West Indies v India, 3rd ODI, Antigua June 12, 2011

India have potential to be a great side - Fletcher


One of the important events of this series for India, apart from the opportunities for the youngsters to prove their worth without the guiding presence of the seniors, is the debut of Duncan Fletcher as coach. He came heavily recommended by Gary Kirsten and his approach to coaching is slowly filtering through the anonymity that he cherishes. In the training sessions, he rarely addresses the players in a group. He will pick out a player or wait for him to walk up and have a chat. Even inside the secrecy of the team hotels, he says he prefers one-on-one conversations.

"If someone comes and chats to me, we just have a quiet chat," Fletcher said. "But that's just been the way that I have always operated and I will continue to operate like that. I have always liked one-on-one situations. People tend to be more free and comfortable in that situation. They are freer to ask questions so if they get it wrong they are not embarrassed. It's between me and the player. Why should I get it out in the media and help them get onto the bandwagon? That's why I go one-on-one because I think there is a lot of confidentiality required."

At the end of the third ODI, Fletcher went to Rohit Sharma and told him that he had rarely seen someone finish a game in such style and with such ease, and lavished more praise at the press conference.

He also talked about his coaching philosophy. "It's important that I come here to first observe and understand them, to gain each other's respect, I mean that's the first thing. Get to understand how they think. People accept messages in different ways. So it's crucial how they communicate with other people. Sometimes if you rush in, it's very easy to destroy a cricketer and far harder to help a cricketer. I just have to be patient."

This tour doesn't have many Indian reporters and so far Fletcher hasn't been hounded by the media. He did get a sneak peek, though, before the third ODI. Suddenly, a reporter asked him, "Geoffrey Boycott has said that even his mom can coach this Indian team. What do you have to say?" Fletcher didn't show any anger, nor even slight irritation. He just said calmly, "I don't want to comment on that."

As you would expect this is the warm-up tour for him as a coach. The time to get to know the players, settle in and be accepted and respected. Respect is a constant theme in his vocabulary. Even in his first media conference in Chennai after he was named as a coach, he said, "You have to gain their [players'] respect and they have to gain my respect. And that's what this is about. Once you have that then it makes your job easier."

It must be hard not to come with any perceptions about players, especially in a team like India, but Fletcher says that was the most important thing that he had to do before he took up the job. "A lot of people have a lot of things to say about the players and other people involved in the set-up, but it's very important that you go in with a very clear mind about the players and make up your own mind about them. That's why I have stood back and observed and see how they react to things. It's important for me that this procedure takes place."

He has liked what he has seen so far from this Indian team. "This [third ODI] was a game where we struggled but we won. It shows two things: the character of the team, which is very very important, and that we can win from those situations. That's not easy. Most sides would crumble under that sort of pressure and so it's good to win so that you know how to win from those situations. By winning the series three-nil already they have shown great capability with bat and ball. What has impressed me is the way they have thrown themselves on the field in this heat. They have got the potential and the ingredients to be a great side."

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rahul on June 13, 2011, 17:53 GMT

    "Potential" to be great? Someone please till our new coach that we're currently the number one ranked test side in the world AND we just won the world cup. Potential to be a great side? We ARE a great side!

  • Dummy4 on June 13, 2011, 17:38 GMT

    Well said SudharsanVM !!!

  • Who Cares About IPL on June 13, 2011, 15:50 GMT

    India would have lost the last series in 2007 if DRS was in play - poor lbw decision against no.11 in 1st test was given not out when scores were England 298 & 282 drew with India 201 & 282-9! Bad light then saved the India team.

    India may win later this summer, but their recent form is patchy. How many sides have they bowled out for less than 100?

    Incidentally Kumble did score 100 in last series but none of the other "golden generation".

    I have noticed also my recent comments do not get posted - what about it CricInfo?

  • Mandeep on June 13, 2011, 13:55 GMT

    England are on the seventh planet just bcoz of winning the ashes from a depleted aussie side ( and not to forget they where white washed in odi's) and beating sides like sri lanka and bangladesh (not to forget the only world class player of bangladesh , tamin iqbal got stuck into them) in their own backyard. So , why they are jumping up and down and day dreaming about becoming no.1 in some months. They will be grounded , let the indians come to england.

  • Dummy4 on June 13, 2011, 13:23 GMT

    India cant play fast bowling is myth now. India played ,survived and even won or drew series against the best bowling all the nations could put up and that too abroad. Two olden days facts are now myths. 1) Indian cant play fast bowling 2)India cannot take 20 wkts . India has taken 20 wkts of each opposition wherever and whenever needed.

  • Chakravarthy on June 13, 2011, 12:42 GMT

    Since Fletcher has declared that India will dominate cricket for the next 10 years, maybe we should just switch off our TV's and come back in 2021 to see India cricket matches.

  • Dummy4 on June 13, 2011, 12:34 GMT

    @Prajyoth Pradeep "(India) Should have won the South African test series 2-1 instead of drawing it. South Africa had collapsed and if was not for Mark Boucher the match would have been India's" Bad news Prayoth, I've checked the ICC guidelines and it does say that almost winning does not count. There is talk that the match may be awarded to India on the basis that 9/10 times Boucher would not have played so well so it should basically count as an India victory. I'll keep you posted on any new developments on that one.

  • Sarath on June 13, 2011, 12:25 GMT

    I dont understand why people refer dhoni the alltime best captain, if players start perfominig at the right time any team will win the game.look at ponting for that case,he won two world cups back to back because he had the match winning resources in the unit at that time,that don't mean he is the best captain, becoz hw won two worldcup.The previous world cup showed the world what it is abt captaincy,because the match winners are missing in the auz team,they dint win the worldcup,even though the captain is the same!!

  • Dummy4 on June 13, 2011, 12:20 GMT

    @moBlue "you don't remember that IND drew a much stronger SA in SA under much more hostile conditions" you apparently don't remember England doing the same at the start of 2010. The reason people are saying that India have to beat England to prove their dominance is that if you look at the last few years not much separates England and India's test records. Its not that England is some holy land where India have never won before (they won in 2007) but that these are the two form teams in test cricket and if England win they may edge ahead in the test championship. People are getting way to upset, lets just wait and see what happens.

  • Dummy4 on June 13, 2011, 12:03 GMT

    True test will be when India play England , next month .

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