A main coach has to get things done through his specialist, writes Makarand Waingankar
Indian cricket is going through a tricky phase, remarked Rahul Dravid. As captain of the team, he is in a position to read the body language of his players, and his interactions with the President and the office-bearers of the BCCI before the Working Committee meeting must have given him enough indications about the future of Indian cricket.
Everyone connected with Indian cricket feels its future lies in the hands of a coach, and so the search is on. The committee of seven wise men, out of which four are administrators and three former India captains, will decide on the coach who will replace cricket manager Ravi Shastri.
Shastri apparently put his hand up to save Indian cricket, but if his intentions were to be available only for the Bangladesh tour, what super plans he had in mind to save Indian cricket on a short tour of Bangladesh only he can tell.
The move to appoint Venkatesh Prasad as bowling coach and Robin Singh as fielding coach has been appreciated, but there is definitely a need to have a main coach. In a team game, no matter how many specialist coaches are appointed, if their cricketing thought process and strategy don't match the thinking of a main coach, failure is guaranteed.
Unlike other team games, cricket requires time, effort and thought, and the more time a player spends in the middle or off the field during the game, he is constantly thinking. He needs solutions. The BCCI's advisory committee which appointed Venkatesh Prasad and Robin Singh may go in for a batting coach as well as a cricketer of repute and integrity to be the main coach.
This may work, provided all the coaches agree to stick to their brief. The moment each specialist coach assumes the role of a main coach, the team will go out in the middle not knowing what to do. A main coach has to be responsible for getting things done through his specialist coaches so that he can concentrate on strategy management.
Then there are two categories of coaches. Strategy coach and technique coach. At the international level, apart from technical problems, what a player faces is a lack of confidence and that affects his game. Here only an experienced performer, having gone through such situations will be able to read the mind of a confused player and suggest corrective methods.
As a batting consultant to NCA, Gundappa Vishwanath's approach was to fine-tune technique with a reason that would convince a batsman to score runs. Here is a man of stature, integrity and known to handle situations against all types of attack on different surfaces.
Having gone through problem situations successfully first as a player and then specialist coach, he is in a position to guide a batsman. His solutions are simple but very effective. Vishwanath could be the answer to our batting problems. But the real problem will be to find a replacement for Greg Chappell.
There may be a move to get Venkatraghavan as cricket manager. A thinking player, a former India captain who didn't get upset and lose focus when Prasanna was the first choice, a good international umpire who watched all the strategies employed in the middle and has managed the Indian team before, Venkatraghavan could be the choice for the post of a cricket manager.
The think-tank will have a solid base with inputs from the seniors in the Indian team, but these coaches will have to get the juniors to perform consistently if at all we are to do well. No senior will be fit enough to go through the tight schedule of next season and the juniors will have to be prepared to handle situations.