an interview to NDTV that Greg Chappell's tenure as coach of the Indian cricket team was the worst phase in his playing career.
Claiming that he could not perform as his place in the side was always under threat, Zaheer said that several senior players were unable to perform under Chappell as they did not know if the coach wanted them in the side ot not. "It was as if you've been framed. 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 personally because I was dropped straight after the Sri Lanka tour, even though I had not performed badly," Zaheer said on NDTV's Walk the Talk show.
Chappell took over the reigns of the Indian team in May 2005 and the Australian looked to encourage young players in the side. He however was constantly in disagreement with senior players including the then skipper Sourav Ganguly. In fact both Chappell and Ganguly were involved in a public spat on a few occasions as well. Zaheer though said that most players were quite worried during the phase that had Chappell as India's mentor. "In that phase it was always a struggle. When you're fighting within the team, when you have a war to fight in your own camp, it is always difficult to win."
In fact at the end of Chappell's tenure around the time India exited early in the 2007 World Cup, the former Australian skipper had asked for an extension in his contract which was denied. For Zaheer however, things looked up as just when he said he felt completely demoralised, the county stint with Worcester came his way. "Worcester taught me the reason I'm playing this game. Sometimes when you play at the highest level, especially in India, the whole country is so passionate about the game, so whether you do well or do badly it affects you in many ways. So when I went to Worcester, it was just me playing cricket," he said.