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Monday, January 16, 2012

So what is Duncan doing ?

So it is not Dhoni who has to take the entire blame – as we saw in my earlier post.  It is total failure of our famed batting line up.  It is not just batting that collapsed and let India down – it is the Planning, Captaincy, Selection, acclimatization, preparation for the tour – dismal thought process on all these have ruined making the results a giveaway.

Mind you this is not the best or most dangerous Aussie team that we had to face.. they also have the problem of ageing, injury-ridden, captaincy transition and more. But by no stretch imagination, their batting was tested nor were we prepared to face them on helpful conditions, which anyway was preset and too well known.. so a major blame should game to the planners and the Coach at the helm – Duncan Fletcher.    The bowling has been decent enough, bowling the opposition out and have had them pinned down on more than a couple of occasions but again there is no planning, no concept-thinking as to what should be our priority, how a new batsman needs to be attacked, what could their weakness et al..   The ageing is too apparent on the slip cordon as well. Not that we had great fielders – Indians lack the physique and attitude – anyway we place huge premium on skill that most places are taken for granted that they don’t try to save runs leave alone being athletic.

Zaheer seemingly is taking care of his body so much that he does not want to stretch and Tendulkar is also seen wearing many bands and strips across fingers and the fear of hurt is taking over.  The normally reliable Dravid is dropping catches and seemingly has lost his reflex and it was a poor strategy to have Virat Kohli manning slips and then dropping a catch.  Bowlers only get heart-break when you see such shoddy catching !

A highly paid foreign coach in tune with Indian administrator’s policy.  Duncan Andrew Gwynne Fletcher previously captained Zimbabwe and coached England and took over reins in Apr 2011, with a two-year contract.  Fletcher bagged the top job in the India national cricket team ahead of names like former New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming and former Zimbabwe skipper Andy Flower, reportedly recommended by the outgoing coach Gary Kirsten.

When India won the World Cup in 2011, the coach was showered appreciations and with monetary gifts, hailed as the architect behind the good show.  Now after Fletcher has taken over – we have straight seven losses abroad – why not blame him for his poor acumen and wrong strategy ?    Not only are we losing – the losses are becoming more embarrassing one over the other. By the end of the 2nd day, the outcome of Perth Test was all written over.    At England, he should have been at home, knowing the conditions as also the English players so well – Indians fumbled and Duncan Fletcher attributed the flop-show to the uncommon assistance to seam and swing afforded by the wickets.  It is pretty difficult for the batters to adapt when the ball seams and swings much – he said.  Virender Sehwag returned to the squad there after a couple of matches and bagged a golden duck.  But when England batted, there was no such precocious swing as was made out !  - their success was more because they knitted well as a unit and had good back up.    Fletcher also  conceded that his team was tired but said they still are motivated to do well in Tests.

So what was the strategy planned at the start of this Series other than expecting that Sehwag would explode and then Indians would do well.  The inadequacies and lack of foot work to swing and seam were exposed in England and now the ageing batting line up is battling against some accurate fast bowing on pitches which have played true.  On a day when Indians were doomed to disaster, David Warner flashed his bat around and swat some of the bowlers out of the contention with disdain.   The team’s total reads :  169, 191, 161 and 171.   Of the  seven consecutive defeats, four are  by an innings.

So what are the job requirements for such a high profile, highly paid job of a Coach ?  on what basis was the recommendations of Gary Kirsten taken ?  To be brutally honest, even against the lowly West Indians, our batting did not prosper as freely.  If and when Laxman plays at Adelaide, it would more to our mentality of enabling smooth retirement than any planning on the game.  Virat Kohli’s knock would be hailed as spirited one but he and Gambhir have to do something to justify their place in the squad.   It may be that the replacements – a Rohit Sharma or Ajinkya Rahane may not prosper – but they would not have their places cemented if they were to fail in 4 consecutive innings, if Indians happen to lose two test.  People need to be told that they are not indispensable and their place cannot be taken for granted.. the message has to be bold and strongly delivered.  When will that happen and when will Coach do something to turn around ? 
Hiding behind is another – a bowling coach Eric Simmons.  Umesh Yadav perhaps has bowled at wrong ends. Ishant bowled faster but with no direction,  and how Vinay Kumar qualified for the Squad and more in the playing 11 is a big Q..  Zaheer seems to be more careful about his body and not stretching though he has been among wickets. 

After two big losses, the same batting line up, a change in dropping Ashwin for Vinay – no guidance, no strategy, no planning, no approach but only exhibition of panic – for a match getting over in 3 days, do we need this much of administrators and highly paid Coaches.    It is not simply that our batting line-up is ageing, so too is our coach.  If Gary Kirsten was credited with smart ideas, then by the same yard stick, there appears nothing flowing from Duncan.  As one would remember, his appointment did not go well with the two Seniors in Indian cricket – Sunil Manohar Gavaskar and Kapil Dev Nikhanj.   Paaji was angry that VEnkatesh Prasad and Robin Singh were snubbed while Gavaskar batted for Mohinder !

Yes – Success has many fathers, but there has to be one at least for failure too……….

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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