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The coaching dilemma India is faced with

Will he become India’s next coach? India is yet to appoint a coach for its team. It’s been over two months since the void was create ...

CONTRIBUTOR
Feature 29 May 2015, 20:43 IST
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Will he become India’s next coach?

India is yet to appoint a coach for its team. It’s been over two months since the void was created by Duncan Fletcher who left after India’s World Cup quest.  His stint as India’s head coach was at best chequered and at worst shocking.

Fletcher found it next to impossible to break India’s jinx overseas. It may not be 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 irrrespective of who the coach is.

So what does that tell us? It tells us that it may not be the coach. Or is it just possible that the Indian players are tigers at home but turn into cats overseas?

It has been the same over the last 40 years and Fletcher was unable to perform any minor miracles during his tenure. In fact they went from bad to worse under his wing – if that is possible. I have to add that all cricketing sides face this problem; they all seem to perform well in home conditions but are not as successful in alien conditions.  But the Indian players have made this into an art form!

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 onfield performances of the team, but Ravi Shastri was responsible for the overall performance of the team – meaning Fletcher reported to Shastri.

It is a weird situation and only Indian administrators can come up with such out of the box (read crazy) short term fixes that ultimately confuses the living daylights out of everybody concerned.  Most of all the coach and the players.

Is the team director clipping a coach’s wings?

Does it really matter who the coach is when you have a team Director above everyone else? Guess not. It all but relegates the coach’s position to the bin.  Maybe, ‘Team Director’ is the new name for ‘Coach’.

May be the strategy is to have a team director and no coach! Or just bowling, batting and fielding coaches! Perhaps! So I guess then that team Director position is here to stay.

Sourav Ganguly is being touted as the next team Director, as Shastri was only being ‘helpful’ in gracefully agreeing to do the job in the interim until the end of the World Cup.  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 afterall 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 mates. Something that Shastri never had the opportunity to display in his playing career. Again, Shastri might have these qualities, but you have to just take them at his word.

On the other hand, although Ganguly’s strategic skills might be next to none, his coaching skills, 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 deliver on the pitch. He has to be both strategic and diplomatic – sounds like an oxymoron within Indian cricket administration.  Whereas Ganguly might be strategic, Shastri will be diplomatic.  Not sure which will deliver results in the Indian scheme of things.  The former will be good for cricket and the latter will be good for the BCCI. You can figure it out for yourself which will prevail.

Should we go for a foreign coach again?

Or should we again go down the path of an overseas former player as India’s team director?

Now that is a can of worms! An Indian is always going to be accused of being parochial in selection and he has to walk the tightrope, and a foreign team director will only bring about marginal change in results if he has to keep all the administrators and senior players happy.

Either way we are all but setting them up to fail. That’s a pity!

So who cares! Just go overseas, have a good time, and get thrashed again. Come back home and a pot of gold will be awaiting you 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 the 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.

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