Fletcher aloof as team divided

Either the coach should explain Indian team’s downfall of late or the Board should sack him and find an experienced alternative.

New Delhi: The calls for his dismissal have been growing among the Indian cricket fraternity, and yet, Duncan Fletcher doesn’t look like anything is affecting him too much.

This unflappable temperament would be appreciated if the results were going in his wards’ favour, but with India sinking further and further with each passing match, it just comes across as indifference from a man who takes home a reported $250,000 (Rs 1.37 crore) per year plus perks.

On Friday, a day after India succumbed to a humiliating series defeat against Pakistan at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, the Indian dressing room was a disjointed place, and that neither the coach nor captain MS Dhoni were giving the team any direction.

MAIL TODAY understands that there was no team talk after the massive 85-run defeat, and neither were the team members given any dressing down for the consistent failures across all formats, surfaces and oppositions.

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Instead, Dhoni had hinted at the post-match press conference that the side would take it easy, saying emotions were high so the team “should” stay calm. Moreover, it is learnt that more than half the team doesn’t even talk to Fletcher, let alone get him involved in solving problems in their techniques or strategising.

The record speaks for itself — ever since Fletcher took over as coach after the victorious 2011 World Cup campaign under Gary Kirsten, India have won just six of 20 Tests, 21 of 38 ODIs and nine of 17 T20 Internationals.

While in Tests, it would be unfair to compare it to Kirsten’s period, when Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman were still active and in form, Fletcher’s record in ODIs, with virtually the same core of players, just shows how far Indian cricket has fallen. With the South African at the helm, India had won 62 of 101 ODIs.

Fletcher came heavily recommended by Kirsten himself, and with a track record of turning a weak England team into an Ashes winner in 2005. The former Zimbabwe captain and all-rounder was known to be a coach who could sort out a batsman’s technical flaws in just a few sessions.

But now, Gautam Gambhir keeps inside-edging on to his stumps, Virender Sehwag keeps perishing to incoming deliveries, Rohit Sharma can barely score a run and Yuvraj Singh seems to be struggling against both pace and spin at the start of his innings, Fletcher can’t seem to do a thing about it.

Then there is the strategy, for which the captain should be held more accountable than the coach, but as a lot of former players have said, it is the coach’s job to brainstorm with the captain and guide him where he thinks a decision could be detrimental to the team’s cause.

At present, members of the Indian team seem to be so directionless that there is no team cause. They seem to be pulling in different directions and cancelling out each other’s efforts.

There’s no doubt that the Indian team needs a complete reboot. And it has to begin by asking Fletcher to step out from behind the omnipresent dark glasses and explain himself, or to simply hold him responsible for the results and sack.

Secondly, the Board of Control for Cricket in India must appoint a successor to Fletcher very smartly, and someone with a lot of international experience and universal respect (like Kirsten had) should get the first preference.

This would help the team galvanise itself, like it did in the build-up to the World Cup and the preceding years, and stop being a collection of mutually exclusive superstars.

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