England v India, 1st ODI, Bristol August 24, 2014

Duncan Fletcher is still the boss - Dhoni


MS Dhoni has said Duncan Fletcher will be India's coach at the World Cup, and that he is still "the boss". Speaking ahead of the first ODI against England, he did not sound too thrilled about the decision to send fielding and bowling coaches, Trevor Penney and Joe Dawes, on "leave", although he did welcome Ravi Shastri's presence as team director.

When asked if he felt bad for Fletcher, and if he sees him going to Australia, Dhoni's response was emphatic. "Definitely he will lead us into the World Cup," Dhoni said. "Also he is still the boss. We have Ravi [Shastri] who will look into everything, but Duncan Fletcher is the boss. It's not as if his powers or his position have been curtailed. I don't know what you feel from outside, but still operations remain the same. We have a few other support staff who come into the dressing room, but overall the operation remains the same."

What about the decision to bring in new support staff and the timing of it, then? "Some things just [happen] this way," Dhoni said. "It's a bit tough on Trevor [fielding coach] and Joey [bowling coach], I know. Especially when fielders drop catches and the fielding coach has to miss the series.

"But let's hope for the best. We are welcoming the new guys because that is very important. They will be part of the dressing-room family as of now. We will have to give them some time to adjust to how we operate, and see what kind of input they bring to the table."

On Diwali day in 2009, no such concern was shown for Venkatesh Prasad and Robin Singh, the bowling and fielding coaches who were sacked unceremoniously.

Dhoni did suggest the new team director, Shastri, will be good for the side. "He is here to oversee the operations," Dhoni said. "From the outside, what he feels and everything. It's good to have him. The reason being he is a very proud India cricketer, and at the same time very positive. He believes a lot in fighting and having the right instincts, going over and giving his 100%. It is obviously good to have him. He also speaks the same language, and can interact a lot with the players. Same is the case with other people, so it is good to have them."

Shivlal Yadav, the interim BCCI president for non-IPL affairs, said that Fletcher's contract ran till the World Cup but a decision would be taken before the home series against West Indies in October. "I haven't heard exactly what Dhoni stated, but he must have meant that Fletcher's contract is till the February-March World Cup. That's the factual position," he told the Kolkata Telegraph. "The Board, however, hasn't taken any decision on the head coach and other members of the support staff beyond the ongoing tour of England. This, too, is the factual position. There's time before the next series, against West Indies, and the Board's AGM will take a call."

Dhoni refused to say if he had been consulted before the changes were made. It was a bizarre press conference - even by his standards - before the start of the series. He began all right, but then stopped taking questions about the support staff saying he wanted to talk about the next match, and then refused to talk about Rohit Sharma's role as an opener in ODIs.

The ball has lost colour, kits have assumed it; back lifts have gone higher, bat swings faster; India are looking more at home trying to hit everything out of the ground at the nets, but massive uncertainty remains around them what with radical changes brought about to the caching staff. Imposed, more like, it sounded from Dhoni's press conference.

Shastri was pretty active on his first day on the field as a team director. He had had one formal team meeting already, and a few one-on-one chats. On Sunday, he had a long and animated chat with Dhoni and Flecther next to the pitch. Both Shastri and Fletcher kept twirling their right wrist, as a legspinner would. It seemed to be a debate around Karn Sharma. Dhoni, as usual, gave away little through facial reaction or hand gestures.

Later, during the nets session, Shastri had a point to make to Shikhar Dhawan, who has had an ordinary Test series but will be back as ODI opener. Fletcher immediately joined in, and the two went away to have another long discussion. After Dhawan was done with his stint, Shastri had another chat with him. He did the same with Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina. Bharat Arun slipped into Dawes' role, R Sridhar into Penney's, and Sanjay Bangar mostly gave throwdowns to the batsmen.

August 26, 2014 08:15 GMT: This piece has been updated with Shivlal Yadav's quotes

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • jacob on August 26, 2014, 20:44 GMT

    since 27 years I am watching active Indian test cricket. whole Tendulkar career I did not see India won a test series in Aus or south africa. And the great indian overseas captain ( only few claiming ) ganguly could not win a series in Aus, Eng, SA or NZ so lets wait they had good tour in SA & NZ probably they will improve

    same time i want remain you a team is scoring less AVG T20 score in test cricket and not able to take 20 wickets in both innings can win in a test macthc ?????

  • jacob on August 26, 2014, 20:21 GMT

    one should all ways remember every one is telling MSD was lucky because of ganguly and dravid made good team for him. He was lucky to have viru, dravid,Tendulkar,Laxmaan He won T20 world cup with out all this players, exept viru. Won champions trophy with out any big names. I canot really remember after 1983 world cup india have won a world title till 2003 t20, 2001wcup, 2013cha trophy ipl, cha league , test no.1 position , one day no.1, t20 no.1

    So some one who canot do people say he is lucky. That is called guts, courage

  • Anand on August 26, 2014, 14:44 GMT

    If India lose the 1 day series then both Dhoni and Fletcher should be ready to resign.

  • irish on August 26, 2014, 14:36 GMT

    Yes MSD you are absolutely right Duncan and you, both are boss but only till 2015 World Cup, which I think will be Curtains on your coaching and captaincy careers respectively. Its no point changing and replacing everything 8 months before World Cup. But we can sense it, and deep down inside you also know MSD that your repeated shameful failures as a Test Captain now cant be accepted anymore. But they will stick by you till 2015 WC. Our Team cant be termed as favorites, they are no where close to it. I fear of same humiliation as in 2007 World Cup. After that I feel there will be huge transformation in set up. In fact your time is over MSD, but its just that Official Version of it is delayed by few months.

  • Anil on August 26, 2014, 13:41 GMT

    It is amazing. Older and newer players alike, ousted and inside players alike, from Sachin and Yuvraj to Rahane and Binny, everyone talks positively about and for Fletcher. I do not understand it at all. All these players--former heroes to current hopefuls--know very well that the team's results are spiraling downhill; don't they? Is that not a concern to them? What value is a process when it does not win you matches? How good is a process which does not prepare you to win? Why should one stick to a process when it fails perpetually? Do these players collectively take win-losses very lightly (or, care not at all)? If so, are we fans a worthless bunch who keep screaming aimlessly and pointlessly? Or, is there something that we miss? Certainly this is a big mystery. It's truly baffling. I wish someone explains to me why Fletcher is still the boss and is respected so deeply.

  • RAJARAMAN on August 26, 2014, 13:08 GMT

    Well, the boss is always the BCCI ... with MSD's stand, both him and DF may not be there after the Ind-Eng ODI series ... it all depends on the result now ... a bad show from MSD (personally as well as team) will see him get the sack as BCCI is now keen on maintaining its ego as to who is the BOSS ... bad days ahead for India

  • Shekhar on August 26, 2014, 13:07 GMT

    Director & coach are two separate entities. Coach is to look after technical flaws in the batting or bowling and refine them. A director is there to refine the coaching, to filter players for a particular game and to be a psychological mentor for the player. Hence Director is always a BOSS even if MSD denies so.

  • biju on August 26, 2014, 7:43 GMT

    Totally agree with Siddhant Kharel. Dhoni was only just a lucky man. He got an excellent team from Ganguly & Dravid with star like Yuvi, Sehwag, Zak, Bhaji, etc. Luck is not favouring him right now and his shelf life as captain is over. Above all he had ruined the careers of all above mentioned stars who stand tall above his shoulder with blessings of board bosses, just for the sake of brand MSD.

  • Suraj on August 26, 2014, 6:22 GMT

    Nobody knows who is the real boss! Hence Rahul Dravid & Ajit Agarkar said that it will create more confusions within the team. Some players would be under pressure to hear out Ravi Shastri & some Dhoni which is definitely not good for the team's morale. Fletcher should have been sacked immediately if Ravi Shastri was the real boss and Sanjay Bangar & B Arun were selected by him. I still believe before this series gets over, Fletcher should be sacked.

  • Ravi on August 26, 2014, 6:16 GMT

    Thanks Dhoni.We needed some thing like that from you.. this might be the final nail in the coffin..lets keep our fingers crossed..Hope we get new leader and new coach with some sort of vision..

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