Former India opener Aakash Chopra, speaking on his YouTube channel, has spoken of a spat in the Kolkata Knight Riders camp between coach John Buchanan and captain Sourav Ganguly during the first two seasons of IPL, saying it aggravated to the point that Buchanan “wanted to remove Ganguly as skipper”.
The controversial captain-coach relationship, which had substantial interest in the media, formed the backdrop of KKR’s unsuccessful run in the first two IPL seasons. Chopra, who was part of the squad for the 2008 edition, attributed the feud to a difference in their working styles.
“In the first year of IPL, there was John Buchanan [as coach], [fellow Australian] Ricky Ponting was also there,” Chopra said. “Sourav Ganguly was the captain. I have seen this from close quarters – their relationship was alright to begin with, but it worsened [with time].”
Buchanan was said to have mooted a controversial “multiple-captaincy theory”, which did not go down too well with Ganguly. In March 2009, Ganguly clarified that he wasn’t consulted about the plan. Buchanan, who had formerly coached the Australia side, said in 2018 that there was always an issue with Ganguly because “he did not have my support in T20 cricket”.
“Buchanan’s way of working was different, and Sourav had a different temperament,” Chopra said. “In the end, he also wanted to remove Sourav Ganguly from captaincy, which actually happened the following season [in 2009, when Brendon McCullum was named captain], because in the first season, the team came sixth [on the points table], and then they came eighth when Sourav was not the captain.”
Buchanan was sacked as coach in 2009 after the team ended at the bottom of the IPL points table, and Ganguly was reinstated as skipper the following season.
"There was his decision to hold vocabulary lessons during the '05 Ashes, the intention being to encourage his players to use a list of polysyllabic words in everyday sentences."
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) May 26, 2020
“Eventually, John Buchanan had to leave,” Chopra said. “Some of the things, because I was privy to that, were overstated, like they talked about making three captains, which was not the case. But, that’s what happens. If one thing is wrong, it becomes a domino effect, other things also go wrong, and it’s said that nothing was good during his leadership.
“But then, man-management … one thing that I had against him was that he gathered all his friends and associates there, the whole family had come in. There were a lot of [his] people, I mean, that did not go down very well. On the one hand, you carefully pick and choose players [for the squad], on the other hand, the whole family’s travelling with you as support staff. That was all happening.
“It left a little sour taste. It stands out like a sore thumb in KKR’s history.”