Extension sans discussion

Calcutta: Believe it or not, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has extended coach Duncan Fletcher's contract by a year without any discussion.

Not just that, The Telegraph learns that the future of Fletcher, who has captained Zimbabwe and coached England, wasn't on the agenda of Friday's working committee meeting in Mumbai!

According to well-placed sources, instead of seeking the views of those present, BCCI president Narayanswamy Srinivasan announced that Fletcher's (nearly two-year) contract would end on March 31 and was being extended by a year.

No discussion, no clarification. Nothing about accountability when Srinivasan brought up the extension as a "miscellaneous item."

It's not the first time that a working committee meeting has rubber-stamped something decided upon probably by the president alone. It won't be the last either.

Among those present were two former India players, Shivlal Yadav and Javagal Srinath. The former is a BCCI vice-president, while the latter represented Karnataka.

If not anybody else, at least Yadav or Srinath should have talked cricket. But, perhaps, they were under some compulsion.

India look set to win the ongoing Test series against Australia, but there have been disasters in plenty during Fletcher's 21 months.

Massive defeats in England and in Australia, failure to make the final of the Asia Cup as also the semi-final of the World T20... Worse, we lost to England in the recent Test series at home.

It's a poor record. No wonder the iconic Sunil Gavaskar feels that the 64-year-old has been lucky.

Not for the first time, mind you.

Earlier in the season, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, being so visible, kept getting the stick. Except when former captain and chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar called for Fletcher to be sacked immediately, the heat had all been on Dhoni.

As Fletcher has been muzzled by the BCCI, one doesn't know his side of the story on any matter, though.

If a senior India player, who has worked with both Fletcher and his highly successful predecessor Gary Kirsten, is to be believed, then the former is "strong on technical issues."

The player, however, kept mum on Fletcher's man management and his ability to communicate well. Coaches today need a very high degree of proficiency in both areas.

Given the mood among the powers-that-be, it won't surprise if Fletcher gets another extension, a year from now. Even if the team doesn't do well.

The 2015 World Cup won't then be far off and that would be a convenient 'excuse'.


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