Indian cricket continued its link with foreign coaches by appointing Duncan Fletcher, former Zimbabwe captain, as replacement for South African Gary Kirsten.
Former Australian captain Greg Chappell and ex-New Zealand captain John Wright were the earlier foreign coaches associated with Team India.
Fletcher was chosen for a two-year stint by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) at a working committee meeting on Wednesday. The BCCI extended the contract of South African Eric Simmons, part of the support staff under Kirsten, as bowling coach.
The BCCI media release stated: “Mr. Duncan Fletcher has been appointed coach of the Indian cricket team for a period of two years. Mr. Eric Simmons will continue as bowling coach.”
Fletcher had coached Kirsten at University of Cape Town and Western Province, besides coaching Simmons at Western Province. The change of guard in Indian cricket can be viewed as an extension of the process established by Kirsten with his intuitive, behind-the-scenes style of coaching.
Simmons was part of the South Africa coaching staff before accepting the India bowling coach offer under Kirsten.
Fletcher earned coaching honours with the England team as its first foreign coach (1999 to 2007). After stepping down from the England job in 2007, his reputation as a batting coach and acumen in man management got him assignments with the South African national squad where he was consultant to head coach Mickey Arthur in 2008. He was also the New Zealand national team's coaching consultant in 2011.
He is the fourth foreigner to be given charge of Team India. John Wright was the first foreign professional to accept the high-pressure, high stakes coaching job and worked with captain Sourav Ganguly to mould India into a combative bunch from 2000 to 2005.
Greg Chappell's two-year assignment ended on a negative note after India's first round exit at the 2007 World Cup. He was hand-picked after interviews with candidates, among whom were Tom Moody and Mohinder Amarnath.
Wright's low profile work in the background contrasted with Chappell's forthright work methods. India did not have a full-time coach after 2007 and relied on the experience of ex-Test stalwarts Chandu Borde and Ravi Shastri as managers for tours to England / Ireland and Bangladesh respectively. The hunt for a full-time coach ended with Kirsten taking over in 2008 till the 2011 WC triumph.
Fletcher is in charge with India listed No. 1 in the Test rankings and second in the ODI rankings behind Australia.
As World champion in one-day cricket, India is slated to tour West Indies from June 4 to July 10 for a series involving one T20, five ODIs and three Test matches. England is the next stop for M.S. Dhoni and his teammates from July 21-September 16.
At this juncture, it is unclear if Fletcher's first ever coaching assignment with Team India will commence in West Indies in June or England in July.