Dravid wants more powers for Fletcher
Rahul Dravid has called for giving more powers to India coach Duncan Fletcher, and for the role of the national coach to be made more hands-on and accountable. Fletcher, he says, has a lot to offer Indian cricket and needs to be more involved in team selection.
"Duncan has a lot of strengths as a coach," Dravid said on Time Out, ESPNcricinfo's fortnightly audio podcast, which will be featured on Wednesday, November 14. "He connects well with a lot of the players and works quite well with them. But, in some ways, the scope or power that he has to make decisions or to make selections has been a little limited."
Dravid pointed out that India's earlier overseas coaches had played a more active role in team composition, a practice that changed in the Gary Kirsten era. "I remember John Wright or Greg Chappell consistently attending selection committee meetings, watching domestic matches. I think over the last three-four years we've seen that coaches have taken a slightly more detached, or slightly more backward, role to our selections. I don't think Gary watched a lot of domestic cricket. Duncan has not really done that as well."
After the retirement of VVS Laxman and Dravid, India are looking to fill two spots in the middle order and Dravid said Fletcher's knowledge would be of great help in finding the answer. "He's seen a lot of players… who's a better middle-order player among Manoj Tiwary, an Ajinkya Rahane or a Shikhar Dhawan or Murali Vijay? At least, to have an opinion, an informed opinion by actually coming and watching some games…The fact that he didn't come and didn't attend the selection committee meeting tells you that maybe that's not in his scope of work, he doesn't have those powers."
Dravid said that giving Fletcher an active role in selection meetings would be important. "You want to give people powers and you want to hold them accountable, especially when you have senior, knowledgeable people like Duncan." Conceding that he was not aware of Fletcher's own opinion on the subject, Dravid said, "I think his reputation is on the line as well. I think, knowing someone like him, he would want to get more involved and have a say in where his own career and his own reputation is headed."
A coach like Fletcher, he believed, could easily bridge the gap between being a player's trusted confidante as well as his selector. "Some of these people [coaches] do have the maturity to be able to understand that when players come to them with a problem, they don't necessarily use that as a way to drop someone. But also the coach sees players from such close quarters, he understands players. So I think he [Fletcher] must have a say [in selection]."
Dravid said Fletcher had put greater emphasis on fitness after India's losses overseas and hoped that would reflect in the forthcoming season. "Definitely after the loss, he has put a lot of emphasis on the fitness and certain disciplines of the players and knowing and talking to maybe some of them. Over the last few months, there has been a little bit more focus on fitness and disciplines and the basics in skill levels of some players. Hopefully we'll see some of that in these Test series."
Fletcher got the India job on the recommendation of his predecessor Kirsten and Dravid said both men had strengths but were not similar coaches. "Gary was a terrific coach, a really good man-manager, very hardworking person who led with example in a lot of ways in the way he worked. Duncan, obviously because of an age difference, maybe doesn't have that personal connect with some of the players. Or the level of conversations that he can have with some of the guys are maybe a little different to what Gary could have had because he played with some of them.
"But, I think, Duncan has a lot to offer in terms of a coach, in terms of the tactics, his knowledge of the game, he works well in that area, he works quite closely with a lot of players... I think the relationship is good within the team."
Fletcher, he said, would eventually be judged by his results. "The results haven't been great in the last one year. That's why these questions are being raised."