Embattled Indian cricket team coach Duncan Fletcher met BCCI president N. Srinivasan here on Friday. Interestingly, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men are already in Bangladesh ahead of the ICC World T20.
Although BCCI sources described the meeting as a courtesy call — Mr. Srinivasan is recovering from an eye surgery — the circumstances surrounding Fletcher’s journey here tell a different story.
With the Indian team consistently failing to deliver away from home, the 65-year-old Fletcher is under fire from several quarters. And his contract comes up for renewal at the end of the tournament in Bangladesh.
The indications are that Fletcher was summoned here since the BCCI wanted to send a strong message to the coach. The Board is seeking answers to India’s rather dismal showing abroad.
With the ICC ODI World Cup in Australia and New Zealand beginning in February next year, it is unlikely that the BCCI would remove Fletcher in April. It could be hard for a new coach to first gel and then turn around the fortunes of the Indian team in the limited period.
India was No. 1 in Tests when Fletcher took charge. Now, it is No. 3 in the ICC rankings. And the side has slipped to the second spot in ODIs.
While Fletcher’s technical inputs to the young batsmen have been appreciated, his ability to strategise and motivate the team is under the scanner.
The taciturn Fletcher’s lack of communication with the media has not helped matters either.
It was quite astonishing that Fletcher did not address a single press conference on India’s tour of New Zealand. By not giving him more leeway to air his line of thinking, the Board has not helped matters either.
As India coach, Fletcher has largely disappointed. He has been seen to be too soft on the cricketers. There is this feeling that he does not crack the whip even when there is a pressing need to do so. And India, tactically, has been too defensive.
Now Fletcher faces a difficult road ahead. The visit to Chennai is proof of that.