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BCCI officials ramp up pressure on Fletcher

Nagraj Gollapudi

August 19, 2014

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Duncan Fletcher observes proceedings during nets, The Oval, August 13, 2014
Duncan Fletcher will not be very involved with the Indian team during the ODIs against England © AFP
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Duncan Fletcher is on notice, and will be assessed on his performance each series. That's the message to India's coach from the BCCI, though what is also clear is that Fletcher will have little part to play in the ODI series in England, with Ravi Shastri being given charge of all cricket-related activities.

The decision to clip Fletcher's wings, by effectively replacing his two assistant coaches with three from the BCCI's stable, and by putting Shastri above him, is believed to stem from the anger and disappointment of India's astonishing capitulation from a winning position in the Test series to eventually lose 3-1.

A senior BCCI official, who was privy to the discussions, said Shastri would be the go-to man for all "cricket-related activities" during the ODI series in England. "Fletcher will be there but for this tour Ravi will look after all cricketing aspects for this ODI series."

Several officials ESPNcricinfo spoke to were unwilling to commit to Fletcher's future but indicated he had been sidelined. More clear is the future of Trevor Penney, the fielding coach, and Joe Dawes, the bowling coach, the feeing in the BCCI being they were not doing their jobs properly.

Fletcher had been the target of severe public criticism through India's 8-0 run of defeats in England and Australia in 2011, but the BCCI stuck by him and renewed his contract for a year this April, with secretary Sanjay Patel saying the board had complete confidence in the coaching staff. Fletcher is now believed to have lost support and the BCCI seems keen on making the point that Tuesday's decision was not an abrupt one, rather the culmination of events over the past few months.

What hurt the BCCI hierarchy most was the manner in which India lost the three Tests in England this summer. It forced them to take notice and act swiftly. "The Indian team is not performing. What went wrong?" Anurag Thakur, the BCCI joint secretary, said. "You need to look at whether it was the coach and support staff, whether it was the selection of the team or there is problem in coordination. So at this stage, when the team for the ODIs has been picked, the best you can do is to have more people engaged who can work closely with the Indian cricket team.

Ranjib Biswal, the IPL chairman and a top board functionary, indicated the positive presence of Shastri would inject the dose of competitive spirit back in the team. "When the team is demoralised you need the someone to lift the morale. Ravi has the experience and he has done it earlier," Biswal said.

According to Thakur, the decision to appoint new coaching staff was taken only on Monday. "The BCCI should take some decision for the betterment of cricket. The selectors can have the autonomy to pick the player. But the only option left with the BCCI was to see how we could help the players and Indian cricket by bringing in these three people.

"What was the need of Ravi Shastri? I felt something was missing - maybe the communication gap between the coach and the players," Thakur said. "A person like Shastri can boost the morale of the team. Nothing wrong in trying in the ODI series when you are doing so badly."

The string of overseas series defeats was becoming unbearable under Fletcher's watch, one senior official said. "Some shake-up was needed. You can't just get blown away for three Tests in a row in less than 40 or 50 overs. Agreed the coaches are as good as the players, but if you are not evoking the same kind of confidence it does not help. The effort is there but if the results are not coming then people will raise questions."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (August 21, 2014, 10:45 GMT)

Batsmen are allowed leeway on many occasions when it has come to cricket starting from the helmet. They now have a variety of shots that was not exactly their not even a few decades ago. By comparison bowlers should have gotten metal spikes on the leather to at least remotely come close to what the batsmen got. But none the less 15 degrees should be the limit given to a bowler, not because of honour, integrity or whatever the medieval codes of chivalry that Mr. Crow seems to be stuck on ( Those went out the door when India decided to rule Cricket with a iron fist with it's two little.....well you know, and everyone excluding two countries voted against it). It's because almost all bowlers can ball their deliveries within that limit, even the doosra (of course most of the time you need to be born with an abnormality like murali). And if a select few chooses to ignore the rule that is followed by everyone then that individual should be penalized for it.

Posted by   on (August 21, 2014, 9:51 GMT)

Like Sri Lanka, India should have played a 2 match series - then they would have like Sri Lanka won 1 - 0. Their mistake demanding a 5 test series, forcing Sri Lanka to play a 2-Test series.

Posted by Arrow011 on (August 21, 2014, 6:16 GMT)

Replace Duncan with Stephen Fleming & Test captain with Ashwin everything will be alright. Dhoni can play as a player in all 3 formats & be the captain of limited overs cricket.

Posted by vasuja52 on (August 21, 2014, 5:31 GMT)

One of the factor that needs to be considered is the weather in UK at this time of the year. The overcast skies and the heavy aire leading to excessive swings and deviations which the English bowler exploited wonderfully. Usually Indian batsment now are used to facing short pitched balls but this freakishweather (which seem to be more frequent when India was batting) made a lot of difference. This may be the only reason to explain why all of our batsment failed to perform.

Posted by Abaa on (August 21, 2014, 4:29 GMT)

" Cpt.Meanster - Remember how poor England are in Indian conditions. The only reason you won 2-1 recently was cause of Panesar and Swann. Your next trip to India won't be a good one. "

So what if England won "only" because of Panesar and Swann? They played for England so weren't they supposed to perform for them? And don't you remember Cook and KP trouncing your bowlers? Even if the series win was a one-man show, it still doesn't make it irrelevant. The point is England has now comprehensively destroyed and dismantled India three times over three series in both English and Indian conditions. End of story. England proved that they can play better than you in your own backyard. And not just a bit better but much much better

Posted by BharatNT2IE on (August 21, 2014, 4:25 GMT)

Oh great! They have changed the staff, for India's strength and England's weakness (ODI's). What is the use of this inconsequential series, in which by form India should be winning this 3-2 or 4-1. Thinking about it India are almost there, in Johanessburg SA were not enthusiastic to go for the target, they dominated SA in the first test. Even here in England they played well till Lords. It is a sign in the right direction. The reason they capitulated is because of top 4 ( barring Vijay), look at the good that came out of the Duncan's time they won the Champions Trophy 2013 and now we have a reliable Bhuvi, Jadeja, Ashwin, we did play well in NZ. Things are Okay, definitely an up in the ODI side. This is sending a wrong message it says " We have a bad coaching staff that is why we lost and will loose the ODI's" rather than " We have a better ODI team, let us see you beat us now".A decision this close to WC 2015, really not a great move.

Posted by   on (August 21, 2014, 4:10 GMT)

@Cpt.Meanster you have to accept that both Eng & Ind are two average teams in current international cricket arena.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (August 21, 2014, 1:05 GMT)

@hhillbumper: Remember how poor England are in Indian conditions. The only reason you won 2-1 recently was cause of Panesar and Swann. Your next trip to India won't be a good one. Jimmy Anderson, that goes doubly for you. Simply put, both teams don't know how to play outside their backyard. So realistically speaking my friend, England haven't gained anything by beating India and India haven't lost anything by losing. It's just history repeating itself.

Posted by IAS2009 on (August 20, 2014, 21:16 GMT)

i am not sure why the Indian batting keep making the same mistakes over and over, Fletcher should be able to mould this batting line for better, top 5 batsmen could not handle the moving ball outside the off stump. It is not easy to play in England but India batting flaws were exposed for a very long period of time. Maybe India need an Indian coach. I don't think changing players will do any good these players are there for a while but need to be improving, when India lost 8-0 against Eng and Aus their top batsmen were in the team and they still lost pretty badly, not sure why anyone is surprised from the performance with players with lot less experience.

Posted by hhillbumper on (August 20, 2014, 20:33 GMT)

to all you indian fans saying they should play county cricket. Seriously after the way you have played in the series over here what county would pay money. You are terrible outside of Asia. The only good one was Dravid and Srinath.

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