What seemed impossible just a few weeks ago may just happen.
The eternally vilified Duncan Fletcher, who has been blamed for the Indian team’s free-fall since he took over from Gary Kirsten, may have his contract extended.
If sources within the Board of Control for Cricket in India BCCI) are to be believed, president N Srinivasan and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni are backing the Zimbabwean for another term.
After suffering successive 0-4 whitewashes abroad and defeated in a home series against England, most people thought that it was only a matter of time before Fletcher had to pack his bags. Apparently, that’s not the case.
The reason could be that if Dhoni can survive such a poor run of results, it would be unfair on the former England coach to get the axe.
As usual, BCCI is not giving anything away. “So far there have been no talks at all about Fletcher’s removal...talks will happen only post the Australian series when his contract ends,” a top BCCI official told Mail Today.
“There have been talks with a couple of people in the past, but nothing has come off it. So as of now, there is no reason to believe that his contract won’t be extended.”
Absence of a break and lack of worthwhile replacements could also be reasons why Fletcher could be asked to stay. After the ongoing Australia series, the players will be busy with the Indian Premier League, followed by the Champions Trophy in England. BCCI thinks there is not enough time for a change of guard.
Not that there are candidates queuing up for the job. With India playing almost exclusively outside the sub-continent over the next 18 months, the recent track record does not hold much promise. It would be a brave man to take the coach’s role.
Former Kiwi skipper Stephen Fleming, now coach of the Chennai Super Kings, is highly regarded but is not available for the India job yet.
It means that Fletcher, under whose guidance India has won eight and lost 10 Tests out of 22, is likely to be in charge when India face the toughest of assignments in South Africa later this year.
When stars such as Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan find themselves out of the team on account of non-performance, it would be ironical if Fletcher is granted an extension after presiding over one of the worst phases in Indian cricket.
His record pales in comparison with his predecessor Gary Kirsten (won 17 Tests, lost eight) and is even worse than the much reviled Greg Chappell (won seven, lost four) and the popular John Wright (won 20, lost 15). When those three could not stay beyond their sell-by dates, what Fletcher can achieve after such a nightmarish record in India can well be imagined.
BCCI chief and Dhoni said to be in support of the idea. Lack of time and suitable replacements put forward as reasons.