"When the coach doesn’t bat or bowl for you, how can he be sacked," asks Sanjay Manjrekar.
Sacking people is our favourite way to purge our frustrations. The coach, who is lauded with garlands after a win, becomes suspect at the time of failure. Andy Flower was adored by former England players but he had to step down after the humiliating defeat in the Ashes. Micky Arthur was sacked much before the Ashes last season.
“When the coach doesn’t bat or bowl for you, how can he be sacked,” asks Sanjay Manjrekar. Logically he is right, but the dressing room atmosphere does affect the performance of players. That’s the reason why the Mumbai coach was sacked. But then, the administrators who appoint coaches should be the ones asked to quit. They are the ones who appoint the coaches and selectors in the first place.
Both Flower and Arthur were appointed by a committee of experts after completing a stringent procedure of selection. Shouldn’t experts be responsible for the poor show of the coaches? In football, the coaches are held accountable and sacked for non-performance. If that criteria is applied to Indian cricket, Duncan Fletcher should be sacked immediately. The whole world is watching Indian bowlers’ pathetic show. Isn’t the bowling coach responsible for the terrible show?
Some players are reluctant to move out of their comfort zone because they are insecure about their capabilities. This is where the coach should come in. Most players feel that the coach must identify the commitment level of the players and their comfort zone. In highly competitive sports, the coach’s man-management skills get players to perform. Kirsten is the prime example.
Let’s be clear. No player steps on the field to fail. The difference is that some players know how to excel, and some don’t. And the coach is the one who has to guide the player.
A player rarely needs technical guidance at the first-class level. All he needs is the execution of his skills which the coach is expected to organise. The main focus is selection. The ‘wise men’ select the team and whether the coach agrees with the selections or not, he has to get the best out of them. The coach has no choice but to work on cricketers whose value to the team may be very low.
The JAK (J Arun Kumar- batting coach) and MAK (Mansur Ali Khan - bowling coach) team for Ranji champion Karnataka seemed to have worked well (since they played together, they trusted each other’s methods). It’s a tough job but when there is a rapport between coaches and the players off the field, the controlled exuberance shows on the field.
A coach has to be supportive without being authoritarian. But the Mumbai coach turned out to be the latter and had to be sacked.
Coaching is about getting things done, rather than imposing one’s theories on players. A coach has to stay in the background, being a pillar of support rather than cause of worry and fatigue. It's a difficult job yes, but cricket has had many such coaches.
The Karnataka team is showing great promise. If the unit stays together like Mumbai teams did from 60s to 90s, it will be hard to beat. There is huge potential in each of the 15 players who played for Karnataka this season. Their enthusiasm exhibited their commitment to the team. They should be groomed without putting them under pressure. In fact, they need to tour Australia to gain more experience and learn vital aspects faster. Getting more number of players in the national team should be KSCA’s goal.