Calcutta/New Delhi: Since the departure of Gary Kirsten and the advent of Duncan Fletcher, Team India have achieved very little. Pundits have their views, but Rahul Dravid has explained the probable reasons for the downslide in pretty simple terms.
The former India captain believes that in the last three-four years, the role of coach in team selection has diminished and felt that watching domestic matches should be a must for the coach of the Indian team.
“I remember John Wright or Greg Chappell consistently attending selection committee meetings, watching domestic matches... I think over the last three-four years, we’ve seen that coaches have taken a slightly more detached, or a slightly more backward role to our selections... I don’t think Gary watched a lot of domestic cricket... Duncan has not really done that as well,” Dravid was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
However, it must be added that Gary produced the results — winning the World Cup and reaching the No.1 position in Tests — but Fletcher’s kitty is empty.
According to the icon, giving more power to Fletcher and making him accountable may solve some of the problems. “You want to give people powers and you want to hold them accountable, especially when you have senior, knowledgeable people like Duncan. I think his reputation is on the line as well. I think, knowing someone like him, he would want to get more involved and have a say in where his own career and his own reputation is headed,” he said.
But what about the gap created in the Indian middle-order, following Dravid’s and VVS Laxman’s retirements? Fletcher is the right person to find the replacements, Dravid said. “He’s seen a lot of players... Who’s a better middle-order player among Manoj Tiwary, Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay… At least, to have an opinion, have an informed opinion by actually coming and watching some games.
“The fact that he didn’t come and didn’t attend the selection committee meeting tells you that may be that’s not in his scope of work, he doesn’t have those powers,” he said, once again reminding that watching domestic matches should be of prime importance to the coach.
[The Telegraph had in fact highlighted that Fletcher had been on vacation instead of attending the selection committee meeting on November 5, and had asked if his vacation was well-earned.]
Dravid said Fletcher has a lot to offer to Indian cricket and said the Zimbabwean should be given more powers in team selection. “Duncan has a lot of strength as a coach… He connects well with a lot of players and works quite well with them. But, in some ways, the scope or power that he has to make decisions or to make selections has been a little limited.”
“Some of these people (coaches) do have the maturity to be able to understand that when players come to them with a problem, they don’t necessarily use that as a way to drop someone…
“But also the coach sees players from such close quarters that he understands them. So I think he (Duncan) must have a say (in selection),” Dravid added.
India’s twin Test debacles in England and Australia prompted Fletcher to put greater emphasis on fitness.
“After the loss, Duncan has put a lot of emphasis on the fitness and discipline of the players, and knowing and talking to maybe some of them… Over the last few months, there has been a little bit more focus on fitness and discipline and the basics in skill levels of some players… Hopefully, we’ll see some of that in this Test series.”