The history of the Indian Cricket team and their head coach is no less than a saga of alternative fortunes. Over the years, many mentors donned the hats of the coach for the Men in Blue. While some created history, others could only make the headlines. Each coach was accounted for the changes they brought to the team, albeit, not all were welcomed.
It is amusing how the role of the head coach of team India shares such an enduring bond with controversies. Since 2000, Indian coaches have given hundreds of stories to be recounted every time their name is mentioned. Pleasant or not, these stories have played a major role in building the status of this sport in India.
The latest controversies about Anil Kumble's role as the head coach and his eventual decision to put a halt to his tenure made us turn the pages of history all over again. Here, we have rated each of the national coach of India since 2000 summarising their term with the Indian Cricket Team.
John Wright (2000-2005) – 8/10
It was the year 2000, a phase so dark for the Indian Cricket team that it engulfed all the pride and reputation that Cricket had built over the years. Disheartened fans, bruised hopes and an aggrieved mass surrounded Indian cricket, scrutinising them with suspicious eyes. Mohammad Azharuddin, the then skipper, Ajay Jadeja and Manoj Prabhakar were accused of match-fixing. Captaincy was then handed to Sourav Ganguly but the team needed a mentor who can push them to move out of this deep trough.
Amidst all these chaos, former New Zeland captain John Wright walked in to alter the fate of Cricket in India. Appointed right ahead of Zimbabwe's tour, Wright also had to man the role of the manager for the Indian team. He was the first full-time coach appointed for the national team and the rest, as they say, is history. He and Sourav Ganguly conjointly built one of the most successful teams in the history of Indian Cricket and laid the foundations for the success in the years to come.
In 2001, India hosted the historic Test series in which they defeated Australia. The team then reached the final of 2003 ICC World Cup under Wright's guidance and then went on to win both the ODI as well as the Test series against Pakistan in their own backyard a year later.
Not only did he boost the performance of the team, but also played a key role in the major comebacks of many celebrated players. He is credited for the important milestones in the career of players like Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh. Harbhajan's outstanding comeback in the 2001 series against Australia created history. He took 32 wickets in three-match Test series and led India to a series win over The Invincibles.
Wright promoted Tendulkar from the 4th position to the role of an opening batsman during the World Cup 2003. Sachin then went on to score 673 runs in the tournament. He also invested his trust in the legendary batsman when he failed to perform in the first three test during team India's Australia-tour. As a result, Tendulkar went on to construct one of his finest innings of 241 in the next Test.
Greg Chappel (2005-2007) – 5/10
Never in the history of Indian Cricket was a coach as closely associated with controversies as Greg Chappell. The former Australian captain took over the job in 2005. It is said that Sourav Ganguly, former Indian skipper played a big-wheel in the appointment of Chappell as the coach. However, it brought more disappointments than celebrations for the team. Unfortunately, most of them were rooted in the rift between Ganguly and Chappel.
Meanwhile, the personal equations between the coach and the players started to make more news that the team's performance. His leaked e-mail addressed to Ranbir Mahendra, the then President of BCCI, revealed a lot about Chappell's opinion of his team and players. In the e-mail, Chappell had pinpointed Ganguly and expressed his sheer disapproval of Ganguly's approach. Hence, it affirmed all the reports about a feud between the two.
Chappell made innumerable changes to the Indian side. His manner of functioning was evidently different from the captain and that did not go down very well with Ganguly. Their infamous public feud during the 2005 tour to Zimbabwe cost Ganguly his captaincy and then a place in the side. The reins of the team were then handed over to Rahul Dravid but they were not content under Chappell.
The Indian team's crumbling performance under him did the rest of the job. Team India's early exit from the 2007 World Cup led to his sacking. Chappell's stint as the Indian coach was ill-starred. Although Chappell continued to mouth praises for the Indian team after his exit, Indian Cricket will never include his name in the list of the favourite coach.
Gary Kirsten (2007-2011) – 9/10
Kirsten is the name that pops up first when someone mentions the most successful coach of the Indian Cricket team. The former South African cricketer stepped into the shoes of the mentor in March 2008, leading the Indian team to the most awaited days of glory. Gary Kirsten's method of functioning fetched his admirable uniqueness. He was instrumental in Team India's rise but was always out of public sight. A man who abided by “actions speaks louder than words” allowed his team's performance to speak for his efforts.
Although team India performed consistently well since the beginning of Kirsten's regime, their biggest achievement was the farewell present they gave to him. Team India went on to become the world champions by winning the World Cup in 2011 and lifted the trophy after 28 long years. Undoubtedly, Kirsten was the paragon for the masses.
During his tenure, Team India also won the Border-Gavaskar trophy as well as its first bilateral series in Sri Lanka. Their Test and ODI series victories in New Zealand also finally put an end to a 40-year drought as India soared to the top of the chart in the ICC Test Rankings in December 2009.
Gary Kirsten and the former Indian skipper, Mahendra Singh Dhoni was also the most successful leadership duo the Indian Cricket witnessed. They perfectly blended with each other's approach thereby, leading the team to the much awaited World Cup win. The South African invested a lot of confidence in the Indian team and worked on their strengths and weaknesses from every prospect.
He bid adieu to the Indian cricket at a very successful and content note. His contributions to the Indian Cricket can never be measured. Despite being behind the scene, he ensured that the world applauds his show.
Duncan Fletcher (2011-2015) – 7/10
Duncan Fletcher is the only Indian coach who witnessed two contradicting lines of success being built in synchronisation. He may not have been able to produce the kind of success that was seen during the reign of his predecessors, under his coaching, the team performed brilliantly in the limited overs format. However, it was the team's performance in the Tests which continuously raised questions upon the coach's efficiency.
The Indian team was defeated in the series by 0-4 back to back in England followed by Australia. The team also lost test match series against New Zeland and South Africa which built a large number of challenges for the team. MS Dhoni and Fletcher were being dragged into the common pit of blame despite no one's ability to recognise the actual reason behind the consistent failure of the Indian team in Tests.
What added to the difficulty was the sharp contradiction in the performance of the same team in the limited overs format. The Indian team was ruling the T20 and ODIs and registered back to back victories. They defeated West Indies and Sri Lanka in the tri-series and continued to dominate England in the 2014 ODI series. The Indian team also clinched the Champions Trophy-2013 and asserted their dominance in the limited over format.
However, the Indian team lost to Australia in the 2015 World Cup and that led to the end of Fletcher's tenure with the Indian Cricket team. Fletcher's reign boasted of team India's stellar performance in the limited over format but invited a lot of controversies due to their performance in the Tests.
Ravi Shashtri (2014-2016) – 7/10
After the 2015 World Cup, Ravi Shashtri assumed complete responsibility of the Indian team as their Director. Although he was not designated as the coach, Ravi Shastri guided the team for the next two years. The former Indian all-rounder carries his own legacy in the world of Cricket and his job with the Indian team was no different as he time and again shouldered interim responsibilities of the team. During his tenure, team India reached the semi-finals of all 2015 World Cup and 2016 T20 World Cup.
His biggest achievements in this role boast of India's brilliant comeback in the Tests. The Indian team defeated Sri Lanka in a Test series and went on to stunningly defeat South Africa 3-0 at home, regaining their No. 1 spot in the ICC Test rankings. Not only this, Team India picked up consistency across the three formats.
The sub-continental giants also went on to win their first T20 bilateral series in Australia as they whitewashed the hosts before clinching the Asia Cup during his regime. Ravi Shastri was one of the most efficient persons in the administrative job with respect to the Indian team.
He can also be an option for the next coach of the Indian team.
Anil Kumble (2016-2017) – 8/10
Anil Kumble’s appointment as the head coach of the Indian cricket team was a sign of a new era for the team when he signed a one-year contract with the BCCI. However, the spinner's regime as the head coach of India had its own nasty turn towards the end.
Arguably the most successful coach of the Indian Cricket team, under him, India dominated every other country in the cricket world. And apart from a Test Series victory in West Indies, the Indian team continued to defeat countries like New Zeland, England, Bangladesh and Australia. Team India lost only one out of 13 Tests and displayed terrific form throughout the year.
However, before the commencement of the Champions Trophy 2017, news about the tussle between Kumble and the Indian skipper, Virat Kohli started doing rounds. Both of them consistently denied the existence of any such rift but it all came to an end with Kumble's refusal to extending his contract.
The difference in the approach of these two players often regarded as the cause of the conflict. It is justified for the contradicting opinions to exist when it comes to the coach and the captain. However, it would go beyond any possibility of dissolving came as the shocking factor.