The coaching dilemma India is faced with
A coach's position is considerably diluted with the appointment of a Team Director. Maybe "Team Director" is the new name for the term "Coach". Should the administrators appoint a local or an overseas coach? Ganguly and Shastri are both touted as Team Directors. Both have their strengths and weaknesses.
India is yet to appoint a coach for its team. It has been 2 months since the void was created by Duncan Fletcher’s exit after India’s World Cup quest. His stint as India’s head coach was at best chequered, and at worst shocking.
Fletcher found it impossible to break India’s jinx overseas. I am not sure that it is entirely his fault, but it has to be pointed out that he did not add another dimension to India’s overseas prowess (or the lack of it) in any shape or form. India has happily continued its dismal performance overseas irrespective of who the coach is.
So what does that tell us? It tells us that it may not be the coach. Is it just possible that Indian players really are tigers at home but turn into cats overseas?
It has been the same for the last 40 years and Fletcher was unable to perform any minor miracle during his tenure. In fact they went from bad to worse under his wing – if that was possible.
Also, the appointment of Ravi Shastri as the Team Director did not augur well for Fletcher’s coaching job. It was made clear to all concerned that Fletcher was responsible for the on-field performance of the team, but Ravi Shastri was responsible for the overall performance of the team – meaning that Fletcher reported to Shastri.
This is a strange system of team administration, and only Indian administrators can come up with such an out-of-the-box (read crazy) short term fix that ultimately confuses the living daylights out of everybody concerned. Most of all the coach and the players.
Does it really matter who India’s new coach is?
Does it really matter who the coach is when you have a Director above everyone else? Maybe the long-term strategy is to have a Team Director and no coach. Or just bowling, batting and fielding coaches.
Sourav Ganguly is being touted as the next team Director – it is rumoured that Ganguly has the backing of BCCI, in other words the confidence of his old ally Jagmohan Dalmiya, who is the current BCCI President.
It is also rumoured that Shastri, on the other hand, who was only doing everyone a favour in the interim, has now decided that it is an attractive position after all and wants to continue indefinitely.
Don’t get me wrong; Ganguly could well turn out to be a very good team Director (coach). He has history of nurturing players and is competitive and unrelenting in approach, has captained India successfully, and instilled the thirst for winning in his team.
On the other hand, although Ganguly’s strategic skills might be next to none, his coaching skills, perhaps especially relating to fielding and fitness, is next to just about anybody.
Whoever is chosen will have to walk the tightrope in keeping BCCI happy and also delivering on the ground. He has to be both strategic and diplomatic – whereas Ganguly might be strategic, Shastri is diplomatic. No points for guessing which way the BCCI would rather roll.
Or should we again go down the path of an overseas former player as India’s team director?
But does it really matter who shall be named on June 6? As for the Indian players, they can come back home from the next foreign disgrace and a pot of gold will be awaiting them in the form of IPL. If some individual performances adorn the otherwise indifferent attitude of the players overseas, well then that will only help the individual players’ bid price to shoot up to the sky during IPL auction.
All good. Everyone is happy. Except the poor cricket fan. Who cares; he is only a minor cog in the wheel of this commercial juggernaut.