'Graham Reid has a good understanding of international hockey,' says Max Caldas

Reid with Max Caldas
Reid with Max Caldas

If there does seem to be an all-pervading sense of skepticism following the formal announcement of Graham Reid's appointment as Head Coach of the Indian men's team - the same has little to do with the Australian's own caliber or track record.

At Rio 2016, Roelant Oltmans guided his charges to an Olympic quarterfinal, for the first time since 1980 - after ensuring that the Indians stood on the Champions Trophy podium after a gap of 34 years.

Harendra Singh inspired his side to their second consecutive Champions Trophy silver, last year, which enabled India to rise to the fifth spot in the world rankings.

Yet, neither coach was deemed good enough to carry on - nor, was Sjoerd Marijne, despite winning an Asia Cup gold and an HWL bronze - and, as the baton changes hands once again, Indian hockey lovers can, perhaps, be forgiven for not appearing to be overly enthusiastic as the news sinks in.

The greatest coaches have not been able to deliver in the subcontinent - Ashish Ballal

"Do not know much about him (Reid) - the greatest coaches have not been able to deliver in the Indian subcontinent, in any team sport," said former India goalkeeper Ashish Ballal to Sportskeeda.

Following India's failure to bring home a medal at Gold Coast last year, several Indian players voiced their displeasure at having to adapt to novel concepts like a player-driven approach, and made no secret of the fact that they would prefer a coach who spoke the same language - literally, and otherwise.

Goalkeeper Sreejesh, who was chosen to captain the Indians ahead of the Champions Trophy, used witty metaphors like dal-chaawal and cheese to distinguish between Harendra Singh and his Dutch predecessor at a press conference, going on to outline clearly that Indians like following the teacher and being told what to do.

A year later, Manpreet Singh - who lost the captaincy following the Commonwealth Games, is now leading the side again - and will do so, in accordance with the instructions of yet another foreigner, who will undoubtedly need time to get acclimatized to a lot more than the local climate.

Reid and Ciriello - will the Aussie combination click for Indian hockey?

Graham Reid has one distinct advantage that, perhaps, his predecessors from overseas did not - India's Analytical Coach Chris Ciriello has played for the Kookaburras under Reid's tutelage, and the ace drag flicker's year-long experience with the Indians may prove to be invaluable for the new Head Coach.

Reid coached the Aussies in the Champions Trophy of 2012 and also witnessed his side prevail in a close shootout against the Indians in the London edition of the same tournament in 2016.

Three Australians - Graham Reid, Chris Ciriello, and High-Performance Director David John will now be at the helm of affairs, and attempt to ensure that the Indians make it to Tokyo 2020 and, hopefully, make an impact there once the preliminary objective is obtained.

Reid has spent a substantial amount of time in the Netherlands and has also worked as an Assistant to Max Caldas.

Sportskeeda spoke to the Argentinian who guided the Dutch men's team to silver at Odisha 2012 in order to get a better understanding of what Reid will bring to the table in India.

"Good listener - looks for quality in every play of the game. Good understanding of international hockey. He also builds good relationships with the players and staff."

Reid is no stranger to India - the former Olympian was Head Coach of the Australian team during the Hockey World League in Raipur and also assisted Roelant Oltmans in the UP Wizards camp during the Hockey India League.

Just over a decade or so ago, Aussie legend Ric Charlesworth who had been appointed as Technical Advisor for the Indian men's team left the country bitter and disgusted with the system. One hopes that the man who replaced Charlesworth as coach of the Kookaburras, in 2014, will have a longer and more successful India stint.

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Edited by Arvind Sriram
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