Oct 4, 2013
Upton said that their IPL 2013 campaign was almost derailed after news broke out that three of their players — Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila — were involved in the spot-fixing controversy.
Along with captain Rahul Dravid, coach Upton was seen as a central figure who helped to sort out the issues and motivate the team and eventually help them in finishing third.
Upton said that those intervening days were very devastating for the team. “Those five days were devastating. The Royals have always had incredible team spirit. We had some great fundamental values. Suddenly, all that seemed to have been destroyed,” Upton told Times of India.
“It was like someone had thrown a hand grenade into our team. I hadn’t anticipated the ripple effect that would follow. It was an extremely difficult period for us.”
He said that it was not just about forgetting about the three players and moving on. “Initially, I had thought once we get rid of these three players, we could just get on with our game. But that wasn’t how it was. They were part of the family.
“They were our friends and were involved with everything. Some of the players used to get along very well with them. The worst thing was that the cancer was inside. It wasn’t as if our guys had gone out to meet them.”
After the news broke out, there were many unconfirmed reports and rumours about other members of the team being involved in the controversy. Upton said that the other players were afraid.
“The players who had not done anything were afraid they could be caught up in this whirlpool. Normally, guys talk cricket among themselves. At that time, they didn’t know if any of these talks had been used as information.”
He went on to say that Sreesanth’s behaviour was an issue for the support staff. “I would just say that during IPL 2013, some of Sreesanth’s behaviour had been a cause for concern for the support staff working with the team. He had been quite erratic at times, but then that’s how he has always been,” he added.
On being asked whether he had any suspicion about any of these events happening at the time, Upton said, “Never. But then, later, when I sat down to go through my notes, I realised that certain incidents did come out as strange and wasn’t according to our strategy.”