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Monday, October 22, 2012

Coaching is a tough job - tale of Jaspal Rana and Duncan Fletcher

India relatively was a late entrant to One dayers – they played their first One day International against England in 1974 and in the inaugural World Cup in 1975, were palpably out of place with Sunil Gavaskar crawling to an unbeaten 36 in 60 overs !!! – the victory of Prudential World Cup in 1983 by Kapil Devils changed the way, India was looked at and the way Indians looked at the game.  India were late to join the list of Nation in T20 too – the win in 2007 T20 World Cup and the subsequent Indian Premier League has changed the way the game is played !!!!

Mothers no longer want their son to become Sachin Tendulkar playing for the Nation – you can be a Naman Ojha, Swapnil Asnodkar, Unmukht Chand, Valthaty, Manish Pandey, Bisla, Debabrata Das- or somebody not so well known, not so likely to play for the Nation – but still make lot of money playing the game.  Is that good or bad …… one really knows…

More importantly, you need not be a player – or be a small time player – still make loads of money by associating yourself with a Club team in a big way. Dinamalar, a local tamil magazine had a newsitem comparing the salaries of two people – a great performer in a not so famous sport and a man who is associated with all the pitfalls of a great sport…… can you imagine what it could be ?

Shooting is an interesting sport and in the recent London Olympics, 11 Indian  shooters qualified -  Seven male and four female.   Vijay Kumar did the Nation proud by winning Silver and Gagan Narang silver.  In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Abhinav Singh Bindra became the first Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympic Games.  Earlier, at Athens in 2004, Colonel Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won Silver.   Thus making the Sports more popular and widely followed in India.

Jaspal Rana is another star. He contested mainly in the 25 m Centre Fire Pistol category. He was a gold medallist at the 1994 Asian Games,1998 Commonwealth Games - Men's Center Fire Pistol, Men's Center Fire Pistol Pairs,  2002 Commonwealth Games - Men's 25m Center Fire Pistol, 2006 Commonwealth Games - Men's 25m Center Fire Pistol Pairs, and 2006 Asian Games.  Recently, Jaspal Rana was appointed chief coach for junior pistol shooters by the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI). According to NRAI advisor Baljeet Singh Sethi, Rana will be entitled to get a monthly salary of INR 50,000, with the other coaches getting INR 30,000.  Sethi was quoted as saying that "We are confident that Jaspal, with his experience, can help the junior shooters to take the next step. He has a great track record and should come in handy."  Rana is excited at the prospect of getting to guide the young shooters and expressed confidence when asked how challenging it would be to live up to NRAI and his own expectations.

Away in South Africa, the IPL Teams are not doing well and only DD is in contention for the Semi berth.  In the recently concluded T2o World Cup at Sri Lanka, the National team crashed out.  Top players like Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Zahir Khan  repeatedly failed while Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been faulted for captaincy lapses. Also the crushing defeat against Australia was considered inexplicable for the way they lost by a big margin which the team could never overcome in their subsequent matches. There apparently was no strategy and no logic in persisting with failing players like Rohit Sharma and the move to give him a bowl when India had to contain South Africa within 121 was most baffling.  

Gone are the days, when Cricket team was managed by a single official called manager – now you have host of people offering specialized strategy in every Department with Coach at the helm and the man – present coach is a former Zimbabwean Cricketer -  Duncan Andrew Gwynne Fletcher.  Fletcher was Zimbabwe's first-ever One Day International captain, leading them to their famous victory at the 1983 cricket World Cup over Australia. Under Fletcher the England cricket team achieved famous series victories away to Sri Lanka, Pakistan, West Indies and South Africa between 2000-2004. His most famous and largest achievement however came in September 2005, when he became the first coach of the English team to win an Ashes series for 18 years when England secured 2-1 victory over Australia.  In recognition of this winning the Ashes after 18 years, Fletcher was conferred with the OBE. On 13 September 2005 Fletcher was awarded British citizenship after a five-year wait.

His luck ran dry after that…... Following defeat to Australia by 206 runs in the third test on 18 December 2006 which saw England relinquish the Ashes 15 months after gaining them, the England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed that Fletcher's position as head coach was under review.  In Apr 2011 when India was basking in the glory after winning the ODI World Cup for the 2nd time, Fletcher was appointed as Coach and immediately started the Team’s downfall too….  There were two ill-fated tours – England and Australia where India lost all the Test matches – 8 losses in a row.  – in the recent T20 WC, we did not move beyond the Super 8.  Fletcher still has six months left in his contract. He has the comfort of playing two tough opponents on home soil. It would work in Fletcher's favour to give the players a good, old-fashioned rocket at times and not indulge in ego-massaging.

And if you are wondering how much Fletcher is paid for doing all this mess, it is a princely Rs.34 lakhs per month – almost 2 crores for 6 months.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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