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Is Duncan Fletcher a soft target?

The Indian coach has been roasted after the team's recent below-par performances. But is the criticism fair?

Gaurav Kalra

March 16, 2014

Comments: 108 | Text size: A | A

MS Dhoni has a chat with Duncan Fletcher, Durban, December 7, 2013
Duncan Fletcher: in the eye of the storm, of late © AFP

The headline writers were like kids in a candy store. "ECB reject", "1.5 out of 10", "No achievements" - take your pick. Sunil Gavaskar, the great man himself, was seething with rage.

At the receiving end was a man who wouldn't win a popularity contest if he were the only one participating. Gavaskar's impassioned demand for Duncan Fletcher's immediate sacking has expectedly gained plenty of traction. Patience is running thin after a string of below-par results and India's cricket watching public wants a sacrificial lamb. Now with the endorsement of a legendary voice, Fletcher and his minions have been identified. "Off with their heads," Gavaskar exhorts. "Yes, yes we must," the followers chant excitedly.

On cue, a chain of equally fierce opinion providers jostled for space. Farokh Engineer lowered Gavaskar's 1.5 rating for Fletcher to 0.5. Bishan Bedi described him as a "mercenary". Madan Lal bellowed that even his own record overseas as India coach was better than Fletcher's. The lynch mob was out in force. It is an almost patented Indian formula - once a prominent figure makes a fervent case, jump on the bandwagon and muscle into popular opinion.

There is no debating the central point of Gavaskar's argument. India's record during Fletcher's term has been uninspiring. India began with a series win in the West Indies after Fletcher replaced Gary Kirsten in 2011 but the team has floundered dramatically since, especially in Test cricket.

Starting with the wretched tour of England in 2011, India have lost ten of their 12 overseas Tests and drawn the other two. At home, while Australia and West Indies have been brushed aside, a series was lost to England for the first time in nearly three decades. In one-day cricket, while the Champions Trophy and a few others have been captured, India have been beaten in series in England, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. In the only World T20 under Fletcher's watch, in 2012, the team failed to make the semi-finals.

Clearly, the record stacks up against Fletcher and in favour of Gavaskar's argument. What is surprising, though, is the lack of nuance in Gavaskar's attack. For a man of his eminence to identify Fletcher not just as the villain of the piece but question his hard-earned credentials is poor form. It might win him brownie points with equally irate "fans" but it borders on populism.

Gavaskar described Fletcher as an "ECB reject". Fletcher's term as England coach may have ended after their inglorious exit from the 2007 World Cup but in eight years at the helm he oversaw a pretty special period. England won away series in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, West Indies and South Africa, besides the crowing glory of his reign - a first Ashes win in 18 years. His services, to quote Gavaskar, may have been "dispensed with" but he was no "reject". As India coach, Fletcher may have faltered but was it appropriate to tarnish his body of work simply to embellish an argument?

Once warmed up, Gavaskar was unstoppable. "In Fletcher's tenure, there has hardly been any improvement as a team. There has been no improvement of players individually also," he argued. Now is that really the case? Were India as poor in South Africa and New Zealand as they had been in England and Australia over that wretched 0-8 run in 2011-12? Or were there signs that the men replacing the giants in the middle order were showing the gumption for their task?

It's worth casting a close eye on the individuals who have been under Fletcher's tutelage since he took the India job. Virat Kohli made a shaky Test debut in Fletcher's first series as coach in the West Indies. He is now a much more assured player in whites, having made centuries in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. Is Gavaskar convinced Fletcher has made no contribution to Kohli's evolution as a Test batsman? If Kohli has improved, and he undeniably has by leaps and bounds, has Fletcher perhaps played a minuscule role?

Take Shikhar Dhawan. After a terrible series in South Africa, Dhawan succeeded in turning it around with a century and another near triple-figure score in New Zealand. Were the improved performances down to Dhawan's diligence alone? Was it perhaps possible that Fletcher identified flaws that were responsible for Dhawan's failures in South Africa and helped him iron those out in time for the challenge in New Zealand? After all, that is what coaches are hired to do.

If Fletcher is to lose his job can Dhoni keep his, especially in Test cricket? Or is Fletcher the soft target, conveniently offered up with his head on a platter at this uncomfortable time?

When Gavaskar says, "Fletcher has done nothing", is that an assumption or an informed view? Have these players, or any others for that matter, confided in Gavaskar that the coach has contributed nothing to their progress? If not, was Gavaskar's assertion simply a punchline for a narrative he was determined to push?

With hindsight as an ally, Gavaskar questioned Fletcher's appointment after India's World Cup win in 2011. "His achievements as a cricketer weren't anything incredible. Fletcher never had the credentials of Gary Kirsten or John Wright, who were achievers in international cricket.

"The way things work in India is completely different," Gavaskar said, going on to speak of how Indian teams had had success under former India players. Now any serious cricket follower will endorse that this has become an argument of convenience, routinely strutted out when a coach is to be ousted. Even with the rider that "things work differently in India", does history not provide evidence to the contrary? For all his achievements, was Kapil Dev's term as India coach not staggeringly forgettable? Sri Lanka isn't India's polar opposite culturally, so how does Gavaskar explain the success of Tom Moody and Dav Whatmore as coaches in that country despite moderate international records?

In fact, look around the globe at the moment and one's stature as a former international appears to count for precious little. Darren Lehmann, credited with Australia's thrilling recent resurgence, doesn't own a record that makes jaws drop. After Kirsten's exit, top-ranked South Africa promoted his assistant, Russell Domingo, who had never played a first-class game, let alone a Test. Mike Hesson, another non-Test cricketer, replaced the pedigreed John Wright in the New Zealand job. And under Hesson's watch the Black Caps are not doing too badly for themselves.

By accident or design, Gavaskar's onslaught focuses the spotlight on one individual and diverts attention off others. In the course of his bombast Gavaskar asked, "If Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Harbhajan Singh, all stalwarts of Indian cricket can be dropped on poor form then why not drop support staff for poor performance?" Reasonable you would think, but does Gavaskar hold the same position with regard to the Indian captain?

Surely, if Fletcher is to lose his job, can Dhoni keep his, especially in Test cricket? Does Gavaskar believe a new skipper should be installed when India tour England in July? Surely he is not suggesting the captain sits below the coach in the pecking order, either while receiving accolades or shouldering responsibility? Or is Fletcher the soft target, conveniently offered up with his head on a platter at this uncomfortable time?

Indian cricket functions in the chaos of unshackled opinion. The onus on men such as Sunil Gavaskar is not to fuel angst, but to bring balance to conversations. This is an onerous responsibility and isn't served by convenient outpourings of vitriol at carefully chosen moments. Leaders must provoke thought, not outrage.

Gaurav Kalra is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (March 21, 2014, 8:57 GMT)

Sack him & Dhoni

Make R Sharma the IPL winner the captain & make Kapil or Azharrudin the coach

Azhar was the best tactician on field as he won a lot despite very limited capability team

Posted by   on (March 20, 2014, 19:46 GMT)

Excellent Gaurav. Time & again, specially in tests Dhoni's captaincy has been unimaginative & uninspiring. Mr. Gavaskar never uttered a single word on that, probably to stay on BCCI's good book I suppose.

Posted by Mahesh4811 on (March 18, 2014, 7:29 GMT)

Oh...what a wonderful article! Such kind of intelligent articles make this site ultra-good :) Thank you.

Posted by santoshjohnsamuel on (March 18, 2014, 5:36 GMT)

@Vijay Kinra: why the surprise over the comments? When was the last time that you heard of an Ind team that were good travelers (i.e, to Pak, S Lanka, Eng, Aus, NZ, WI and SA -- it's pretty much of the cricketing world, unless you want to include Zim and Bngldesh) on a consistent basis? There was a period during the captaincy of Ganguly, extending to the period of Dravid, to Kumble's, and to Dhoni's, where we could be considered competitive; not champions, but very very scrappy -- and that was good enough for us. Considering the fact that we've been in the game almost since its inception, have had at least a few champion batsmen who would walk into a World 11 (or 15), a great tradition of spin bowling, and at least one champion paceman, twice WC winners and, most of all, our general madness for the game, is it too much to expect that we have a good Test side in all conditions? Fletcher is just a side story, and not an old one at that.

Posted by satzzz on (March 18, 2014, 3:09 GMT)

If you can take Kohli's success in international cricket as a success because of DC, how will you rate DC on Raina's failure(who was a prime batsman untill then) and mainly the peak performer in all the main away tours or icc tourneys, Gautam Gambhir's set back? He was rock solid in all the important matches won by India. Because of him, we were able to score well in both both world cup finals that we won. Because of him, we won many tall chases. Along with him, Virat had grown in confidence. So, he played a role in grooming Virat the chaser he is now. Mainly, because of him, we did so well in overseas tests in New Zealand and South Africa. No denying that. For me, Fletcher had done no good to Indian cricket. His tenure is much like Greg Chappell's. Though India won matches in India, we faired so poorly elsewhere even then. No one can deny the fact that India won back2back series held in India just before the total failure in 2007 WC. I stronly go with Gavaskar's words in this case.

Posted by Ms.Cricket on (March 17, 2014, 22:59 GMT)

India need a hard-nosed coach like Greg Chappell. The "big stars" ruled the roost under Fletcher and the team became complacent. Someone who can make tough decisions like Chappell did to sack Ganguly and push the winning spirit over individual performances is needed at the moment.

Posted by   on (March 17, 2014, 20:17 GMT)

What is wrong with all the comments here? Let's look at the results since Fletcher (and actually Joe Dawes as well) came in:

-Yuvraj, Raina are worse off than before. Raina still can't play the short ball -Our pace bowling is now likely the worst in the world. Bowlers who had some potential like RP Singh, Munaf, Dinda, Nehra are nowhere to be found as they've become worse -The reason we didn't play Mishra and Pujara in NZ and dead rubbers is beyond me. So strategically, Fletcher has failed completely -Our team is #5 in ODIs and #6 in tests. I'm not talking about the official rankings as they lag by about a year. Today India will not reach the semi finals in the world cup -India is doing nothing strategically that is brilliant.

Regarding Dhoni, well, he should not be test captain and likely can't find a place in the test team as a wicketkeeper batsman so we all need to embrace that reality. In ODI Dhoni is a top player and we shouldn't change the capt now. Regarding Fletcher, SACK HIM

Posted by Temuzin on (March 17, 2014, 20:06 GMT)

Gaurav, you are an excellent writer. Good article, well thought out and very balanced. I wish he should have been able to through some light on why Gavaskar targeted Duncan. Even though he hinted on it. Having criticized Dhoni for non selection of some mediocre players like Mishra, Pandey, Tiwari, Binni, and disappointed in Kohli who also did not play these players, Mishra, Pandey, Tiwari, Binni fan gang has tried to put pressure on Duncan by calling his head? Look at the timing of the criticism. It smacks a lot of internal politics. Proof? Gavaskar and all bombay ex's were all about praising rohit Sharma even when he was averaging in single digits and now Dhoni is being criticized for keeping Rohit in the team.

Posted by thinkgood on (March 17, 2014, 18:01 GMT)

Correct. Fletcher taking over the mantle from Gary Kristen was expected to out perform his predecessor. It is very unfair. He is taking the rap which are meant for team selection panel and Indian players to win abroad. Fletcher has not used the proverbial whip on the players yet - may be his hands are tied. Should he do that as he did with the ECB, then he would get some results out of this IPL pampered team. Also Indian administrators must be wary of bringing in another autocratic coach like Greg Chappell. This could be another reason for Fletcher being gentle with the team of youngsters as Indian team stands now.

Posted by AnshulP on (March 17, 2014, 13:57 GMT)

Agree with you Gaurav. A well written, thought provoking piece. The mad rush to grab more eyeballs is obviously the reason why popular media is in such a hurry to fuel heated debates, and not stop to ask the questions that matter. Look forward to your contributions here - I think the written medium agrees more with you than live television :)

Posted by Coolcapricorn on (March 17, 2014, 13:57 GMT)

As we know, Duncan Fletcher has very limited or no powers at all in terms of squad or team selection - so how can be held culpable over our pathetic performances abroad over the past few years? The problem clearly lies instead with poor Test captaincy by MSD, poor selection policies & a culture of sycophancy whereby non-performing star players can stay in the team for a long time as they know the selectors daren't have the courage to drop them. Even when a promising player like say Ishwar Pandey gets chosen in a squad, it is still almost impossible for him to break into the first eleven - even in a dead rubber match or even when the team in on a losing streak. In other countries, drastic action is taken & heads do roll when just one series is lost badly but in India, we just conveniently brush things under the carpet so to speak & keep on repeating the same old mistakes! DF just makes an easy & expedient scapegoat!

Posted by android_user on (March 17, 2014, 13:51 GMT)

We'd rather lose in England with Kohli as captain and attack consisting of Shami, Yadav, Bhuvneshwar/Pandey/Aaron, Jadeja/Mishra rather than having a proven overseas failure in Dhoni as captain and innocuous bowlers such as Ishant, Zaheer and Ashwin.

Posted by android_user on (March 17, 2014, 13:46 GMT)

I hope even a win in world T20 doesn't deter the selectors from axing Dhoni from tests. On turning pitches in Bangladesh with 3 spinners who are seasoned T20 players we should in fact be favorites and Dhoni's poor captaincy may be hidden in conditions which favor India.

Posted by inswing on (March 17, 2014, 13:41 GMT)

You can't really argue that any improvement in any player is due to Fletcher, but such a terrible record of the team has nothing to with him. If this record as a coach isn't enough to get you fired as a coach, nothing is. Dhoni is also at fault, but that does not somehow absolve Fletcher. It is not a matter of foreign vs. domestic coach, whether any foreign coach has done well with any country, how good a player the coach was. All of that is irrelevant. The team has done very badly, and not for one match or one series. The coach is a target because he should be.

Posted by   on (March 17, 2014, 12:13 GMT)

Witth luck it could have been 1-1 and beaten NZ and yes Australia would have whitewashed India in India and South Africa would have won 2011 WC and pigs have wings.Its stupid to make an argument on such Lines.What Mr Kalra surmises is bang on.No one is prepared to address the elephant in the room that is Dhoni and hence Fletcher as rightly pointed out is an easy target.Matter of fact is the perfomances have been pathetic barring 2 series Aus and WI both at home and its time to change the setup a bit.

Posted by   on (March 17, 2014, 11:50 GMT)

Bowlers win matches; especially test matches. Our bowlers have performed bad in test matches abroad. There is no second opinion about it.

The right question is: Is Indian cricket investing its energy on correct players? Ishant Sharma continues to bewilder. Zaheer Khan has lost considerable pace.

R Ashwin forgets wicket taking skills the moment he lands outside sub-continent in whites.

A coach can't play on behalf of players. Also, we don't know how much authority coach has in running team's day to day operations?

We don't know BCCI vision on cricket for next 3-5 years. We don't know why Dhoni continues to lead in all 3 formats and doesn't share burden of captaincy?

I see all problems culminating in BCCI. The coach is a soft target indeed.

Posted by willsrustynuts on (March 17, 2014, 11:35 GMT)

How many whitewashes does Dhoni have to oversee before you accept that the problem is on the pitch?

Posted by amar_rdy on (March 17, 2014, 10:46 GMT)

Very true and rightly said Gaurav. I liked your last statement "Leaders must provoke thought, not outrage"

Why Gavaskar is taking on Fletcher... is coach responsible for loosing all test matches? is he the one who had played in the playing 11? is he the one who captained all the loosing matches ?

When the whole team is responsible for poor performance it is not correct to point finger at one individual.

When you say Fletcher to be removed why not Dhoni?

Posted by android_user on (March 17, 2014, 10:32 GMT)

After all these results i don't know why people still supporting Duncan. He is a utter waste. he will not involve in players practice, doesn't plan anything against opposite teams best batsman, doesn't know what to do when team is doing badly at the pitch. sack him as soon as possible.

Posted by DingDong420 on (March 17, 2014, 10:25 GMT)

you can only judge by results, as results are no good

Posted by StewIndia on (March 17, 2014, 8:55 GMT)

Yes, what Gavaskar has said is a load of nonsense. Bishen Singh Bedi will always be negative and Madan Lal probably hopes he will become coach again. The truth is that you have to judge a coach also by how good his team is. If you look at those overseas defeats, most of them came with a different team that featured Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, Sehwag and Gambir, all of whom are gone. They lost 10 games. If you look at recent performances, India ran both SA and New Zealand close in the test matches. With a little luck and some slightly better performances, we could have been 1-1 in SA and beaten NZ. Look at the batting, none of these people, not even Kohli were around 2-3 years ago. Its a brand new, inexperienced batting line up. The same with the bowling with Ishant being a non performer and Zaheer on his last legs, the fast bowlers are brand new. As for Ashwin, he performed well in the Asia Cup (despite the criticism of his action).

Posted by   on (March 17, 2014, 8:26 GMT)

Dhoni is the culprit for his defensive mind set he should go..

Posted by andfo82 on (March 17, 2014, 7:58 GMT)

Fletcher and Gavaskar have history remember. SG called England boring etc in 2001 and Fletcher replied by saying, 'it's sad when a fine wine turns sour'. So Gavaskar is having his turn to stick the boot in. India's problems overseas are down to the fact their bowling, particularly pace bowling isn't good enough. Which in turn puts more pressure on the batsmen.

Posted by   on (March 17, 2014, 7:21 GMT)

Indian Players don't need any coach.. they do not follow any instructions from the coach...Even no body is bother to go for Practice session...instead they went for Ad Shoot more happily...

Posted by Nanum on (March 17, 2014, 7:00 GMT)

Whaaat? After having overseen Ashwin transform from RH-offspin to RH-WhatTheHell, Ishant's continuing troubles, India's tryst with the short ball and the string of losses picked-up under his tenure, Fletcher is a soft target? You cannot credit Fletcher for the guts of India's batting brigade (come on, Kohli never had any mental toughness issues, neither did Pujara; Dhawan.. iffy argument at best considering his current form), without slamming him for results that followed. Dhoni himself is getting away with a lot because there doesn't seem to be a replacement ready, but Fletcher is certainly dispensable.

Posted by santoshjohnsamuel on (March 17, 2014, 6:54 GMT)

Very well said Gaurav, and a huge round of applause for having shown the guts to take on Gavaskar's nonsense. Has Fletcher been the problem? No. Our batting in SA and NZ have been proof of that. All the young guns (minus R Sharma) have come of age -- the Guardian (i think) had an article that said Ind's batting would cause headaches for any opposition the next 10 yrs. Is our bowling a worry? Yes; but Fletcher isn't its cause. The BCCI needs to put in place the necessary infrastructure to ensure that we have a continuous stock good 140-plus fast bowlers -- and that's going to take a while to happen. SMG -- huge respect for what he did for Ind batting -- is barking up the wrong tree and playing to the gallery; would have made sense if he had directed his ire at the BCCI. Not very practical though -- in a couple of weeks he and Shastri will be off to sing praises of the IPL circus, and earn their crores. Want to win abroad? A quality pace attack is the key. Not exactly rocket science.

Posted by   on (March 17, 2014, 6:33 GMT)

yes,Fletcher is soft target,I think Dhoni is main culprit, as he enjoyed free hand in every matter relating to Indian cricket, and now his team is not performing well,he should own responsibility,what is lacking is perfesional approch,every body is playing for self . even the easier matches are made tight and then try to become hero every individual.every body knows importance of rotation of strike,in onedayers & T20.but nobody is doing that,instead so much of dot balls are being played.

Posted by Arslan_Javed on (March 17, 2014, 6:12 GMT)

Problem with BCCI seems to be with its bureaucratic Staff who dont give free hand to the staff that are in front including Coach. They may have best coaches but then more complicated politics starts . liking, disliking, quota , region, clubs . Having or at least claiming best ever bating line ups with 4-5 persons with 50+ averages but never show records like 80's West indies or 90's onwards Australians. You need quality bowlers which you never had in bunch yes few here and there .

Posted by nithinadoor on (March 17, 2014, 5:01 GMT)

If i am not wrong i never heard Kohli crediting the coach.In Kohli's case we are not sure about Duncan's involvement.Suppose if Duncan's contributions are there in Kohli's case what about Raina?Every body knows his problems against short bowling, but sees no improvements till.Heard news about Ashwin going back to his childhood coach for bowling tips or some other help.As Dhawan's above said improvement happened with in a short period ,may be the coach's is there.When Sehwag came back to the indian team against Australia with that 150,he credited Kristen for his improvement .That time Kirsten was only going to take over as India's coach.Also i heard Gambhir's crediting Kristen for his improvements also.I am not supporting Gavaskar for his comments also not supporting Dhoni to lead India in tests as his tactics are not found as sharp as that in shorter versions of the game.

Posted by bhusaranga on (March 17, 2014, 5:01 GMT)

It is a complete failure from all front. - Players : All players struggle to play short pitched ball. Baring few, most of them lack in temperament and knowledge to acknowledge the moment of game. Raina, Rohit, Dhawan, Jadeja and story continues ... Look at S Waugh, Even he had not best of skill to play short ball, look at his temperament to turn the game. - Coach : This probably is very sad. It is very hard to understand the role he plays. There is no tactical plan at all. BCCI : If you want to win overseas, plan well. But money is not bigger than win. Selection Panel: Lot of people getting chance for nothing and there are plenty just shutting down future as dark.

Hopefully glory will back.

Posted by espncricinfomobile on (March 17, 2014, 4:49 GMT)

wt is the duncan track record as a england coach two ashes series clean sweep, now india time we lost two clean sweep against england nd Australia respectively still author supporting duncan why,, Indian bowling become pathetic nd worse then past, fielding is not good even fresh legs hav been thr in the team, Indian team become worse then past,,

Posted by android_user on (March 17, 2014, 3:58 GMT)

gaurav this is an excellent piece..thought provoking....questions raised by you brings us 2 d ground reality....y fletcher...y not dhoni. When Gavaskar speaks it does have an impact on BCCI but i wonder a legend like him hasn't said a single word about Dhoni.

Posted by class9ryan on (March 17, 2014, 2:24 GMT)

The thing is we do not have bowlers who bowl regularly on wickets like that in England, South Africa or Australia. Likes of Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav should be send to play County Cricket while the IPL is going on. We know how Zak improved after playing the counties. Likes of VVS, Rahul, Anil, Harbhajan, and SRT all have played county cricket at some point of time. Still remember when Dravid faced Warne playing for Kent and struggled hard but after that he started playing Warne much better. No doubt his records overseas are as good as at home.

Posted by CricketLifer on (March 17, 2014, 2:23 GMT)

You raise some valid perspective but in the absence of information your claim that Virat and Dhavan improved their games under Fletcher is as much as a guess work as Gawaskar's that "Fletcher has not done anything". I have lived in America for last 30 years and coaching here - in any sport - is much more active and visible. The glaring failure I see of coach, selectors and captain are not to make changes in bowling department - one that is completely toothless. Also, when you don't have real wicket takers then you go with 5 bowlers and not 4 but India has insisted to stay with 4 bowlers in any format of the game - even test matches where one is expected to bowl long spells. Even simple thing like seeing so many edges fall short of slip cordon and not adjusting slips to bring them closer is a coaching and captaining failure. This happened so repeatedly in NZ and would actually have been difference in the series. Bottom line, India are not risk takers - play safe is the mantra.

Posted by   on (March 17, 2014, 0:24 GMT)

Fletcher has got responsibility of mentoring young batmans and bowlers . BCCI has acknowledged his experience and tutorship which is good . India cant field two proper pace bowlers leave alone a 3 pacer can one expect any different results ....please breed pacers who are mentally ,physically and technically strong give the coach and captains this basic weapon then lets talk of performance.

Posted by Humdingers on (March 17, 2014, 0:19 GMT)

Gavaskar has every right to criticize the current make up of the team. Seems like he is the only one with enough guts to do it without fear or repercussion. Fletcher may be a good batting coach - but he should not be in charge overall. And without doubt, Dhoni has to move on from the Test team. Our bowling...well that's a whole other discussion.

Posted by dunger.bob on (March 16, 2014, 22:43 GMT)

I'd like to say something about Gavaskars dig at Fletcher's moderate playing record and how that diminishes him as a coach. .. What a load of clap-trap and he's completely and utterly wrong there. The world of sport, all sports, is littered with examples of top players making poor coaches and average players turning out to be brilliant coaches. eg, how many American baseball coaches are former top shelf players? What about their basketball coaches? .. Golf anyone. How about tennis? Soccer, Rugby Union/League. .. Don't bother looking it up. I'll tell you now. Very, very few. .. Playing and coaching are two completely different things. Does a brilliant student necessarily make a brilliant teacher. No, of course not. .. it's such a poor argument it takes away some of Gavaskar's credibility for me. Makes me wonder about the rest of the stuff he's said.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 22:01 GMT)

The author doesnt mention anything on the bowlers front. Agreed Indian bowlers never set records on fire, but i reckon they performed recently under Kiristen etc. I think under Fletcher, we are going in the other direction. And Dhoni's captaincy is becoming more and more defensive, citing inability of bowlers. The coach has to take some blame on the bowlers performance.

Posted by hhillbumper on (March 16, 2014, 21:10 GMT)

I enjoy the lack of criticism that think gets. Frankly with him as captain England are a shoo in to win this summer

Posted by Azfar on (March 16, 2014, 20:50 GMT)

Gaurav, the wider point which has so disappointed the Indian Cricket fan in the last 5 years or so is the way some of the icons we held in the highest regard have chosen not to speak out against the BCCI. And Gavaskar is surely one of the most towering icons of Indian Cricket not just by his deeds on the field but also being a Statesman and an astute thinker of the game. I am extremely disappointed by way he has chosen to back the winning horse (N. Srinivasan) even while some really shady things are going on. A man like him should be surely taking a stand even if it can jeopardize the cushy commentary deal et al with BCCI. I am flabbegasted by the fact that India has lost 10 out of 12 overseas Tests and nothing has changed. England lost the Ashes and it ended the careers of KP, Swann and also Andy Flower but we just brush everything under the carpet..........

Posted by Preedy_The_Master on (March 16, 2014, 20:33 GMT)

I certainly can't understanding the author saying about improvement of just 2-3 players. If that's the rate of improvement then it might take 20 more years for Duncan to build a good side.And why do u have to compare the captain and the coach. Dhoni has proven his credentials over a long period of time and hence deserves more chances(maybe not at Test level,but surely more chances in ODI and T20's), but what has Duncan done to get extended period?

Posted by Azfar on (March 16, 2014, 20:32 GMT)

Gaurav, you have brought out a very valid point. I am the first one to say Duncan Fletcher must go, but as you say, he is just part of the wider malaise. What about the captain, the selectors and BCCI for whom 10 defeats out of 12 abroad don't matter at all.Gaurav, we have to understand where Gavaskar is coming from. He can try to make comments that can rock the boat but he has to make sure that the targets are carefully chosen. He can't really enrage the BCCI which can rock his own boat !! His attack was well timed as Fletcher's term was up for extension. I will still credit him for sticking his neck out (though not fully). In the end BCCI chose to ignore him and all the Cricket fans by extending Fletcher's contract. I think Dhoni is very comfortable with Fletcher. And that is all that matters now even if there are 10 more defeats. BCCI wants all of us to take pride in the fact that 'India is running world Cricket' ! What are 10 defeats compared to that !!

Posted by padhu_chennai on (March 16, 2014, 20:27 GMT)

I think this is not fair enough to point only the coach about failures abroad. They must reinvent someone on the ground and not off the ground. As said by chappell it is time to give Kohli a chance rather than going with the same old story.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 20:18 GMT)

It needs a deep rooted change if they really want to move upwards.Such a massive change has got to be done incrementally so first step should be introspecting what Fletcher and coaching staff have done.India by late have been reluctant to changing team combinations despite of negative results. Dhoni should not be held solely responsible for that.If that is true then Fletcher should be sacked immediately as he cant be a yes man to the captain. If that is not the case then why has Fletcher not suggested Dhoni to make changes ,does he not know the fringe players well enough? does he not watch domestic cricket to pick players for the future.If he is not then he is not doing his job and he has to be sacked.Either case I am convinced Fletcher has to be sacked as Dhoni could be given the extra rope for this mistake as he has won a lot of crucial tournaments as well to back his stay but has not done anything for India

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 19:37 GMT)

Blaming Fletcher for India's loss would be equivalent to KP's ouster from the England set up. Anyone who knows their cricket will tell you what a genius Duncan is. Duncan can only do so much. Here are my 2 cents a) Who selects the playing eleven, why did it take so long for Mishra to be a part of the playing eleven? b) Why don't we look at the players and not the captain. It is very easy to make Fletcher the scapegoat, but it is imperative to look at Dhoni's role in the Indian test side. He does not even deserve his place in the side let alone Test captaincy. c) We do not know how much freedom Duncan has in the Indian set up. Duncan did great things for England, but that was because he was given certain liberty of doing things. Give him the liberty, and if there are no results then hold him accountable.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 19:23 GMT)

Excellent article...delves almost like an advocate pleading a case, and the argument certainly is the winner. As Lincoln wrote to his son's teacher: teach him to follow the bandwagon but to sell his heart to the highest bidder. The article certainly sells itself pretty high on objectivity unlike Gavaskar who wouldn't care for objectivity for all the tea in China.

Posted by B_a_fan_nt_a_fanatic on (March 16, 2014, 18:26 GMT)

Good article Gaurav..At last someone makes some sense. Of late Gavaskar and Shastri are unbearable with their articles and 'expert commentary'. Mute is my favorite button now on the remote :). Thankfully we have Cricinfo !

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 17:42 GMT)

Duncun go back .... Gary come back!!!!!

Posted by dual.citizen on (March 16, 2014, 17:29 GMT)

@Nawab67: Nawab sahib, Pakistan did not fire the coach. He completed the term and it was known long before that the term will not be extended rather than what you suggest "spur of the moment firing."

Posted by pavan_ckm on (March 16, 2014, 17:12 GMT)

Gaurav is bang on when he questions gavaskar's silence on dhoni's captaincy record. But having followed Indian cricket for all these years, we know the reason why he(gavaskar) doesn't criticize dhoni. Don't we?

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 16:44 GMT)

Wow! Precisely what I wanted to but couldn't articulate. Thanks Gaurav. Just to add to what has been written - How much authority have we conferred on Fletcher vis-a-vis team selections, final 11 selection, preparing tam strategies and evolving a set of ethos and culture on whose basis the team plays. In test cricket, our strategies are more in line with Dhoni's defensive outlook. Dhoni has always defended the final 11 and it appears the final veto lies with him. I have frankly never seen Fletcher's stamp on our cricket so far an it has been all a captain's show. And I don't think I need to talk about Gavaskar's interests to be in line with BCCI and BCCI's interests to be in line with Dhoni.

Posted by HarrowXI on (March 16, 2014, 16:31 GMT)

Fletcher must go end off..... if we loose 10 test overseas under fletcher. We cant change team (play pujara & pandey) even against Zimbabwe & Afghanistan. What kind of Team coach he is. I think he dont have any say in team selection or in any strategy. He is just puppet of Dhoni and Srinivasan. This is going to destroy indian cricket. We need a coach like Darren lahman who just turn around after Arther left. As an indian i know nothing is going to change.

Posted by ROXSPORT on (March 16, 2014, 15:40 GMT)

Completely agree with @switchmitch mate. Fletcher hasn't come up with any strategies to mitigate India's bowling blues, especially during the death overs. Fletcher also has to cop criticism for not trying the bench especially in view of the comments expressed by players themselves about being fatigued (as per Ambati Rayudu in the recent Asia Cup in Bangladesh).

Posted by BowlersWithBalls on (March 16, 2014, 15:01 GMT)

India's biggest problem in cricket is primordial - the lack of match-winning, wicket-taking bowlers. On wickets that are less than helpful, our bowlers, especially the pacers, have looked clueless. You can replace any number of coaches, you need to fix this first.

On the bowling side, Dhoni looks to be playing with a containment strategy - the "slow squeeze". That it is all good, but in international cricket, one or two bad overs is all you need for the strategy to go awry. And the Indian bowlers often walk into that trap.

Quite a few glaring errors are becoming obvious: i. The inability to bowl yorkers. ii. No pace variations iii. No comeback deliveries iv. No wicket-taking deliveries v. No aggression

Our batsmen have looked less imposing simply because of sub-standard bowling.

The theory of the game is simple - if you can defend 150, you can defend anything over it.

Fix that first, and the rest will follow.

No one knows this better than Gavaskar, so lets not even start.

Posted by Raju_guide on (March 16, 2014, 14:54 GMT)

Right now, I am more worried about cleaning the game than winning it. If it's not cleaned up, we will never really 'win'. Surely, we are not accusing Fletcher of playing a part to bring this glorious game into disrepute. Can we say as much about our "esteemed" cricketers with confidence?

Posted by Coolcapricorn on (March 16, 2014, 14:20 GMT)

Rather than blame Fletcher, the blame lies squarely with the selectors & our captains! The selectors keep on picking players who clearly are out of their depth playing international cricket & when we are desperate for a decent seam-bowling all-rounder like perhaps Rishi Dhawan for our visits outside the subcontinent, they don't even pick one! Even when they give a new player a chance by being selected in a squad like Ishwar Pandey, the captain - whether it be MSD or Kohli - doesn't give this player any chance of playing in the team at all, even in a dead rubber match as we've seen so often recently. We all lose because MSD keeps on going with the wrong bowing combinations as we seen recently in both SA & NZ in both Tests & ODI's - so with all this, it is VERY VERY EASY to make Fletcher the scapegoat as he is an easy & convenient target rather than facing the truth!

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 14:16 GMT)

Keith fletcher is a bullet proof for Dhoni

Posted by electric_waco_WAP4 on (March 16, 2014, 13:41 GMT)

All the Pakistanis who are quick to jump on the band wagon of criticizing India every opportunity they get! explain me why they fired their coach? Take a look into their coaching history and talk ? The way I see it is their stones are always for indian houses...coming to coach....Indian team has talent, like few opening bowlers can bowl at pace but need guidance. That is what is expected off the coach. Coach should be able to take a guy with the talent like Shami or Varun and mold them into productive bowlers. What is the use if he cannot do that?

Posted by crisis_man on (March 16, 2014, 13:31 GMT)

to all those taking a dig at gavaskar for going soft on his mumbai mate rohit sharma- he had clearly aired his opinion when he was doing the commentary v Srilanka in the Asia Cup. He had criticised rohit sharma for having a poor strike rate in the powerplays. In his words "A strike rate of 57 (re rohit's scoring rate in the first powerplay) is simply not good enough". He had bluntly mentioned how Rohit needs to learn to rotate strike. he had also said how kohli & dhawan win india matches when they get going but rohit falls after starts & doesn't make an impact on the result. so I see no bias here. the author simply refutes gavaskar's opinions giving no substantiation on his part.

Posted by neanderthal on (March 16, 2014, 13:21 GMT)

Yes it's noone's fault. If Rohit sharma can get so many chances why not the poor coach. Keep giving everyone chances and when they perform in a couple of matches jump and say I told you so. And then again people can invest in the process for 50 more matches. So mr fletcher all you got to do is be part of one series win this year somehow somewhere and you will be assured of 3 more years at least. Who wants to disturb the equilibrium when Srini dhoni combo is having it so good

Posted by switchmitch on (March 16, 2014, 13:21 GMT)

Mr. Gavaskar did not say anything wrong. Of course, he may toe the diplomatic line if/when he is asked about MSD's performances but that doesn't mean what he said about the coach is wrong. Like it or not, team coach is the most likely fall guy of any international team's non performance. Just a cursory check of the recent history will reveal a heap of fallen coaches, who took the entire brunt. And Mr. Fletcher hasn't exactly covered himself with glory to be portrayed as a "victim". Nothing has progressed in his tenure.

The emergence of Virat and Shikhar as an argument doesn't hold good because every team undergoing transition, is bound to unearth one or two players who have the skills for the long haul. And Virat is a serious talent; he would have "emerged" no matter who the coach was or wasn't. Why don't we talk about the bowling, fielding, strategy, team selection... aspects of the team? Where is the progress? Or where is the justification for retaining Mr. Fletcher as the coach?

Posted by buntyj on (March 16, 2014, 12:48 GMT)

fair to the extent he has acquiesced in it being a sinecure and cosmetic to satisfy indian fans there is a coach while not having any meaningful role as the powers that be in bcci, selectors, captain dont want him to; unfair, however, now he has to pay the price and be ready to play scapegoat if required to preempt fans more closely scrutinising the present arrangements and correlating their findings with india's under performance abroad

Posted by android_user on (March 16, 2014, 12:40 GMT)

Mohinder Amarnath raised his voice against Dhoni and look where he's ended up almost like an outcast. So I am not surprised Gavaskar has withheld his opinions about Dhoni's captaincy. BCCI (read president) probably has a veto over anything concerning Dhoni. Another poor performance in England should hopefully end Dhoni's struggling existence in test cricket.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 12:39 GMT)

Fletcher neither takes guard nor turn his arms over. That's the players responsibility. And they have collectively failed. True Flecher is no great coach nor was he a great player.. A coach can only fine tune the cricketers game and plan an overall strategy. Ultimately players have to go out and perform Mr Gavasker... The coach cannot take guard nor turn his arms over.. May be you wanted attention shifted from other important key issues facing BCCI ? To that extent you have succeeded

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 12:25 GMT)

The question shouldn't be what Gavaskar says about Fletcher. All the preparation in the world doesn't matter if 11 men can't execute the plan. When Fletcher took over he was coaching Tendulkar Shewag Ghambir Laxman Dravid Zaheer Khan and Harbajan when they were underperforming. They are icons but a coach at his level is more of guidance personal than actually coach. How could Fletcher ever coach a man of 10k+ runs or someone who has taken 200+ wickets. If finger pointing is done Dhoni is probably more to blame. His tactics in the last two years are defensive ones in test. It find it very hard for a coach to actually agree with that field position where you are giving away a run as well as dont have someone in a catching position. It is also strange that while India plays in India the grass is always greener and this topic to change a coach never was brought up. Fletcher does deserve a chance but for how long even I couldn't answer that.

Posted by munna_indian on (March 16, 2014, 12:24 GMT)

in india, historically there will be knee jerk reaction if the team fails and ecstasy when it succeeds. the success criteria in india is different from the success criteria of other top nations like aus or SA. when the aussies were whitewashed in india, one series failure alone was enough for the aus board to show the exit to mickey arthur, though it happened just before the commencement of the ashes and not immediately. where as, inspite of two successive whitewashes in aus and eng and another historic defeat at home against eng, it is not considered a failure by indian standards. and now, gaurav talks about the improvement part of it, that is, we didnt lose that badly against the SA or kiwis. and hence not reason enough to show the exit of duncan. this shows the standard of indian cricket can never be matched to the standards of eng or aus or sa. if what gavaskar asks for is incorrect, then, gaurav has to explain why duncan should continue.

Posted by Kteam on (March 16, 2014, 12:14 GMT)

Thank you very much Gaurav -- thank you for seeing through the attempt here and giving a perspective. Knowing that Gavaskar is the paid agent of BCCI, the possibility that such an opinion was planted to draw attention away from Dhoni/Match-Fixing/Mugdal report and the ICC bullying cannot be discounted.

I think you have a good point, and also that it is about time that honesty is restored in voicing your opinion. I still wonder about the injury that dhoni sustained, and weather it was just an excuse to put his "affairs" in order in time before the SC would decide on Mugdal report.

Posted by Dashgar on (March 16, 2014, 12:07 GMT)

Yep sack Fletcher and Dhoni. The team is floundering, the leadership should be the ones who lose their jobs. There's talent there but they aren't being fully utilised. Move forward with a new coach and Virat Kohli as captain.

Posted by android_user on (March 16, 2014, 12:02 GMT)

What about Rohit Sharma from Mumbai Mr.Gavaskar !!?? He takes the cake for being the most unimproved player of the decade. 7 years and still looking to cement his place ?? And plays very selfishly every time he bats! and quite clearly looks incapable of playing outside India.

Posted by android_user on (March 16, 2014, 11:57 GMT)

I can see the frustration of Gavaskar with Dhoni being taken out on Fletcher. He was also seen venting out his anger during pre match shows in Asia Cup. It looks like only a matter of time before his frustration reaches it's crescendo he comes out against Dhoni's captaincy publicly.

Posted by electric_loco_WAP4 on (March 16, 2014, 11:49 GMT)

Can understand authors angst.But can 1 really expect 'good sense' and 'balance' from a S Gavaskar-another 1 of BCCI fanboys and never 1 to stop his bias come in way of informed comments and views.So hardly surprising.Great bat though,arg. Inds best.But..

Posted by Kugang on (March 16, 2014, 11:44 GMT)

"In Fletcher's tenure, there has hardly been any improvement as a team. There has been no improvement of players individually also," I agree Kohli and Dhawan improved their game and scored runs in test cricket overseas. How about Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Kharthik, Murali Vijay's batting performance overseas why couldn't Fletcher address those player's batting . I wonder whether Fletcher knows any young Indian cricketers who have potential to play for the country. How much he has committed to identify and groom young players for the future. Fletcher has failed to bring success to the present Indian team and nothing to identify and train the future players. Any coach at International level can advise and fine tune the players like Kohli

Posted by android_user on (March 16, 2014, 11:39 GMT)

MSD is culpable with the team selection but in the end, it is the basic disciplines of bowling and fielding that let India down time and time again. the bowling is all too often apparent desire for the likes of Ishant to go away and work on the basics. Bowling speeds drop away within a couple of years and promising fast bowlers are transformed into medium paced trundlers. It is widely recognised that bowlers seem to have a different psychological makeup so the BCCI needs to invest in nurturing and developing them. As for Indian fielding (my comments are mainly Test cricket related)..the less said the better as there is little aggression or intent by Indian fielders..the impression they give is that fielding is an inconvenience. In answer to the question posed by the article, no, DF is not a soft target & I've never been a fan. Selection of the teams needs to be more transparent and the blame for the current opacity lies at the feet of MSD & he needs to change this or go

Posted by vrkp on (March 16, 2014, 10:08 GMT)

I agree with Gavaskar to some extent. But more importantly, we should sack MSD as captain or make him transparent and unbiased in squad selection and final XI selection. I wont be surprised if MSD plays the following XI in every match until we are surely out of the T20 WC.

Irrepective of the result, he will continue to play the same XI in the same batting and bowling order. Even if he makes a change in the XI, the moment the replaced player performs even slightly poorly, MSD will drop that player and bring in his favourite player.

I think MSD will play the following XI in the T20:

Dhawan, Rohit, Kohli, Yuvi, Rahane, MSD, Raina, Jadeja, Ashwin, Bhuvi, Shami.

If Rohit and Yuvi performs equally poor, then he will drop Yuvi instead of dropping both.

Only when MSD stopping backing his favourite players, we can think of winning consistently- home or away.

Posted by memoriesofthepast on (March 16, 2014, 9:56 GMT)

Is Fletcher worth the salary he gets from BCCI considering the things that have happened to Indian cricket team after WC2011-Gary resigned and Fletcher took over? Does Indian team really need a coach? Are ex-cricketers from India incapable of coaching Indian team? Primary role is of the captain and the team that he has. Fletcher has guts not to offer on own the resignation from the coach. There was no coach to the Indian cricket teams that won 1983 WC in Eng or 1971 tests in Eng and WI or test series of 1986 in Eng or drew all the 3 tests of 1985 tour to Aus and 4 tests tour to Pak in 1989 or levelled the test series of 1981 in Aus. Team can do without coach. Instead of paying to a coach, BCCI can pay the same to make at least one local pitch which has pace and bounce.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 9:43 GMT)

well the bowling selections have always been poor. ishant instead of yadav for SA and NZ. and in NZ jadeja could neither keep runs down or take wickets but considering the start he had, as well as his fielding can't be too harsh on him. Time to have 3 sets of bowlers for 3 formats. No point getting them to play every game and then drop them for good when they start fading. yadav, zaheer and shami and jadeja/ojha for tests. bhuvi, ashwin, mishra/jadeja and maybe try ishwar pandey or aaron. Have 3 captains for 3 formats as well. dhoni: tests, kohli: odi's and T20 maybe rohit.

Posted by android_user on (March 16, 2014, 9:40 GMT)

The article of Gaurav has only one valid point - is MSD equally responsible as Duncan? The answer is yes. MSD is jaded, out of new ideas, and completely lost. So is Duncan! MSD may still be a valuable contributor in the shorter format, so he still retains some value. But Duncan needs to go! Apart from the above point, the article meanders unnecessarily in finding faults in Gavaskar's statement. The facts are straight. India has never been so pathetic overseas as they have been under Duncan. So, to credit the coach for some small gains like Virat or Dhawan is essentially trying to over-hype small achievements. If we credit Duncan for those achievements, he will at best, justify the score of 1.5 out of 10 which Sunny gave him quite generously! And for people who believe that a coach cannot make a difference - look no further than Australia, and what Boof has done for them. The same core group of 15 odd players who were suffering from "homework gate" are now a force to be reckoned with...

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 8:55 GMT)

its natural to talk against coach & captain when your team is not performing. commentary and coaching is not same. Fletcher is proven performer, lead Glamorgan & ENGLAND to success. Is India ever consistent outside home? It doesn't mean everyone should be kicked out. Its easier to say anything with microphone in hand! However someone is asking for DRAVID & GANGULY, I remember Ganguly was never a choice even, from the same person when he was performer. Once these 2 are appointed, these people will rush again and will ask for International coach! Very funny though its not fun at all. Indians are Indians, they will perform what they can only.Coaches can guide you only, end of the days its players in the field. Already Dhoni is asked for leaving, despite his clam attitude towards rest. He should not move even, best of luck to Indian Team.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 8:51 GMT)

Gaurag, good point in the end - if Fletcher needs to go on performance grounds, how can Dhoni stay - maybe it is time to drop both. One (Dhoni) because he knows he can't deliver and therefore, starts publishing excuses (bowling is weak) at the start of an assignment. He is unable to get his batsmen to score runs, unable to get his fielders to catch the ball - keeps saying the bowlers are bad, without making any more than token changes to the bowling attack - can't get the bowlers to improve performance either - why is he captain ? Other (Fletcher) because he clearly is unable to get anything that could result in success out of Dhoni, 4 bowlers & 10 fielders. Batsmen's performance is on the way down, bowlers & fielders are unable to perform - as coach, he is unable to help them get better - they are only getting worse (if anything).

Posted by Purecrick84 on (March 16, 2014, 8:51 GMT)

Spot on Gaurav. It was worrisome to watch someone of Gavaskar's calibre speaking about Fletcher's Cricketing abilities. If Gavaskar is so worried about India's performance, then why not he himself become Coach of Indian team? It's so easy to sit on an Air Conditioned room and criticise the coach. But it's not that easy to coach an Indian team, which has a board unaccountable to anyone, a president who backs the captain to the core, and captain in turn backs up his favourites even when they are not performing. I would have been much more happier had Gaurav also wrote a piece about Gavaskar talking about favouritism all of a sudden, when Kohli was the captain. Gavaskar never said anything about the Dhoni's favouritism.

Posted by henchart on (March 16, 2014, 8:35 GMT)

Criticism of Duncan Fletcher is not unjustified. MSD also needs to be sacked as captain in tests.Ashwin is doing no wonders to play match after match after match. Zaheer is over the hill and a big liability .Ishant performs only when Damocles dangles on his head. Vinay Kumarneed not even be mentioned.Despite these facts one finds these worthies repeatedly playing .Selection process needs a revamp.If handing over India test cap has become very easy taking it back has,ironically,become difficult.No wonder Indians are struggling outside the subcontinent.

Posted by gnat9 on (March 16, 2014, 8:29 GMT)

The coach does not score runs or take wickets. Why then are the likes of Gavaskar whining about Duncan Fletcher's coaching? The real problem with India is that our players are worthless outside the country. Our batsmen, with the exception of Kohli, cannot bat and our bowlers, with the exception of Mohd Shami, cannot bowl. You cannot make a cricket team with just two players. In what way is Duncan Fletcher responsible for that? It is very sad that a player of Gavaskar's calibre resorts to cheap tactics of looking for soft targets instead of addressing the real issues. Maybe it is a reflection of our country as a whole. The tendency of laying all the blame at a soft target's doorstep is all to prevalent in India.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 8:13 GMT)

Good article. I agree that it's unfair to criticize Fletcher for everything that's going wrong with Indian cricket! I doubt results would have been very different even if Kirsten had been around.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 8:11 GMT)

A very relevant article by Kalra. Gavaskar and Shastri always excuse themselves when questions are raised on whatever BCCI dictates. Whatever BCCI does, sense or not! Why Gavaskar always mum on Dhoni's total failure as a test and T20 captain? Why has he not ever clamored for Dhoni's ouster, when India has plummeted in overseas performance. Infact few days back he was rooting for Dhoni, stating that he has performed well in India and you can't throw a captain out saying that you have not performed in so and so country, hence you don't deserve to be a captain. Whoa! Same logic could be applied for Fletcher too. The token for the performance should be equal for coach and captain. Isn't it Mr. Gavaskar?

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 8:04 GMT)

make darlen lehman or gark kirsten the coach of bangladesh or zimbabwe and make stehpen fleming or steve waugh their captain and lets see how they do in a 5 match test series against Australia or south Africa... average players well give average results ..great players will give great results irrespective of who is coach or captain. if you could coach someone into being a mcgrath, waqar, marshall or don bradman. every tom dick and harry from the street could play for national sides and dominate. sports like cricket , the skills required are mostly innate. they can be polished through hard work and advice (coaching) but if a players natural ability is limited there is not much that can be done.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 7:57 GMT)

I for one am perplexed with Indian media's obsession with all things coaches and captain. Great teams are made of great players, not great coaches or great captains. Pakistan won the world cup in 1992 not because of the genius of intikhab alam. It was because they had players of the likes of wasim akram, inzamam and imran khan. Who had the skills to destroy any side on their day with or without a coach. This is cricket not chess. Physical skills are the most important skills required to succeed at this level. don bradman himself could not make a average first class cricketer into a world dominating test player. Australia of the past were a great side not because of john buchanan but because they has the likes of warne, mcgrath and gilchrist. give them any coach or not coach and they would still have destroyed any side that came in their way. you do not need to be a rocket scientist to understand this. india just does not have the bowling (right now) to threaten top class batsmen.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 7:51 GMT)

Mohammad Faizan , At least the Indians only blame the coach . Pakistan Fans blame everyone from the head of the PCB to the Umpires , to the players and ICC , at times even the President of Pakistan joins in the cacaphony . Please dont throw stones when you live in a glass house . ;)

Posted by king_julien on (March 16, 2014, 7:47 GMT)

Gaurav, the article at best is of someone arguing for the sake of arguing. There's no valid point here. I agree that a man doesn't need a successful career as player to be a successful coach, and thats about it. The arguments here are very poorly constructed. A team comes down from number from number 1 in tests to mediocre at best, loses more matches in his two years abroad then in 10 years before that and you feel the coach doesn't deserve a flak!!! really. A successful coach is the one who can bring guy out of bad form, in this aspect Fletcher has failed miserably, Sehwag attributed so much of his success to Kirsten, has anyone said it about Fletcher?. Shikhar has been performing from day one..nothing to do with Fletcher, similarly the coming of age of Virat. Had a Raina or Yuvraj come out of bad form, Fletcher might have been commended.

Gavaskar was a passionate player and commentator, I still feel that Fletcher has not been critisized enough...nd this comment might nt b published

Posted by android_user on (March 16, 2014, 7:22 GMT)

bottom line - he is the coach and he is accountable for our performances. surely someone in the world is capable of us performing overseas!?!?!?!?!

Posted by sandy_bangalore on (March 16, 2014, 6:37 GMT)

THe pampered Indian cricketers, who revel in the adulation by our media and the masses, and are showered riches by various corporates for endorsements, will predictably never be questioned. After all there is a an ageing coach who can be the scapegoat for all things wrong in Indian cricket. And justbecause he is not seen playing to the gallery when the camera catches him, questions are raised whether he is passionate enough! I think what Indian cricket needs is a mediocre former Indian cricketer, and there are many many of them around, since India has had not more than 20 genuinely world class cricketers since it started playing. What that person needs is to make animated gestures and appear 'passionate', so that our media and masses will rest assured that everything is right about Indian cricket. Mediocrity can then thrive together, winning the odd series in the subcontinent, while getting trashed overseas regularly.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 6:24 GMT)

India cannot perform outside the sub continent.....Team doesnt need a coach in the sub continent and outside it even God cant help!Ask Gavaskar will he coach ...he wont because he knows the truth.....commentators are now just preparing grounds for the Team India's coming dismal performances in upcoming world tournaments which will be played outside India

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 6:09 GMT)

But the way Fletcher has approached his job is simply pathetic. There is no sense of responsibility in his behavior. He never seems to be willing to work with the team. It seems like he is on vacation, simply earning his pension. He is not dedicated enough. It is simply pathetic to see him dozing off in his chair while the team is getting rooted off...

We need to change both captain and coach.You can argue that it is Dhoni that controls the team and not Fletcher but then We don't need a coach that has no say in taking team decisions.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 6:05 GMT)

Why should be blame only coach in this situation MSD also failure in Test Captaincy, why the board still not take action against both coach and Captain,some time back the board official don't take any decision up to T20 world cup end.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 5:58 GMT)

Gavaskar has history of criticism of Fletcher even when he was England Coach. I am waiting for him to criticize the likes of Rohit Sharma, the Non Performer, for once, just because he comes from his own state and because he do not want to go back on his own words on the "Talented" player.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 5:46 GMT)

Very good one Gaurav..Fair points those..

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 5:39 GMT)

bravo kalra... it was awesome piece of work, the indians (people like Gavaskar) don't look into the failures of their players but are always ready to make the coaches as scapegoats. What has india achieved except at their home turf during their history. They are just the champions at their home only baring Kohli.They lost almost all the big series and still they are ranked 2, for what which i couldn't understand yet. Dhoni has always been an opportunistic player, take a look at his record and show me his heroics except few. you won't find many. Indians (people like Gavaskar) just know how to disgrace the people and don't into their success, they don't give a damn to that but somehow they will manage to win any series he would have been greatest for them.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 5:33 GMT)

Your article did bring a perspective until which I was swayed by Gavaskar's polarizing comments which is unlike unlike me - so good job there. Gavaskar in his position should bring in a balance to the conversation with valid constructive insights. However there is no way to defend the man Duncan Fletcher, doesn't matter how he has performed or how much he has contributed - there was always a negative air and a skepticm around his potential. Results were no different either. Doesn't hurt to try someone else.

Posted by sray23 on (March 16, 2014, 5:28 GMT)

Those calling for Fletcher to go need to look hard in the mirror. And after looking in the mirror they need to look into the last 20 years of Indian cricket history. Losing overseas is nothing new to Indians - it happened under coach Wadekar, coach Madan Lal, coach John Wright & Kirsten (but to a much more reduced extent) and now coach Fletcher. And are we saying Gavaskar had a stellar overseas record as captain himself? The reason is BOWLING - not the coach, not the captain. The real sad fact is that after almost 80 yrs playing Test cricket, Indians still don't know how to bowl. Till this basic cricketing skill is learned well. we can change the captain and coach all we want, but the results still wont change....

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 5:27 GMT)

On the contrary, I feel he has not been targetted enough...N hes even saved from facing Questions from the media..All thanks to BCCI ..looking at the results.....Clearly his plans are not working...N he runs home everytime theres small gap between 2 series..Can u tell me how many domestic matches he has seen till date.. .clearly hes just content with the FAT pay check...even bhajji just winked when asked about the new coach...and the less said about Joe Dawes the better!!! he could not even get Ishant Sharma to get his seam position right !!!

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 5:25 GMT)

Following points were not considered by the author. A Due Diligence is required while writing about cricket, I present counter-points for your reference. 1) Dhoni's wretched captaincy in Tests. While there is no peer to his form and captaincy in Limited over cricket, In tests Dhoni's shortcoming are painfully obvious, and specially with his backing of key non-performing individuals. Is it not Fletcher's Job to course correct ? Or is he just intent on taking a fat paycheck home ? 2) Shoddy Bowling Coaching staff -Indian Bowlers have gone from bad to worse and Ashwin has clearly lost it as a bowler. 3) Issue of Foreign Coaches-Darren Lehman was a good player and well respected and also had a stint in Australia and UK. Russell Domingo has issues with the SA cricket team, its only the strength of SA team which keeps it going. Not too recently Mike Hesson was Mr.Unpopular in NZ by remving (C) Ross Taylor. Compared to above what activities Mr.Fletcher hs dne which at least creates a ripple?

Posted by MiddleStump on (March 16, 2014, 5:19 GMT)

The article is not entirely based on facts. Kohli has slightly improved his test average in the last couple of years, but not by much. Throughout the New Zealand tour, he threw his wicket away at crucial stages with reckless abandon. Even his fielding was below par. A good coach would have at least talked to the vice captain but apparently no such discussion took place. The bowling has been a disaster both at home and abroad. The lowest point was to see Ashwin and Oja being out bowled on home pitches by Swann and Panessar. The coach has not utilized the services of people like Prasanna and Venkatesh Prasad who had publicly offered to help the bowlers with their obvious shortcomings. Without a doubt, the tenure of Fletcher has been most uninspiring to say the least. In 3 years, the bowling is now at below club cricket level on most test match days. Fletcher may not be the only culprit but he surely deserves a large share of the blame. Nobody has become world class with his guidance.

Posted by TheGecko on (March 16, 2014, 5:12 GMT)

Both of them must go, Fletcher as the coach, Dhoni as the Test captain. I don't believe Fletcher is a "soft" target, he is one of the guys responsible for this debacle. Just because Gavaskar is mum on the others (read Dhoni) doesn't mean that the one he is targeting becomes a scapegoat. Fletcher is equally answerable too.

Posted by muzika_tchaikovskogo on (March 16, 2014, 4:55 GMT)

Spot on Gaurav. I think much of the flak for the India's plummeting performances should lie on Dhoni's doorstep. Everyone talks about India's weak/ poor attack, but what about the ridiculous fields set by the captain, that do not allow the bowlers to bowl an attacking line or give them the catchers/ close-in fielders to take wickets?

Posted by Vishal_07 on (March 16, 2014, 4:30 GMT)

I think Kirsten was a great coach for the Indian team, and I really think Fletcher should be let go. Here is why, in the 0-8 record against Australia and England, the Indian team composition, the plan, even the batting order in both the series (within the series, that is) was exactly same. Right after the first test, or second test if you want to give leeway, you knew the plan wasn't working. But there was no Plan B for the team, there was no motivation in the team after the second loss, and most of the players were just going through the motions.

I am sorry but both the captain and the coach are at fault. MSD should be demoted to just a member of the team, and Fletcher should be fired. The way things are going I don't see things improving under Fletcher's tenure.

Posted by Nathan_R_Patrick on (March 16, 2014, 3:59 GMT)

A good ex-cricketer can not necessarily be a good coach. A strategic skills is different from a tactical skill. That's why Ganguly, Gavaskar himself, Kapil can never be a good coach. Besides they have my-way-or-highway attitude so they shouldn't even be considered for the job. We need someone who struggled as a player and is passionate to see himself in every player in the team to succeed because he has a point to prove as an unsuccessful player himself. Fletcher is one of them. However, the failure cannot be attributed to him alone. It is Dhoni's tactless captaincy that has caused all these defeats. Dhoni has an attention span of 1-day. He hasn't tailored his mind to slice and dice the test match as 5 one-day games played back to back. The day he does that the day he succeeds. Dhoni either loses interest or he plain dumb. And we have seen both features in him. He also has trust issues. He is completely uninspiring when opposition start attacking. If anyone, dhoni should be sacked.

Posted by IndianEagle on (March 16, 2014, 3:12 GMT)

series loss against eng in home was bcz sehwag and gambhir. Main reason for that loss was batting, bowling was second. Had vijay and dhawan played result would have been different. India was persisting with sehwag and gambhir ever after the mediocre performance against eng and oz. Even ashwin outclassed sehwag and gambir in that series as a player but ashwin as a bowler failed. Pujara, kohli, dhoni, sehwag played well just in one match.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 3:08 GMT)

why you didn't mention Indian bowling? Indian bowling has become worse from bad. What the coach is doing for that? You took the example of batting, you should also take a look at the bowling. India's away failure is mostly because of poor bowling. Why the support staff has not been able to improve it.As far as batting goes, India always have good batting. So the coach alone should not be credited for that. As far as captain Dhoni goes, there are question about his place too. Ganguly has said in the past that Dhoni is a reluctant test captain.

I think its high time that India should get rid of coach and bowling coach and make former players e.g. Ganguly, Dravid, Akram, warne, etc as coach. These players are respected across the cricket world and know a thing or two about playing cricket at the highest level.

Posted by android_user on (March 16, 2014, 2:48 GMT)

Can someone give Mr. Gavaskar a computer and read this article to him. When will the Indian cricketers of 1970-00 ever stop using the 'bias against Indian coaches' line?

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