Cricket in India has always had more advisors than it needed. There are but a select few whose views come out of true experience and expertise and former cricketers have always helped the team out with their advice. They act as an anchor to the cricket structure. But now the anchor isn’t sure where it should be grounded.
It seems that the former players have resolved to disagree with each other come what may and most of them were members of the 1983 World Cup team. They are also undecided on the future of Dhoni and Fletcher.
Scrutinising the fall of India post 2011 World Cup win, even the great captain Mike Brearley might not have been able to help. Barring very few, players were either complacent or lacked technique. Age was showing on the stalwarts, their reflexes slackening. The youngsters are too intoxicated with T20 cricket.
Is it the job of the coach of the Indian team to teach basics? He is supposed to build an approach towards batsmanship or effective bowling.
Duncan Fletcher did it admirably for England in a way that Michael Atherton, Michael Vaughan and Nasser Hussain can’t stop singing his praises.
The accusation against Fletcher is that he isn’t watching domestic cricket. How do we know it is he who is averse to it? Does the BCCI act like it wants him to watch? Is it in his contract that he should watch domestic cricket?
As the coach of England he had absolute powers and would pick up the phone and instruct the Chairman of the county to rest the players that he chose. Here in India he gets to only meet the national selectors.
For England, he adopted a strategy in co-ordination with the ECB Academy Director and coaches.
He and his assistant coach Andy Flower would meticulously plan their requirements helping players to implement strategy in matches.
Ever since the former Director of NCA Sandeep Patil was appointed Chairman of the national selection committee four months back, the post has been vacant despite the availability of Bangalore based Brijesh Patel who organised cricket operation systematically since the inception of NCA for five years.
During his time there was a bowling wing and Bedi and Prasanna held master classes. Chandu Borde - G.R.Vishwanath - Mohinder Amarnath - Dilip Vengsarkar guided batsmen in the NCA and zonal academies. Patel’s logic was that those who have made it big at the international level are the ones who can instruct the teenagers better.
The problem is excessive coaching. If a teenager is made to go through personal, school, college, state, specialised skills academy of BCCI and NCA coaching, which of these is he expected to follow? Most of the players have confessed that the technical views expressed by these coaches are often not uniform. This is the root cause of Indian cricket’s sudden slide.
The problem is not with the eleven men playing on the field, it is with the base. Restructuring the coaching operations should be considered. When we have the NCA, why the separate pace, spin and batting academies?
The preamble of NCA as spelt out by Rodney Marsh during the inauguration was that ‘it will spot talent, nurture and suitably develop players to be ready for international cricket’. Sadly, NCA has become a rehabilitation centre.
It’s fashionable to blame Dhoni and Fletcher, but what are they supposed to do? Two people can’t rectify the rickety foundation that our system is based on. Till the BCCI takes the trouble to do more than just ignoring the present condition, the real problems will just stay hidden.