New Delhi: Sachin Tendulkar's claims of Greg Chappell being a dictatorial coach seem to have opened a Pandora's box with his then teammate and senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh saying that some players in the side provided "selective misinformation" to the Australian in a phase which "temporarily destroyed Indian cricket".
"Chappell destroyed Indian cricket to such an extent that it required at least 3 years to again get back on track. The worst part was some players in that team, who sucked upto the coach and would supply selective misinformation creating bigger rifts," Harbhajan said on Tuesday after excerpts of Sachin Tendulkar's autobiography 'Playing It My Way' described Chappell as "ringmaster".
When asked about his claim that a few players were using Chappell for their gains, Harbhajan said, "When the right time comes, the names will be revealed. Some people thought that just blindly following Chappell would do them world of good without realising that Indian cricket was going nowhere."
Harbhajan also made another shocking claim that Chappell was writing an e-mail to the BCCI about erstwhile skipper Sourav Ganguly, when India were in the midst of a Test match against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo.
"Sourav was batting out there in the middle and this man was typing a critical e-mail against Sourav, sitting right there in that dressing room. He had no interest in the proceedings of the match. How did I get to know, I was sitting next to him and had a suspicion. Once he went to the washroom, I peeped into his laptop and the mail was lying open. I was stunned to see the contents," Harbhajan revealed.
"Once Sourav came back, I told him about this e-mail and he seemed unaware and equally shocked."
Sourav was his primary target followed by myself, Virender Sehwag, Ashish Nehra, Zaheer Khan and Yuvraj Singh," claimed Harbhajan, who is India's third highest wicket-taker in Test cricket.
Harbhajan was even more scathing in his criticism of Chappell.
"He was supposed to take India to the next level in international cricket. But during that phase, there was one point of time, we were playing like U-14s."
"It was a time, when during tours, we were scared of each other. We couldn't confide our feelings, anguish or despair because we could not simply trust each other. The atmosphere was so claustrophobic," said the feisty cricketer.
Harbhajan remembers Chappell's behaviour during India's victorious Test match at Kingston back in 2006.
"In the first innings, West Indies were out for 103 and I took 5 for 13. When we came back to the dressing room, there wasn't even a pat on the back or 'well bowled'. Instead he congratulated another bowler I don't wish to name. It was insulting. He always had a target of dropping me but unlike others, he couldn't do that with me. His anger? Because I stood by Sourav, when he (Chappell) was taking it on him.
Sourav built an Indian team between 2001 and 2005 while Chappell destroyed it entirely.
"He used players against each other, used the erstwhile BCCI officials according to his needs, created an atmosphere which no one would wants to remember. He imported negativity with his stature," said Harbhajan.