Mission Redemption

When India tours England in June this year for a five test series, the prestigious Pataudi Trophy isn’t the only thing they need to regain.

Ups and downs are part of every sport and cricket is no exception. Great cricket teams of the past have been associated with a certain aura and a feeling of invincibility. Case in point, the West Indies team of the 1970s and the Australian team of the early 2000s. Rankings of today are not the rightful indicators of a team’s performance, yet they make a subtle point. Today, India is ranked 5th among the test playing nations. With a rating of 102, they are ranked below their arch rivals Pakistan, who despite their lack of home advantage, are ranked 4th with a rating of 103.

When India toured England for a four match test series in 2011, they started as the No.1 ranked team with a star studded batting line-up and an okay-ish bowling attack. Six weeks later, their pace spearhead had already pulled out of the series due to a hamstring, their batting was in shambles except for one superhuman gentleman (literally, as he did everything apart from rolling his arm over) called Rahul Dravid and their team morale was utterly shattered and considerably beyond recovery.

For a team which was on the high of a limited overs World Cup victory after 28 years, it was a fall that can be best described using a mathematical graph with a near to vertical slope (although it is undefined, it pretty much stands for this case). Soon after the debacle, the explanations and excuses followed. People listed excessive cricket, player fatigue/ burnout as reasons and some of them even had the atrocity to blame the pitches for assisting excessive swing and seam, a traditional chink in the Indian batting armoury. Yet, for all the hullabaloo that emerged, the bottomline was that India, being the top test ranked team, lost 4-0 to an opposition who was very well prepared and came out all guns blazing. On the other hand, India looked under-prepared, burdened and lost.

So much so that they had to recruit a seam bowler midway through the series, who until a week earlier, was partying on the beaches of Miami. Predictably, R.P.Singh’s first ball after his comeback was a dud, bouncing three times before it reached the batsmen. The delivery was called a dead ball and the stands were filled with laughter, with people wondering if this was a joke.

Throughout the series, India never managed to score more than 300 in eight innings, with only Dravid managing to get to the three figure mark thrice, with a top score of 146. Two of the losses were innings defeats while the other two featured huge losing margins of 196 and 319 runs respectively. Probably the only time when they had England on the mat was in the first innings of the 2nd test, when Ishant Sharma ran through the English top order to reduce them to 88/6. Stuart Broad then played a fighting knock of almost run-a-ball 64 to lift England’s spirits. He came back to claim 6-46 with the ball with an economy of 1.96; a spell that is remembered for sharp, incisive seam bowling. India never really recovered from this onslaught.

Incidentally, this series started a period of steep decline for India in tests, with yet another whitewash against a rampaging Australian side down under and a shock series defeat at home against England. In retrospect, India’s rise to the top of the test rankings was a painstakingly slow process. It took years of toil for stalwarts like Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman and Kumble to lift India to the top. Yet, the slide to the bottom was pretty swift and shocking rather than surprising.

Three years later, Indian cricket has moved on. The greats have bowed out. The young guns are establishing themselves and the pain of those humiliating defeats is just a memory. Barring MS Dhoni, Gautam Gambhir and Ishant Sharma, none of the other squad members have played Test cricket in England, let alone being a part of that horror series. Yes, the squad does not carry the burden of defeats, but then it is also largely short of experience. Among the batsmen, MS Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir have played 81 and 54 test matches respectively. Ishant Sharma, for all his unfulfilled potential, is the only bowler to have crossed the 50 tests landmark.

Preparations to the tour seem to be on track, with the BCCI resting most of the squad members for India’s tour of Bangladesh. For obvious monetary reasons, it values the IPL participation of its stars more important than an international fixture against Bangladesh. Probably the BCCI is aware of the fatigue factor and deems it necessary to send a mentally fresh squad to the series. While Bangladesh might be crying foul over the lack of interest shown by the Indian board, it at least provides a much needed rest to the players.

From an Indian fan’s perspective, this is an exciting series. An opportunity to redeem the lost glory. With an exciting bunch of players, most notably the batsmen, India has the chance to start its ascendancy to the summit. Make no mistake, this series is not the platform to avenge the humiliation of the past. Sport has no place for revenge sagas. Rather, it is a chance to recover the lost respect and re-establish the faith and pride among the supporters.

To quote Confucius:

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall.

India has not won an overseas test for about three years now. Trent Bridge looks like the perfect place to start.

Share this post
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

MUMBAI INDIANS: THE GAME CHANGERS

If there is something called twenty20 cricket, then this is it! If there is something called a cricket team, then this is it! If there is something called spirit, then this is it! and, if there is someone who can be called champions, then MUMBAI INDIANS it is……..!

Wow! What a game of cricket. It is no more that game where precise movement of the feet qualified by a calculated swing of the bat at the right moment takes away a well swung ball pitched at the right spot by the bowler. It is no more that game, where you wait for a loose delivery to happen. It is that game where nothing less than the spirit of the game and the situation that controls you. Cricket has evolved, evolved, evolved and evolved to become what Mumbai Indians played against the Rajasthan Royals.

The batting performance from the Rajasthan Royals was nothing short of a classy innings. Sanju V Samson and Karun Nair took the game away from the Mumbai Indians just like the snap of the fingers. Copy book shorts from Sanju had no trouble to face even from the top class deliveries of quality spinners like Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha. Karun Nair, on the other hand, was blazing hot with whatever he felt like doing in the crease. This partnership meant that most of the viewers other than RR and MI fans switched off their television as their was little point in believing that this mammoth total would be chased down by the unstable MI lineup.

But, what was unbelievable has happened now. Mi has chased down the total in just 87 balls! The intent from the MI was just evident from the very first ball that Lendl Simmons smashed for a boundary. Just as Mumbai were cutting loose and had scored over 60 within five years, they had lost three wickets. Just after that Rohit fell as well. So, it was happening- Mumbai was going for the kill and as usual they were loosing wickets at the right interval. From here on what happened is something that happen only in dreams.

Ambati Rayudu and Corey Anderson were smashing six after six, with a few boundaries to form the icing. They were smashing the cricket balls just like hitting away tennis balls. They just made the unbelievable happen! When Rayudu was run out in the 86th ball, it was thought that the bewildering effort has gone in vain. Even when the screen showed that a boundary in the next ball would win Mumbai the match, it was doubted whether Tare can score a first ball boundary under this pressure situation. But, even a Faulkner delivery was smashed into the stance and Mumbai sealed their win.

All those who have turned their heads against IPL after the incidents last year, see what is cricket. A few rotten apples, cannot rot the whole pack, if it is picked out at the right moment. Well, this is cricket. With Sachin, Rhodes, Kumble, Pollock, John Wright and all their players among the ranks, Mumbai has done what they are capable and what they have so far done only on papers. Thank you Mumbai Indians for the treat. You deserve the trophy again!

Share this post
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

YUVRAJ SINGH: A LOSER OR AN ‘OUT OF TOUCH’ PRINCE?

On 19th september 2007, South Africa saw one of the most astonishing innings it has ever seen. A lad, 26 years old, walked in. With his bat, he smashed the cricket ball around, all flying. All the balls in the 18th over enjoyed a free flight into the stands.  He had done the same earlier in Under 15 and Under 19 World Cups for his national side. He repeated his special performance  at the international level, time and again, and proved his worth over and over again. The Natwest series in England, which he clinched back after a nail biting match from England, with a partnership alongside  Mohammad Kaif, established his importance in the side. He was the best fielder in the Gangulian team. And now, all of a sudden, he has become a villain……………..!

 

Yes, its none other than the PRINCE OF PUNJAB - YUVRAJ SINGH. There is absolutely nothing better to watch than Yuvi at his blistering best. Even against the fastest of bowlers, just a flick of the wrist and then you see the spectators throwing in the ball from the stands. Bowl to Yuvraj on the leg stump, and you will have to collect the ball from the boundary. It is nothing but his heroics that took India into the finals of the 2011 ICC WORLD CUP CRICKET all the way from the group stage. Those innings against Australia and West Indies and his bowling, against almost all the teams, still remains a golden feather in the Indian World Cup triumph.

 

And, now, a single knock that did not rise to the occasion has become a terrible accident to have happened. The same man who was hailed as a prince has now become a villain. Amidst all the blames on Yuvi, people tend to forget that he is a human as well. They seem to forget that he has just returned from the deadliest of diseases. They seem to forget that he is the person who had set the trend of flying in the field before the indian children and cricket aspirants. How can they forget that he has for long been the most trusted batsman for India at no. 05? How can pelting stones at his house for one bad performance, for a bad day at office, be justified? Of course it was the worst possible time for such a costly error. But he deserves kindness and trust. He deserves to be backed by his fans while he is at the wrong end of fortunes.

 

It is high time that we, the fans, realise that cricket is a game and that it  is played by humans and not super humans. We got to accept that even  these superstars are bound to commit mistakes. Criticism, when healthy,  is very good. Even the great Sachin Tendulkar has had to face it. But  pelting stones can occupy only the lowest rung in the ladder of decency.  Yuvraj Singh, we are sorry. It was nothing but our desperateness taking  the form of aggression. We are really sorry that you were at the receiving  end. SORRY…. SORRY…. SORRY….!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Cricket: A great leveller

July 13, 2002: Natwest Series 2002, Final, India vs England

India – 133/4 in 21 overs in reply to England’s 326.

India’s experienced batsmen are back in the pavilion. In walks the 20 year old Yuvraj Singh. He starts off nervously with leg byes off Ashley Giles and then watches in horror as India slump to 147/5. But then, confidence takes center-stage and in the company of the 21 year old Mohammad Kaif, Yuvraj lifts India from shambles and sets the tone for a famous victory. Harsha Bhogle rejoices in the commentary box: “This young man here is playing the innings of his life!”

March 24, 2011: ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, Quarter-final, India vs Australia

India – 143/3 in 28.3 overs in reply to Australia’s 260.

In comes the in-form batsman Yuvraj. There is no nervousness this time. Slams his first ball to the midwicket fence and then in the company of Raina, never really loses sight of the run-rate. Thrashes a scorcher from Brett Lee to the cover boundary, let’s out a mighty roar, flashes his blade in the air, comes down on his knees and displays raw emotion. India canter home with 5 wickets in hand and 14 balls to spare.

April 6, 2014: ICC World T20, Final, India vs Sri Lanka

India – 64/2 in 10.3 overs batting first.

A struggling and out of form Yuvraj Singh comes to the crease. Prods and Plonks at deliveries outside off stump. Tries a slog sweep unsuccessfully. Comes down the wicket and gets beaten. Defends awkwardly to innocuous deliveries. Gets rapped on the pads numerous times. Makes a dispiriting 11 runs off 21 balls, not before failing to give the strike to his in-form batting partner and sucking the momentum out of the innings. India reach a paltry 130. Game over.

————————————————————————————————————————————-

“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

At this point, nobody knows this better than Yuvraj Singh. For a man who has conquered some staggering peaks and seen a few crushing blows, it is an irony that the game which had given him a reason to fight and rise above a deadly disease should send him crashing into cricketing oblivion. Make no mistake, his India career is far from over. But gauging by the reactions of the fans, media and experts, a ‘fourth’ comeback in two years now might be next to impossible.

It has been reiterated by people over the years that cricket is an unpredictable game and that factor makes it all the more interesting. But unpredictability can get on to your nerves, especially if you are an emotional Indian fan. Rewind to 1996 and the infamous India vs Sri Lanka World cup match which ended abruptly, with Clive Lloyd, the match referee awarding the game to Sri Lanka as it was highly risky to continue when the crowd was unruly and the stands were set on fire.

Fast forward to 2006: the shocking incident when Sachin Tendulkar was ‘booed’ off his home ground -Wankhede for underperforming. Fans in India have always been vocal with their emotions and this time around, things don’t seem to be rather different.

Reactions from the fans on Yuvraj’s style of play on night of the final have been rather mixed. While some of them have come out in support of the dashing southpaw, others have lambasted him mercilessly. Stray incidents of stone pelting by angry cricket fans on Yuvraj’s home have also been reported. While that is utterly condemnable, it is not at all surprising.

So is Yuvraj the reason for India’s defeat?

Cricket is a team sport. While it is true that singular moments are decisive in a crunch match, it is also naïve to entirely blame individual performances. Yes, his scratchy innings was an ordeal to watch and certainly had some effect on the outcome, but then, a lot of other things went wrong for India.

It is actually pretty hard to predict how the match would have turned out, had he struck the ball well or got out early or at least given much of the strike to his partner, Virat Kohli, who was setting himself up for a flourish at the death. But before the criticism pours in, there are a few factors that need to be considered.

Yuvraj Singh was dropped from the Asia Cup ODI squad a few weeks back. But the selectors deemed it plausible to draft him into the T20 squad for an ICC event and interestingly, a World Cup at that. Now, that’s an awful lot of faith to be shown on a batsman, who wasn’t even in the reckoning for the 50 over format. His domestic returns prior to the tournament have also been uninspiring and did not warrant a natural selection.

M.S.Dhoni is known as man who leads by instinct and a ‘gut feeling’ and that approach has held him in good stead for a long time now. While his decision to promote Yuvraj ahead of the in-form Raina might have been tactical, it is most certainly debatable. But then, Dhoni trusted his trump card of 2007 and 2011 to repeat his magic but the magician seemed to have run out of tricks.

Cricket is, after all, a sport. A team can attempt to explicate all their plans for weeks together, but a flawless execution is never assured. After being the driving force behind two world cup titles, it seems as though that the Yuvraj Singh of yore has gone off the radar. Is he past his prime? Maybe. You never know, for cricket is a funny game and form is a fickle companion.

As Sachin Tendulkar so sensibly put it : “You can criticize Yuvraj, but do not crucify him.”

But then, as disappointed Yuvraj fans will tell you, cricket, in all its glory, is a great leveller.

Share this post
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

CRICKET AS A SPORT AND AS A RELIGION

 

‘Haven’t you got anything to study? All the time you would be in front of the television watching all these people hitting a ball with a stick. What do you think you get from this?’ This is a common question in almost all the houses in India with kids. What is more interesting is that the adult, who has just shouted at the kid, would have been as much enthusiastic and excited about cricket, as the child is, in his childhood days. But now

cricket has become a waste to him. It has become just like any other sport. What could be the reason?

 

For almost all the kids around, Sachin Tendulkar is their role model, Yuvraj is their most favourite cricketer and Virat Kohli is the synonym for glamour. This is quite usual because it is in a country called India that they are born. Here cricket is a religion. At least the highlights of some match are a must for the survival in this country. A Bharat Ratna for scientist Rao makes little impact here. But one for Sachin Tendulkar becomes a national celebration here. Might be Indians are becoming mad here, but our emotional attachment to cricket is as tall as Mt. Everest, if not taller.

 

Almost all the kids in the country breathe cricket. Cricket is their food. The most common scene in India during the vacations and holidays is that of children playing cricket, wherever a strip of flat land is available. Come the teenage, there is nothing more interesting as crickrt in india. A six hit by Dhoni would surely be a matter of debate in almost all the schools and colleges. At the age of twenty, watching cricket live in some stadium becomes something to boast about. But after this, cricket dies out. Why?

Once you grow up, you realise how cricket is being degraded as a market commodity. You realise that it is nothing but business. Moreover, Ajay Jadeja , Mohammad  Azharuddin, S. Sreesanth, etc. have taken away the faith we had in our team and our players. BCCI president Sreenivasan’s shameful descent from his ‘throne’ makes things even worse. Cricket has always been under the shadow of corruption and favouritism. Remember the Hansie Cronje issue? All these have made cricket like any other sport.

There should be some sort of a resurrection for cricket soon, very soon in fact. It should be good enough to raise cricket as a religion yet again. It should be able to revive the real love for cricket in Indians. It is not as easy as it seems. One has to work all over, from the scratch to do it. Hopefully appointing Sunil Gavaskar as the BCCI chief does the trick. ‘Long Live Cricket.’

Share this post
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Dale Steyn grabs a victory from the jaws of defeat

No team has ever successfully chased down a 170 plus target against South Africa and the heroics of Dale Steyn ensured that it stayed that way. Steyn single-handedly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat for the Proteas by showcasing some stunning display of death over bowling and thus securing a narrow two run victory over the ‘Kiwis’ in their group match .

The bowling Spearhead finished with excellent match figures of four for 17, more importantly he held his nerve in the final over when the Black Caps just required seven and consequently three from the last delivery.

Dale Steyn

Dale Steyn

It was hard luck for Ross Taylor who gave bite to the chase with a match making 68 of 37 balls as he was run out of the final delivery trying to hoick it over, only managing a push back to Steyn who eagerly ripped of the bails and let the celebrations follow.

Earlier in the day, The Proteas made a quiet start to their innings, reaching just 39 by the end of the powerplay for the loss of two wickets. They surely looked getting into deeper trouble when they lost AB De Devilliers who was bowled over by Nathan McCullum.

His dismissal brought J.P Duminy on the field to partner Hashim Amla and their partnership changed the game around. Amla played cautiously for his run-a-ball 41 and finally fell comically, when a bunt down the ground struck his partner’s bat and looped up to give Corey Anderson a bizarre return catch. Duminy though was unrelenting on the Kiwi attack as he struck 3 massive sixes and 10 boundaries on his way to match winning score of 86.

Duminy fireworks in the last 5 overs helped South Africa add 70 runs and consequently finish a lot higher than it looked for a majority of the innings.

In reply New Zealand began with morale boosting 57 inside the first seven overs. The Openers Kane Williamson and Martin Guptill making merry over the South African pacemen Morne Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe . But once Guptill and Skipper Brendom Mccullum fell in quick succession, The Proteas felt a comeback was on the cards

Williamson found a great ally in Ross Taylor who clobbered 3 sixes and a couple of fours. But the return of Steyn spelled the doom for the Kiwis as he got the well set Williamson out for 51 and opened the game once again.

With a mere 7 runs required in the last over, the kiwis thought they  had the match in the bag but Steyn had other plans as he sent down a fierce over that accounted for Luke Ronchi and finally Taylor.

Share this post
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The man in the shadows

dravid

It’s almost a cliché now- Rahul Dravid is a man in the shadows. This man’s career has been filled with glittering records, only to see them fall apart in comparison to those of his compatriot, everyone’s favorite Mumbaikar. Statistics do tell a story, and in Rahul Dravid’s case, they sing.

But figures on a sheet of paper don’t even begin to describe this man’s contribution to the team. You could say that a Test debut in Lord’s is every budding cricketer’s dream, but a century on debut at Lord’s is probably every Test cricketer’s dream. Rahul Dravid came agonizingly close to that, when a seaming ball from Chris Lewis      robbed him of his ultimate dream- one he would go on to achieve 15 long years later. In that test, Dravid watched as another young talent, a swashbuckling southpaw, tore his way to a century and into the limelight. Thus began the career of Rahul Dravid, the man in the shadows.

As his career progressed, it was clear that Dravid was no ordinary batsman. With solid technique and unbreakable temperament, he went on to accumulate a mountain of runs in both formats of the game, and established himself as a great test batsman. Meanwhile, the phenomenon that is Sachin Tendulkar made his way into the hearts of a billion people. Rahul Dravid was forced to play second fiddle. He went on to establish himself as one of the greatest test batsman ever, without drawing any attention to himself.

What makes Dravid truly great is not the fact that he is not given even half the credit he deserves for his contribution to the team, but that he truly does not care about the credit given to him, and is ready to sacrifice that, among many other things, for the team.

Rahul Dravid is a true patriot. He has made more sacrifices for the Indian team than most would make for their family. In 1998, he was asked to keep wickets as the team needed an extra batsman. He stepped up, even though he had no previous experience. In 2007, during a test series in England, he was asked to open the batting to see out the new ball, even though he had previously admitted to hating opening. He did so without batting an eyelid. During a series in Australia, when Glenn McGrath was on fire, he stood at one end and completely blocked out the great pacer for his whole spell, without scoring a single run and exposing the strike to the less experienced batsman at the other end. While commentators chided him for ‘going into his shell’, that innings of thirty-odd runs is what saved India the match.

Numerous such occasions have come and gone, where Dravid has either won or saved the match for India by playing not the innings that no one else could, but one that no one else saw. He did the job that had to be done, and he did it for the team. It is, therefore, almost befitting, that even his retirement was eclipsed. Amidst the fanfare surrounding the Little Master’s announcement that he is going to retire from all forms of cricket after playing his 200th test match, the Indian public has forgotten all about another man who has decided to call it a day. But it is not in Dravid’s nature to care about such things. With a smile in his face and minimum fan fare, he has walked into the sunset, satisfied that he has given everything he could for Indian cricket. He is forever the hero India deserves, but not the one it needs.

Share this post
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Gully cricket

When you think of things that define India, it hardly comes to mind, but the truth is, gully cricket defines India just as much as Diwali, Bollywood and the summer heat. Gully cricket personifies the ‘chalta hai’ attitude, where the lack of a proper ground and gear is no excuse to not indulge in our country’s favorite pastime. Gully cricket is an inevitability for the children of India. Almost everyone would have played it, some time or the other.

Gully Cricket

All you need to play are a bat( or something that resembles it), a tennis ball, an open street/alley (cars zooming back and forth are no object) and a knowledge of the basic rules of cricket, along with many extra clauses, usually added on the spot, to make it feasible to play on the dusty road. There are, however, a few rules which are fairly common, wherever gully cricket is played. For example, a batsman can retire his innings at any time (usually to eat lunch) and come back later to continue on the same score. Another common rule is that a catch can be taken, albeit only with one hand, even after the ball pitches once. Many other rules are added, depending on the surroundings. Also, the guy who owns the bat is supreme, and window breaking is an eventuality.

To most Indian kids, gully cricket is synonymous with summer holidays, playing for hours under the hot sun and stopping only when the ball is no longer visible, with just enough time to eat, sleep and wake up to start the next day’s play. Days turn into weeks, with everyone blissfully unaware, trying to emulate their cricketing idols.

In fact, many Indian cricketing stars owe their success to some street or back alley. This is where every Indian’s love story with cricket begins.

Share this post
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Indian Partition League

Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Kolkata, Mohali, Hyderabad, Pune. Five years ago, if you asked someone what these nine cities had in common, you would get a bunch of confused and varied answers, if any at all.

Now, however, the same question would trigger a spontaneous response from a six year old. IPL.

Sadly, what connects these cities is also what divides them. Summer has become a time when the country is cleanly divided into nine.

Club over Country? : It’s time cricket took the limelight

Divisions are synonymous with sports, especially team sports, and even more so when the teams are based on pre-existing geographic and cultural divisions. The IPL, following on the footsteps of the English Premier league, one of the biggest sporting events in Europe, has divided the teams in such a way so that people can identify with their team.

Even though this has not caused problems in England, it is risky to assume that the same can be applied to a country as diverse and culturally sensitive as India.

The huge brand value and fan following of the IPL has made things worse.

Advertisements of IPL mock cultural stereotypes, instead of promoting the event. A lot of people are sensitive to such depictions, and an even greater number of people enjoy making fun of such people. Soon, it will no longer be about the cricket. As if cheerleaders and popular actors weren’t enough.

In spite of all this, the IPL is still a huge event. It should just take it down a notch. Instead of promoting rivalry among different regions, the focus should be on cricket. If IPL is promoted as a cricket extravaganza rather than a civil war, then everyone will benefit, and we can all go back to watching Chennai win.

 

Share this post
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Does Duncan deserve more?



I’m not sure how many people joined me in raising their eyebrows when Duncan Fletcher was appointed by the BCCI to succeed Gary Kirsten as the coach of the Indian Cricket Team. I’m sure there would have been quite a few though. For all the high standards Gary had set, one would have expected his successor to be of the same level, if not higher. If I remember correctly, Stephen Fleming was the other worthy candidate who was in contention for the post.

Fletcher for another year?

Fleming vs. Duncan

In my opinion, Fleming would have won the battle any day. The man has a cool Kirsten-like-demeanour, which is quite necessary, especially when you are facing the Indian media after losing eight consecutive Test matches. He has also worked wonders with Dhoni for their IPL franchise. So there is bound to be good captain-coach coziness, which again is essential if MS Dhoni is your captain. And ironically, Fleming’s positives were Fletcher’s negatives. During his tenure as the coach of England Fletcher had problems with the English media – I don’t think he realized that their Indian counterparts are much worse. And in that same tenure, he is also believed to have had occasional spats with Michael Vaughan. Let’s not talk about the comparison with Dhoni.

 

Fleming was always going to be the perfect choice. But surprise, surprise! The BCCI had a trick up their sleeve – or atleast that’s what it seemed like. Fletcher got the job. The rest is history. India lost everything they had to savour on the cricket field. Surprisingly, the team-bashers (or more specifically the Dhoni-bashers) have a soft corner for Duncan. And it’s not just them, it’s the BCCI too. On 15th March, the BCCI decided to extend Fletcher’s contract by one hear. Completely unexpected. The reason given was that the younger players have a lot of respect for him. More like the granddad kind of respect? We don’t know. Here is a man who doesn’t laugh, doesn’t talk and doesn’t win matches. How did he manage to keep his place? Surely Gary Kirsten himself would have liked to have a better successor, if not a more inspiring one.

India needs another coach like Gary Kirsten. An active one, who inspires the team, instills confidence and of course, one who laughs a bit. No offence! But the BCCI needs to take some stern actions with respect to coaching staff. If not to the heights of the Australian coach, atleast someone half as stubborn would do for now.

Share this post
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather