"A good coach will make his players see what they can be, rather than what they are.” A good coach is a man who always works behind the scenes, and yet remains one of the key reasons for his team’s success. These mentors often go unappreciated even when their teams perform well, despite giving their players the training lessons and the drive to win.
India first appointed a coach for the cricket team in 1992 and has had a total of ten coaches since, namely Ajit Wadekar, Sandeep Patil, Madan Lal, Anshuman Gaekwad, Kapil Dev, John Wright, Greg Chappel, Ravi Shastri, Gary Kirsten and Duncan Fletcher.
The Men in Blue have seen their fair share of masterful coaches over the years, and here’s a look at the 5 best:
5. Anshuman Gaekwad (1997-1999, 2000)
Anshuman Dattajirao Gaekwad is a former Indian Cricketer and two-time Indian national cricket coach. He played in 40 Test matches and 15 One Day Internationals. Gaekwad coached the national team in two spells, from October 1997 to September 1999 and from August 2000 to October 2000.
He replaced Madan Lal as head coach when India was going through a difficult phase in 1997 and did a remarkable job in limited overs cricket. Gaekwad remained with Team India for a few years during which the team went through a rollercoaster ride of sorts. If there were a few disastrous outings like the 1999 tour of Australia, there were also some unforgettable moments like the Independence Cup final triumph over Pakistan and Anil Kumble's perfect ten against Pakistan in February '99 – the major highlights of his coaching stint with India.
He shared a good rapport with the then skipper Sachin Tendulkar but didn’t have a good association with the board and was removed in a quick and sudden turn of events. However, he took up the job once again for a brief stint when Kapil Dev quit this job in 2000.
4. Ajit Wadekar (1992–1996)
Ajit Wadekar during his time as a player led Team India to the zenith of world cricket with players like Sunil Gavaskar, Gundappa Vishwanath and Farokh Engineer in his team. An aggressive batsman at No.3, a sharp fielder at slips and a tactical skipper, the man who led India to its maiden series wins in West Indies and England had a successful tenure as a coach too.
Under the captaincy of Mohd. Azharuddin, Wadekar’s coaching career was adorned with some very memorable Test wins in the early 1990s and he was always seen motivating his boys – be it a hard time or a purple patch for the team.
During his tenure as coach, India whitewashed England 3-0 at home, and remained unbeaten in Tests for a stunning stretch of 14 matches in the 1992-1994 period. The Men in Blue also played remarkably in ODI tournaments, winning several of them, including the 1993 5-nation Hero Cup at home, the Singer World Series in Sri Lanka, the Wills World Series and the Titan Cup in India.
He was succeeded by Sandeep Patil in March 1996.