Coach needs ruthless streak


Cricket  is a religion in India and the players are demi- gods for their fans. So it isn’t surprising that when the team does well, the players are worshipped and when the going is bad, they earn the wrath of those very fans.

Over the last few months, things have gone from bad to worse as far as the fortunes of the Indian team are concerned.

Agreed, the captain is the leader of the pack and must take the credit when the team does well and the brickbats when things aren’t going his way. But something that has really disappointed me is the performance of coach Duncan Fletcher.

Honestly, I feel an Indian should be passed the baton after Fletcher’s tenure is over. But I doubt if the BCCI will wait for his two- year term to get over.

Nobody can understand the psyche of an Indian the way another Indian can. And also, I think we have had great players over the years who can fit the bill perfectly.

I am sure Indian cricket didn’t reach the heights it did in the last 10- 15 years only due to foreign coaches. How about asking someone like Sourav Ganguly to take over? I know a few people might think that Ganguly would be too blunt and that could rub the egos of some of the star players the wrong way. But that is exactly how things need to be done. You can’t have the cake and eat it too. Either you want someone who will grab things by the collar and get them back in order, or someone who will merely wear the India coach’s jersey for the heck of it.

Another thing that would happen with an Indian coach is that he would be well- versed with the domestic structure. So it would be easier for him to help the selectors. It wouldn’t require the selectors to ask MS Dhoni to provide a blueprint for the 2015 World Cup. They could easily get an idea from the coach himself.

And last but not the least, you need someone who can stand in front of the captain and make his opinion known. At times, he could even be ruthless with his decision- making, something I have seen in Ganguly. Then again, I am not sure if Ganguly has the time or interest in taking up the job.

Fletcher was appointed as coach in April 2011 with a lot of fanfare as he had changed the fortunes of the England team during his long reign. But my worst fear has come true over the last year when the repeated failures have shown he isn’t really the man for the job.

Having been a coach of the Indian team myself, what I realised was that you need to be a good man manager and someone who will have to keep giving the big stars a reality check.

To be honest, I wish I had been a better man manager back then, but coming to the present situation, Fletcher has been a complete failure and the results are there for everyone to see.

Yes, you do need to stay in the background as India coach, but not be a puppet. One has to be honest and clear as to what he wants. In certain cases, I would even tell my captain that I didn’t want a player in the XI as he didn’t deserve a place on merit.

Also, you have got to know about the grassroot level and the structure that is in place. Has Fletcher had the time to learn up and follow Indian domestic cricket? No.

There is definitely is a gap between him and the selectors when it comes to communication.

I clearly remember spotting Yuvraj Singh in a match in Chennai where he had managed just 42 runs. But the moment I saw him, I knew that this guy had immense talent and deserved a fair chance. How many players has Fletcher referred to the selectors or vice versa? Until and unless we have a sterner coach, Indian cricket will find it very difficult to bring things back on track.