England v India, 5th Investec Test, The Oval, 1st day August 15, 2014

No panic over India catching - Penney

You hardly get to know how and in what ways India's support staff work. You don't know what they think of their charges. They are not allowed to interact with the media and the only time you might get to speak to fielding coach Trevor Penney or bowling coach Joe Dawes or head coach Duncan Fletcher is when the team has had an awful day in the field, and no player is willing to attend the post-play press conference. You can understand the coaches can't really say their players are no good, but during the odd times that you speak to Dawes or Penney, you don't get to see their heads. They are usually in the sand.

Dawes once said Zaheer Khan was at the best of his fitness when he was struggling to take a start at short fine leg. A dropped slip catch - a regular occurrence with India - turned this series on its head but Dawes said even Mark Waugh and Mark Taylor dropped catches. Hopefully the Marks are not reading this. They might send a legal notice to Dawes when he goes back to Queensland. And now that India were left with no one to attend the press conference after the performance at The Oval, Penney was put up, to say he has no issues with the technique and temperament of the India slip fielders.

However, there was one important admission. And you, at first slip - it is not good news for you. Penney admitted that MS Dhoni won't be going for too many catches between him and first slip. It has been an issue with the India team over the years but it has now become almost embarrassing to see. Penney didn't speak of any niggle that might be preventing Dhoni from going for those catches, but you are not allowed follow-up questions in India's press conferences.

"MS obviously is one of those keepers that maybe lets the first slip take the catch so we work on that," Penney said. "It's no issue as long as the first slip understands that MS might not go across."

When told that it didn't seem apparent to the first slip, Penney said: "Yeah, we are working on it."

You will sympathise with Penney because he has had to chop and change the cordon more often than he would want to in his worst nightmares. Some have not been good there, others have been dropped. "It is always difficult because you want to keep your slip cordon the same throughout the series but with people being dropped and left out of the side you have got to practise with the other guys and do different combinations," Penney said. "We have caught quite a few, and we have dropped a couple as well. England even dropped a few today. It is one of those things. It is not the easiest catch in the world in the slips, and there are going to be catches dropped. We practise with all different combinations, and it is according to selection."

For the record, England dropped one catch today.

Penney said, however, that he saw no reason to panic. "It is something we talk about all the time," he said. "We are happy with all the techniques. There are going to be dropped catches in cricket. There haven't been that many that we will start panicking and stuff like that. No."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mandesh on August 16, 2014, 8:28 GMT

    Penny is conveniently forgetting that the dropped catch by Jadeja has been a game changer. This dropped catch has not only changed the series but has revived Cook, where all the ex-English players were braying for his blood, have started praising him. Slips is a specialist job. I remember in the olden days India used to keep the weakest fielder in the slips, his job was just to stop the ball and not expected to take catches. This current team looks like they have gone back to those days after Dravid & Laxman has retired.

  • Suj on August 16, 2014, 7:52 GMT

    A dropped catch in a T20 game can never have the kind of effect a dropped catch can have over a 5 match test series. In other words, Jadeja's dropped catch of a completely out of form Cook. The series was balanced in India's favour back then but it now seems like decades ago!

  • R on August 16, 2014, 7:41 GMT

    The Indian team clearly needs a new coaching team. Fletcher inherited atean that was no. in rankings and it has been downhill all the way. The problem is not in the ability but in the fact that the same mistakes are repeated.Selection issues are also persistent - some players get a million chances and others are discarded after a couple of failiures. Have we seen any innovatives attempts ? In 2006, India had a bad time in SA and asked Dinesh Kartik to open - a strategy that paid off in the subsequent tour to Enland when India won. If Dhoni is not keeping well, why not ask Nam Ojha to keep and play Dhoni as a pure batsman? With Fletcher & Co, we see the same things that do not work.

  • sam on August 16, 2014, 7:05 GMT

    What is apparent is the fact that the bowling, fielding and batting coaches are rubbish. Otherwise why haven't they been changed in the last 3-4 years?

  • ashok on August 15, 2014, 23:37 GMT

    You cant do much with a foreign coach, get some good Indian guy on it... we need a good bowling coach to help the pacers...

  • Sunil on August 15, 2014, 21:16 GMT

    Wonder what @Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist thinks of Pujara now.

  • Bunnie on August 15, 2014, 21:08 GMT

    Penney and fielding coaches in general add no value. India have not improved one iota for the last 50 years in fielding. They are good only when things are going for them and awful when the chips are down.

  • Dheeban on August 15, 2014, 20:58 GMT

    I tell you what they are trying to do, Mr. Monga. They are trying to be supportive of the team and help them get out of the rut. Don't expect them to diss the players in public. They and some supporting fans understand that winning and losing is part of the game (including huge losses and mega wins). Not everyone undergoes a melt-down like some fans and media writers. Everybody better come to terms with a team winning, losing and oscillating in between. I certainly don't remember India being consistent world-beaters in the past. It's all par for the course. Balanced criticism is always welcome, but total melt-downs and rants are only going to affect those feeling that way even more and won't change the results either. If India puts up a great fight and saves this series, it would be great. If not, they could go back and work on improving it (including the cricket system in the country as a whole). It is sports. It is a constantly ebbing and flowing cycle.

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