New Delhi: The statistics are staggering.
In a few months, the Duncan Fletcher era of Indian cricket would have gone three years with barely anything to show for in terms of Test wins away from home.
Joe Dawes has been the bowling coach for exactly two years, and in that time, the bowlers have allowed Alastair Cook to score 294, Michael Clarke to get a 329 and Brendon McCullum to follow up a double ton with 302 in Wellington.
And through all this, the man firmly ensconced in job of India captain has been Mahendra Singh Dhoni who, even his most ardent admirers admit, is an overly ‘defensive’ skipper.
The 0-1 series defeat to the lowly-ranked New Zealand just follows the path of despondency Indian cricket has been on ever since the team was whitewashed 0-4 in England in 2011.
Questions have been raised, inquests have been promised — but the reality remains one away victory in 15 Tests under Fletcher.
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Former India all-rounder Mohinder Amarnath said: “I don't understand the use of having Fletcher if he is not delivering. Nobody is raising questions about the coach and support staff.”
While comparisons to football are akin to the old ‘apples and oranges’ adage, the question that must be asked is whether any manager in the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A or Bundesliga would be allowed such a long rope? Or even in the Indian Premier League? In an era of professionalism across the board, Fletcher, Dawes and Dhoni seem to be inexplicably unimpeachable.
Compare that with England team director Andy Flower, who resigned after one embarrassing series — the Ashes whitewash Down Under. This is a man whom the hard-to-please British media had hailed as their messiah due to sustained success.
Mickey Arthur was sacked from the Australia job just days before the Ashes series in England last year, and while it was a risk that didn’t pay off in the short-term, look what his successor Darren Lehmann has achieved. The Aussies, led by the hostile pace of Mitchell Johnson, are looking invincible again.
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At the receiving end of Johnson’s latest barrage of bouncers were the South Africans, who reached at the top of the mountain under the tutelage of Gary Kirsten. Now, with Kirsten gone and talismanic all-rounder Jacques Kallis retired, they are beginning to struggle under Russell Domingo.
It seems to be a growing trend that international players from the 1990s and 2000s are today’s best coaches, perhaps because they can connect with their wards better than older or less successful former players.
So while Dawes can’t seem to help the struggling Indian bowlers, South Africa and Australia’s bowling attacks hardly ever seem to wane — they’ve got Allan Donald and Craig McDermott respectively as bowling coaches.
With the World Cup less than a year away, there seems to be no way the BCCI is going to sack D3 — Duncan, Dawes and Dhoni.
And with the kind of performances the team has been displaying abroad, India would need a miracle to retain the crown.