India news April 27, 2011

'Methodical' Fletcher backed to succeed


John Buchanan, the former Australia coach, believes Duncan Fletcher's vast coaching experience equips him ideally for the task of coaching India - perhaps even better than his predecessor, Gary Kirsten.

Fletcher and Buchanan sparred often as the rival coaches of England and Australia, and the Zimbabwean's appointment to replace Kirsten grants him the opportunity to shoot for the kind of sustained spell at the top of the world rankings that he was unable to achieve with the ECB.

Speaking to ESPNcricinfo as he prepares to take up his new post as New Zealand's director of coaching, Buchanan said Fletcher's similarities to Kirsten, who he coached at Western Province, were allied to a lengthy record of coaching achievement.

"He's obviously got a pretty good track record on the international and county circuits, and he's got a pretty wide range of coaching experience," Buchanan said. "He shares some similarities to Gary Kirsten and that obviously is something India would like to maintain, but he also has had greater experience, which should be useful for the phase the Indian team are about to enter into."

This phase includes tours to England and Australia - Fletcher is unlikely to be in place for the West Indies trip that precedes them - and managing the task of regenerating an ageing team. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman cannot go on for too much longer, while the pace spearhead Zaheer Khan is also reaching the latter stages of his career.

"Ahead of him certainly will be the opportunity to sustain the success the Indian team have had up to and including the World Cup," Buchanan said. "One of the features of that Australian team from the late 1990s through to 2007 was high performance maintained for a long period of time even as a number of players were turned over, and that will be India's quest now."

As the England coach, Fletcher was known for seeking every possible advantage over his opponents, whether it was resorting to defensive extremes when trying to curtail a rampant Tendulkar in 2001, or using substitute fielders to keep his pacemen fresh and drive Ricky Ponting to distraction during the 2005 Ashes series. He also made sure he kept his distance from opponents and public alike.

"I wouldn't say Duncan and I were ever very close," Buchanan said. "He could be a brusque character, he had great competitiveness, which could be seen as keeping to himself at times, you're in the heat of battle and so the opportunities to get to know each other can be scarce."

The distance between Fletcher and his rivals contrasted with the closeness he exhibited to his team, the privileged few to know the "real" man. "Knowing a a number of people who worked closely with him they really enjoyed his methods and his style and the majority were generally pretty happy in how they worked together," Buchanan said, who worked with Troy Cooley after he left England to return to Australia in 2006.

"In that position if you try to be popular you don't last too long, you need to establish your way and hope that the players and the staff and administration of that team or country buy into what you bring."

Another man expecting Fletcher to succeed in his India stint was England under-19 coach Tim Boon, who has worked alongside Fletcher between 2001 and 2005 with the England team. Boon says Fletcher will be "at his best" for India. Though Fletcher is 18 years older than India's outgoing coach Kirsten, Boon said age would not be a factor. "What you need to remember is that Gary Kirsten played under Duncan Fletcher. Duncan's experience will far outweigh issues of how old he is. He is strong and fit for his age, he will be involved in all the drills on the training ground, he is very a tough character."

Fletcher had spend four years since leaving the England job, working in an independent coaching consultancy in Cape Town and Boon said, "He's had a rest since his last international job. This gives you enough time to look back and reflect on your work. You are at your best stage as a coach, John Wright is the same with New Zealand now. Duncan will be ready for the job."

Boon said overall Fletcher was "methodical" and an excellent technical coach who did very well working one-on-one with players. "He is very good at identifying talent, which is how an Ashes team was put together in 2005." Boon said he found Fletcher the "best off the field captain" with whom team leaders could discuss tactics and the problems of various match situations. "It is his experience that Dhoni will tap into and be able to sit and talk through with him."

As for the demands of coaching India, Boon said, "Fletcher is very resourceful and mentally very tough. He has an enormous amount of respect for cricketers in the sub-continent, particularly the Indians. He will look at the India job as a challenge he would want to have a go at, and a fantastic honour, it could be the final chapter in the story of his international coaching career."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo; Sharda Ugra is a senior editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on April 28, 2011, 12:25 GMT

    Fletcher comes to me as too old. Gary was near perfect guy to coach India. I am not sure his tactics would go down well with the seniors. Let's hope for the best, anyway. Yeah, youngsters may be would gain by this appointment and this is what Indian Cricket team needs at present. His stint with English Team was good as far Test is Concerned but in ODI He couldn't do much. ATB . Hope he unearths some raw talent from India specially a fast bowling allrounder.

  • Senthil on April 28, 2011, 12:18 GMT

    If Fletcher tries to usurp Dhoni, he will get kicked out. Dhoni is THE man for leading India. Fletcher's job will be to support Dhoni, and give him what he wants, in much the same way as Kirsten did with aplomb. This is not to insult Fletcher, it is to ensure there is harmony in a unit that has already climbed pretty high. Duncan Fletcher is taking over a team on a high, so he should not create any unwanted challenges for himself or the team.

  • Alex on April 28, 2011, 11:01 GMT

    For me if Fletcher can calm down sehwag and make him score 400 run in an inning and 200 in ODI. he will succeed. Key for Success in India is Indian batsman has to make satatistical record. Indians do not mind win or lose. It is the culture. Indian society as suck want statistical milestones from Batting. They do not care about bowling as much. Good bowling means winning. Winning is secondary to BATTING RECORDS.

  • Rajagopalan on April 28, 2011, 10:49 GMT

    It is inevitable that India will not have the services of Laxman, Dravid and Tendulkar for ever. A technically sound coach like Fletcher will bring in immense expertise in ensuring that India has right set of batsmen to fill the void when Laxi, Dravid and Sachin retires.

  • Pankaj on April 28, 2011, 10:14 GMT

    It is too early for the so called arm chair experts to take a call on Duncan Fletcher. He was a fairly successful coach and I feel should be given a chance to succeed. There is no reason to imaging that he would not be a success. One more thing - most of the people who have made a post opposing his appointment are from Bengal. Come on, now that Dada is no longer in team, why oppose everything including yourself. Leave your argumentative nature for once, please !

  • Raghvendra on April 28, 2011, 9:51 GMT

    Where is ATUL SHARMA the worlds fastest bowler????

  • Kunjan on April 28, 2011, 6:29 GMT

    Nobody can say whether its right decision or wrong...time will decide that....and pleasae dont start comparing him with kirsten...both r of different teaching style n different methods...who knows this decision might turn into india's favour......we all know what kirsten did was great and that will not be repeated easily...but without knowing duncan fletcher one cannot start comparing n criticising.....the best thing he did during england's job....he regained ASHES...

  • Ashok on April 28, 2011, 5:46 GMT

    I feel comfortable with Fletcher as he is a low profile / high performance coach. When looking at the next two years, I expect Dravid & Sachin to retire by 2013. Laxman will also go by 2014. Who will fill the vacancies. I think Yuvraj can claim one spot and the others will be a contest between Purjara, Raina, Virat Koli and Rohit Sharma. Dutchy's comment about moving Dhoni to No.6 is a valid one. I just hope Irfam Pathan can get back into the team as a reliable all rounder. He would fit the role of No.7 perfectly and add that extra strength to the bowling attack as long as he keeps fit and gets wickets. He has done well in Australia on both his tours.

  • Dummy4 on April 28, 2011, 5:03 GMT

    Fletcher appointment came asa shock to me.Without any prior notice & conferences they suddenly named hm as the wrecker in chief.Frankly speakin, India doesnt need someone who is high profile.They need a young, dynamic coach who will never try to hog the limelight.Always be the second man to Dhoni.Should be fit,as he has to give lots of "THROWDOWN" to SACHIN.Adjust to indian conditions well, should share a good relation with the reporters.Be down to earth.After all,you dont need to teach SACHIN the sraight or cover drive, how to play the DUSRA.....He has mastered it.We need someone who is a very good team man.Like Stephen Fleming,nor someone like Greg Chappel or frankly a shrewd stragist like Duncun Flether.Best of luck Flether.This is the most high profile job, & shold be handled with utmost care.

  • Glenn on April 28, 2011, 1:53 GMT

    Sorry, This is a retrograde step - Fletcher did not achieve very much with England and is too old school for India. Perhaps Tom Moody, a very successful coach with Sri Lanka, would have been much the better choice. Anyway now that the choice is made all luck to Fletcher and the Indian team - as Leander Paes said after winning his first Grand Slam with Bhupathi - "winning the first one is great, now we need to dominate" - ditto for Team India

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