Search This Blog

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

something on Coaching - meet the new Indian Coach : Duncan Fletcher

In olden days, only those who struggled in the classroom would go for private tuitions; for others the class room deliverance was quite enough to succeed.  With years, the concept changed – now a days, coaching is seen as an effective tool for optimizing efficiency.  One need to be a good coach – need not have the best of the abilities in the field and need not have succeeded at the top is another theory.

Partly true with India perhaps for the person with a century in his first and last tests and 22 in between – with career average closer to 54, most stylish player of his time – divided the team, the morale more than the performance reached its nadir – no prize for guessing who ?  -  it was  Gregory Stephen Chappell – born in 1948 and played for Australia, Queensland, Somerset and South Australia.   The mercurial batsman with 24 centuries in 87 tests was not a great hit amongst the cricketers……….

Yes a time immediately after the pinnacle of glory in WC, a new coach is bound to find it difficult in a country so vast as India but with a good enough system for identifying talent and some wisemen as selectors.  He could bank on the present prospects of IPL too in fishing for raw new talent, if required.    India has a chequered history of coaches -  they did not have a full time local coach for too long.  We have seen John Wright, Greg Chappel, Gary Kirsten and now Duncan Fletcher.  Without reading in between in 2003 when India reached the finals, it was John Wright, when we won in 2011, it was Gary and when we plummeted out of the cup in 2007, it was the mercurial Greg Chappel.  Now to read in between, India won the T20 WC in 2007 without a full-fledged coach.  The Team manager Lalchand Rajput doubled as a coach for a relatively young and new team under Dhoni.  Gary himself had a reasonable level of success for South Africa playing in 101 tests and 185 one dayers.  To his credit, it should be said that Kirsten did announce his plans to hang prior to WC stating that he wants to spend time with his two growing sons !

In the game of cricket, on the field, it is all split second decisions – you cannot rethink of your strategy, the book or the words of coach when the cherry is hurled at you @ closer to 100mph nor when the wily Murali or any other spinner bowls a doosra or a wrong one. It is more of eye sight and foot work.  There are some who deal big though they lack the latter.  The essential ingredient of success is performance though there is much hype when they overstate that some part of the match is already played much before the first ball is delivered.  Cricket strategists rely on empirical data and watch hours of footage deciding on strengths and weaknesses of players and plotting their downfall…

The mercurial candid clever Bishan Singh Bedi who could spin a web over the batsmen had a brief stint and was the first to don the full time coach of the Indian team.  That was in 1990 when it was close to a disaster which made him quip that he would dump the entire team in the sea.  We have seen some Indian coaches – one of the prime differentiators is that Indian coaches have been individuals who had tried to put this stamp of thinking whilst Westerners were strategists who would bring along a load of support staff from biomechanist, physio, motivators and mental tougheners.   The greatest motivator by performance – Kapil Dev Nikhanj struggled when he donned the cap of National Cricket coach in 1999 – alongside Sachin Tendulkar who also failed as a captain.   He walked over the other contender Krish Srikkanth  and fellow bowler Manoj Prabhakar tried to scandalize.  Rabindra Ramnarayan (none other than Robin Singh) born in Trinidad did improve the lot when he was the fielding coach.   The dour and doughty opener Anshuman Dattajirao Gaekwad  preceded and succeeded Kapil as Coach.

Now the Board has appointed Duncan Fletcher to replace Gary Kirsten. Duncan Fletcher was at the helm in June 1983 in Zimbabwe’s moment of glory when they ripped apart the mighty Aussies – he captained them, scored an unbeaten 69 and took 4 for 42 – that could not be the reason for the decision of the BCCI to appoint him as Indian coach.  He has had stints with  domestic teams  of SA, England.  After England’s debacle in 1999 WC, he replaced David Lloyd.  He was there on the side of Kiwis when they struggled in their recent tour to India in 2010 and was SA’s batting consultant in 2011 WC.  He was with Glamorgan when the county registered the first title in 28 years; his association with country cricket has been quite long.  After the Ashes triumph in 2005 , he was heaped with praises and touted as a great coach and two years later, England lost all their tests in Australia; he had some skirmishes with some famous English players is another story.   His style reportedly is more of business orientation with reports to Captain and a group of Senior players and keen on analysis.

Duncan Andrew Gwynne Fletcher  is going to have a two year contract.  He has played 6 one dayers, scored 191 with 71 as his highest and has never scored a century and has taken 7 wickets. When the minnows played Aussies at Trentbridge, Nottingham way back in 9th June 1983, they were real outsiders.  At one point half side was back with less than 100 on board but Fletcher’s innings saw them reach respectable 239/6.  Aussies initially coasted off to century  but eventually finished 13 runs short surprising all cricket followers.  Fletcher, Traicos, Dave Houghton, Pycrofts, Peter Rawson became known names.  For those with good memory, Indians were reeling at 17 for 5 at Turnbridgewells when Kapil made that historic 175.  Curiously, chasing 240 for a win, Aussies were not all out but finished at 226 for 7 in the allotted 60 overs.
Coming back to the appointment of Duncan Fletcher, here is some piece of Indian history on coaches. 
During 2005, Tom Moody, Mohinder Amarnath, Desmond Haynes were the names that went rounds but it was Greg Chappel.   But in June 2007, a seven-man committee listened to presentations from  Graham Ford.  To create the illusion of a contest for a job that had once interested so many, the board roped in Emburey, a man with no coaching credentials to speak of.  Both of them had flown in, in the same flight & Emburey returned empty handed. It was no secret that Ford was the players' choice, with the grapevine suggesting that the move for him had been initiated by Rahul Dravid, the Indian captain. After Greg Chappell's tenure, characterised by off-field controversy as much as anything on the field.  Ford - who has a reputation as a back-room facilitator rather than an outspoken disciplinarian - was seen as the perfect choice to heal the fissures within the Indian team.  There were reports that Dav Whatmore had already been offered the job. 

This man Ford, had nothing significant as a player having averaged a poor 13.5 in fist class.   He was an assistant to Bob Woolmer and was fired in the Hansiegate affair.  This man was offered the job but it ended up a fiasco because he denied the job expressing his desire to stay with Kent. Perhaps negotiated a better pay packet with the Indian Board offer.    Eventually, India toured England without a coach.  An  embarrassment that the BCCI brought upon itself – Viru was dropped for that tour.   Though he was behind the winning combination in T20 WC win 2007, Lalchand Rajput was axed for no reason.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.


  1. In my opinion, Duncan Fletcher is way better than Gary Kirsten. I remember he's triumph in 1983, it was just great.

  2. A firangee is always considered superior to desi - that is the vestige of colonialism. will BCCI dare to think of a Lankan coach say Mendis or Ranatunga or Aravinda de silva ? _ Senanayake

  3. Hey everyone, it's Karena and Katrina from Tone
    It Up, and we're working our obliques, we're also getting a good,
    little cardio workout. I just want you to do pawg tumblr is raise up, tap onto that shin and come right back down
    to parallel.

    Visit my page :: pawg myspace