New Delhi: On the day India celebrated their first win over World No. 1 and Olympic champions Germany since 2004, a comment from Hockey India's secretary general Narinder Batra made the headlines - when he called Australia coach Rich Charlesworth a "loose cannon" in need of "psychological treatment".
A foreign journalist pulled Batra's attention to Charlesworth's comment, where he termed the poor crowd turnout at the Hockey World League (HWL) Finals here as a "disgrace". Taking offence to the comment, Batra lashed out Charlesworth.
The Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium has a capacity of 16,000, but the crowd turnout at non-India games has barely been a few hundreds. While the India-Australia quarter-final saw crowd in excess of 7000, the Australia-Netherlands semi-final was witnessed by just 300-400 people in the stands.
But Batra refused to take Charlesworth's comments lying down.
"We don't criticise when we see empty stands in the stadiums abroad. Ric Charlesworth may have been a great player and may be a great tactician and a hockey genius, but he needs basic education when it comes to communication skills," Batra said at a press conference here.
"His communication skills are very poor and he needs to undergo mental and psychological treatment. He is a loose cannon and just says what he wants to. I don't want to make any comments on what he says," added Batra.
The Australia coach, however, refused having used the word "disgraceful".
"I doubt I used the word disgraceful. But it is certainly disappointing to see the crowds here ... May be Batra needs some patients for his hospital," Charlesworth said.
Hockey Australia (HA) too have decided to take up the issue. "We will be discussing the matter with HI at the conclusion of the event about the specific comments we feel were inappropriate regarding our highly respected coach Ric Charlesworth," HA chief executive Cam Vale has said in a statement.
Charlesworth, member of the 1986 World Cup-winning Australian team, has had a troublesome association with Indian hockey.
He was appointed technical advisor in 2008 but left after just 10 months following fall-out with the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) led by KPS Gill back then.
Charlesworth has been Australia coach since 2009 and led them to the 2010 World Cup and the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold. Incidentally, both the tournaments were hosted by India.
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