Ian Chappell sat comfortably on the sofa in the Jaipur suite of The Trident hotel ahead of a lengthy series of interviews. At 74, he looked fitter than many of his age. He calmly answered all the questions posed to him, some of which were repetitive. Having seen the game from different seats in the stadium — as a player, captain, commentator and spectator — the once aggressive Australian captain is not too happy about what has hit his national cricket team in the past few months. Chappell is not unnecessarily hopeful of a miraculous renovation of the legacy that was built over the years. He sees a long road ahead for Australian cricket to reemerge from the shackles, and despite not saying in it as many words, one senses his anguish in the undercurrent of his answers and body language.
Firstpost interacted with one of the most successful Australian captains, batsmen and now a vigorous commentator, on aggression in cricket, the ball-tampering scandal and whether Steve Smith and David Warner would be able to make a comeback.
Right after IPL ends, India are going to tour England and Australia. How do you see India doing on these two important tours?
India have got a good chance. Certainly in Australia, they have got a very good chance. One, because Australia are diminished. Two, now India has become more friendly with Australian conditions. They have got good fast bowlers and good wrist-spinners. So these are two important areas in Australia. They have got a good chance against England too. England's batting is very dicey.
England captain said the other day that younger generation of cricketers are not giving too much importance to Tests and county cricket. What do you have to say on this statement?
I think there are many administrators who think that the game can survive on T20 alone. I don't agree with them. For cricket to retain artistry, you need to play the longer forms of the game. I don't think cricket can exist solely on T20.
In recent past we have seen a lot of talk about aggression in the sport. There was Kagiso Rabada's incident in South Africa recently. What is aggression in your terms?
The two best fast bowlers I have played against were Andy Roberts and John Snow. Neither of them said a word to me but I knew they were aggressive. They showed me aggression through their bowling and body language. They never needed to say anything. If Australia want to look at someone who is a good example of how you can be aggressive and successful and not be objectionable, have a look at Pat Cummins. He is a terrific young cricketer. He does not shoot his mouth around. He just bowls well. Any batsman who is facing Cummins knows he is in a contest. Pat does not have to tell him that.
After the ball-tampering scandal, many former cricketers and cricket experts raised fingers on Australia's dressing room culture. What do you have to say?
Well, I probably object to the fact that this is called Australian culture because I don't think what they (Steve Smith, David Warner, Cameron Bancroft) were doing is a part of our culture. We were a very aggressive cricket team. We used aggression differently. Again, I get back to the same point — you don't need to shoot your mouth off. To me that does not make a great player. If somebody is shooting his mouth, I would think he is a bit of a bully. The trouble was looming for Australian cricket team. I did not know what it was going to take to make that happen but now we know.
Now with Steve Smith gone for one year and Tim Paine named as captain, how do you see him taking Australian cricket forward?
I think Tim Paine would do a good job. The only concern for me is his fingers problem. You cannot have a captain who is playing one game and misses two. That's very hard. That's Tim's problem. He has fragile fingers.
On captaincy level, do you see him doing well?
I think he will be fine. He was the right guy to go to. I think he is the right guy to go for a long term.
Do you think Steve Smith will be as good as he was in the last few years when he makes comeback?
I doubt it very much. This (ban) is going to dent his confidence a lot. It's a hard thing to overcome. I think he will come back as an Australian player. I don't think he will come back as a captain. But I also think that he won't be the player that he was before.
What about David Warner? Can he make a comeback from here?
I am not sure if Cricket Australia want him back, which is sad because he is a good cricketer. I have admired watching him. He has been probably misguided at some places and probably been a bit silly on his own behalf but I still feel he is a very good cricketer. It would be sad if he does not come back but it won't surprise me because of the fact that he was so outspoken during the pay dispute with the board. I get a feeling that Cricket Australia were looking for an opportunity to get rid of him.