Dilip Vengsarkar: Sack Fletcher immediately

Calcutta: Former India captain and chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar spoke to The Telegraph at the Eden on Thursday afternoon. He was, at times, fuming.

The following are excerpts

Q You made Mahendra Singh Dhoni the T20 and ODI captain and put him in line to succeed Anil Kumble at the helm in Test cricket (in November 2008)... How do you view calls to sack him?

A I'm disappointed... At the moment, Dhoni is still the best bet, so stop gunning for him. Quite a few of our new-ball bowlers are unfit... It's a very mediocre attack... Can you, then, blame the captain? What can he alone do?

So, Sandeep Patil and his colleagues should retain Dhoni?

There's no question about it.

But India lost eight Tests in a row overseas, with Dhoni captaining in seven of them... Last month, we also lost to England at home...

I accept that, which is why there has been criticism... Constructive criticism has to be respected. But can you blame Dhoni only?

Nobody has been groomed to take over the captaincy. Isn't that something to worry about?

One hundred per cent... In the past four-five years, we've had three vice-captains in the different formats... Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli. That's not the way to go about it. One player should have been identified as a potential captain and made Dhoni's deputy.

Are you in favour of splitting the captaincy, possibly getting Virat to lead in the T20s?

No... Dhoni makes the XI in all three formats, so why should he not captain across the board? I wouldn't like a situation where Dhoni plays under Virat in T20s and, then, Virat plays under Dhoni in Tests and ODIs.

So, who should be the vice-captain in all three formats?

Virat... Make him the No.2. He's got attitude, he's aggressive... He's a good batsman and a good fielder... Besides, Virat has a thinking mind. He has the qualities to lead India.

Given everything that's going around, what would you tell Dhoni?

Stay focused and try and win matches... I'm happy that Dhoni is back in form... He played a superb innings in the last Test (Nagpur) and produced a great hundred in the last ODI (Chennai).

[At the Eden, in another losing cause, Dhoni played a lone hand - an unbeaten 54.]

It's strange that coach Duncan Fletcher has escaped criticism. What's your take?

Fletcher should be sacked immediately... I don't know what his role is, I can't understand why he doesn't watch domestic cricket... He's been there for over a year-and-a-half, but it's time for him to go... I don't know who is our bowling coach... Don't know what he has been doing for the past 10 months.

Joe Dawes is the bowling coach...

Never heard of him.

Sourav Ganguly feels it's time to have a desi coach. Do you share that view?

We should get the best man, irrespective of nationality. But, yes, it will be an advantage if Fletcher's successor is an Indian... Being familiar with our culture, he'll be able to understand the players better, will know their psyche better.

Do you have anybody in mind?

Ideally, the coach should be a former captain, for he'll then be familiar with man management... You can't follow the same yardstick for everybody.

Are you happy with our bench strength?

No... We need more players of quality, players who'll push the regulars hard... Complacency can set in if the regulars feel that they won't be pushed for places. If there are players who've been performing for India A and at the U-19 level, then they should be given opportunities, specifically in the 50-over game.

You gifted a bat to Sachin Tendulkar when he began playing for Mumbai (in 1988-89), so there's a connection which goes back many years... Should he have retired from ODIs almost on the eve of such an important series?

When Sachin's going to play Test cricket, then he should have played ODIs too... Playing only 8-10 Tests in a year is going to be difficult for him... Also, he could have used the ODIs against Pakistan to prepare for the Tests versus Australia.

Till when do you think Sachin will play Test cricket?

Don't know... Sachin could take a call after the four matches against Australia (in February-March). If he gets runs, he may continue... It's difficult for you or I to say anything definitely... Much will depend on Sachin's level of motivation, if he's as passionate... Factors do come into play.

What's the way forward for Indian cricket?

If the likes of Rahul Dravid, Kumble and Sourav have the time, then they should be appointed mentors to the India A and the U-19 teams... I'd like them to travel with those teams overseas... Secondly, something has to be done about the wickets on offer for domestic cricket... Right now, the wickets are a joke... Thirdly, revive the National Cricket Academy (in Bangalore)... At this point in time, it's nothing more than a rehab centre for injured players... Surely, that's not its role. The Academy should actually be producing cricketers.

The other day, Wasim Bari told me that he was disappointed you didn't win the Mumbai Cricket Association president's election in 2011. Do you intend having another go?

Yes... I'll be a candidate in this year's election.

Finally... What's the No.1 lesson you learnt when you lost to Union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who is no more...

(Grins) That politicians may not know anything about cricket, but they definitely know how to win elections! They unleash a killer weapon two days before the polls and that does it for them.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

IPL 7, GAME 10—Chennai beat Rajasthan by 7 runs after last-over scare. More »

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

... because, as recent events reveal, the BCCI has little intention of doing it. More »

Hope to be fit for next game - Kevin Pietersen

Hope to be fit for next game - Kevin Pietersen

With two heavy defeats at the hands of Bangalore and Chennai, Daredevils currently languish near the bottom of the table. More »

Chandimal axed as T20 captain, Malinga takes over

Chandimal axed as T20 captain, Malinga takes over

Sri Lanka's cricket selectors on Wednesday sacked Dinesh Chandimal as Twenty20 captain and replaced him with Lasith Malinga, while Angelo Mathews was… More »

'A blow to BCCI, could hurt autonomous status'

'A blow to BCCI, could hurt autonomous status'

The Supreme Court prefers that the Justice Mudgal panel further investigate the IPL corruption scandal. More »

Have the ECB played an unfair game?

Have the ECB played an unfair game?

Money talks, but it is in light of this ICC shakeup that the ECB's act of soliciting of another team's coach deteriorates from free-market aggression to… More »

Perfect Punjab trounce Hyderabad

Perfect Punjab trounce Hyderabad

IPL7, GAME 9—Maxwell (95, 43b), Balaji (4-13) set up 72-run win. More »

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

The Mukul Mudgal probe committee dropped a bombshell in the Supreme Court on Tuesday by making a sensational claim that it was forced to stop audio recording… More »

Farbrace quits for England post

Farbrace quits for England post

He will assist Peter Moores who was unveiled as the new England coach on Saturday. More »

Moin appointed to manage Pakistan team

Moin appointed to manage Pakistan team

Pakistan on Monday reappointed Moin Khan as chief selector and manager of the national team, a week after fellow former captain Rashid Latif turned down… More »

Chennai smash Delhi for first win

Chennai smash Delhi for first win

IPL7, MATCH 8—Raina-led middle order, superlative catching give CSK a 93-run win. More »

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

Mukul Mudgal has communicated to the court his willingness to take up the investigation and has been asked to specify the terms and modalities on April… More »

'BCCI reputation lowest in 80 years'

'BCCI reputation lowest in 80 years'

The former BCCI president says he was "disillusioned" by the happenings at the emergent working committee meeting on Sunday. More »

Injured Bravo to miss rest of IPL

Injured Bravo to miss rest of IPL

Dwayne Bravo is set to be sidelined for at least four weeks due to a shoulder problem. Bravo sustained the injury when attempting a catch on the boundary… More »

NZC contemplates domestic revamp

NZC contemplates domestic revamp

New Zealand Cricket has put forward a proposal to reinvent its domestic structure and allow up to 49% private investment into the six major associatio… More »

Punjab pull off another big chase

Punjab pull off another big chase

GAME 7, SHARJAH—Maxwell, Miller, Pujara chase down Rajasthan's 192. More »

T20 test for Cheteshwar Pujara

T20 test for Cheteshwar Pujara

The class act from Saurashtra may have to rethink his approach to the mannerless format. More »

Special meeting to replace Srinivasan

Special meeting to replace Srinivasan

The BCCI is likely to convene a special general body meeting (SGM) in May to replace N Srinivasan on the board's disciplinary committee. More »

Roach escapes injury after car crash

Roach escapes injury after car crash

The West Indies fast bowler lost control of his BMW sedan due to slippery road conditions in his native Barbados on Saturday. More »

Shastri in proposed IPL probe panel

Shastri in proposed IPL probe panel

Some members stressed on the need for proposing names with an "impeccable record and clean image". More »

Day of Supreme reckoning

Day of Supreme reckoning

Apex court to decide on BCCI’s proposed new committee today. More »

Panel can help clean mess: Raghavan

Panel can help clean mess: Raghavan

The former CBI Director is one of the three candidates proposed by the BCCI to head the enquiry into the IPL betting and spot-fixing scandal. More »

Repose faith in Indian coaches

Repose faith in Indian coaches

All of them cost plenty of dollars which I feel is unnecessary for a two- month tournament, says former cricketer Yajurvindra Singh. More »

Cook relieved after period in limbo

Cook relieved after period in limbo

The England captain is looking forward to a fresh start after a dispiriting Ashes defeat last year. More »