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Updated: March 22, 2013 01:55 IST

Fletcher should be given more powers

Makarand Waingankar
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Makarand Waingankar.
The Hindu
Makarand Waingankar.

Appoint a foreign coach and former Indian international cricketers protest, “Why not an Indian?”, “Are we not good enough?”, “Why always a foreigner?” After years of this drama repeating itself, it has now painfully been accepted by these cricketers that the Board of Control for Cricket in India is not keen to have their services.

Till the late 90s, the trend in international cricket was to appoint former cricketers as coaches. No one really knows the reason behind the change in the trend when foreign coaches were asked to take charge of the teams. The approach of the teams became more positive and hidden agendas were crushed, except perhaps in Pakistan.

The general perception is that the Indian coaches who are former Test players aren’t updated on the trends in international cricket even though information is available. In the 90s, the Indian team wasn’t happy with any of the Indian coaches as there was nothing special that they presented to the team.

It was at the behest of ‘senior players’ that the BCCI thought of appointing a foreign coach. Are we to believe that the BCCI hasn’t been consulting the captain and senior players in the Indian team for the past decade? Wasn’t John Wright appointed after recommendation from Rahul Dravid who played for Kent coached by Wright? In fact Wright was the first foreign coach of India.

Even with the plethora of Indian coaches we have, their knowledge of technicalities and man-management at international level have always been questionable and that led the BCCI to explore the possibility of appointing foreign coaches. Apart from Greg Chappell, John Wright and Gary Kirsten have done excellent jobs.

Change of approach

Duncan Fletcher has been credited with change of approach that transformed English cricket. His work ethics and technical inputs have not only been praised by the likes of former England captain Michael Vaughan and Nasser Hussain, but the former England Test cricketers- turned-professional journalists.

What has made the difference in Fletcher’s efficiency after coming to India is perhaps the difference in the power that BCCI entrusted him with. There are rants of Fletcher not been watching domestic cricket. The question is whether he has been asked to do so.

In England, Fletcher had the power to pick up the phone and speak to the boss of the county that so and so fast bowler is needed for England and he should be either rested for a couple of games or shouldn’t be asked to bowl more. In India he doesn’t have the power to speak to a state selector!

In fact compared to a county cricketer who on an average plays 35 matches in six months, an Indian player doesn’t play more that 15 first class matches. Fletcher had control over the fitness status of his main players and coordinated with ECB’s High Performance coaches. In India he has no clue about the player’s workload.

The problem Fletcher faces is that he has to put up with international medium pacers bowling long spells in domestic cricket on placid tracks. International coaches are expected to plan for the season. How do you expect them plan when majority of key bowlers are in rehabilitation centre.

For an important series against South Africa, he will have to have five top quality fit medium pacers and for that to happen Fletcher, Dhoni and the selectors will have to identify 10 now and get them fit.

If at all Fletcher has to be effective, he should be given more powers. We can’t expect him to function effectively with injured players. We need Fletcher till next World Cup.

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