Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Duncan Fletcher
Calcutta: A confirmation from no less than the Board has come 11 months after The Telegraph reported (on March 16, 2013) that it wouldn’t surprise if Duncan Fletcher was retained as the India coach till the 2015 World Cup.
Even if the team wasn’t doing well.
“We haven’t discussed the possibility of removing Fletcher. Koi bhi discussion nahin hua. With the World Cup less than a year away, it won’t be prudent to make a change. Won’t make sense...
“Fletcher’s contract should be extended either in the period between the Asia Cup and the World T20 or after the global tournament,” Sanjay Patel, the Vadodara-based Board secretary, told this Reporter on Friday.
The Asia Cup ends on March 8, while India’s first match in the World T20 is on March 21. The latter tournament gets over on April 6, signalling a two-month break for India from international cricket.
It’s not that the cricketers will have a break: They’ll be busy with the IPL, in South Africa and at home.
Fletcher (65) has been on board from the summer of 2011, coming with an initial contract of two years. A one-year extension, without any discussion within the Board, was granted last March.
That unilateral call was made by Narayanswamy Srinivasan, the Board president.
Another extension, by a year, is now a formality.
Clearly, Fletcher, who was Zimbabwe’s captain when Kapil Dev lashed an epic 175 not out in the 1983 World Cup, should consider himself lucky that he has such benevolent employers.
During Fletcher’s tenure, India have been hammered across formats on each of the last four tours — the depressing sequence having begun 32 months ago, in England.
Worse, we got beaten 1-2 by England in the 2012-13 Test series at home.
The only series success overseas came in Fletcher’s first assignment, in the West Indies. However, defeating the Darren Sammys and the Chris Gayles isn’t a big achievement in the present times.
Usually, being the face of his team, the captain is a soft target (many, in fact, are again after Mahendra Singh Dhoni). More often than not, though, the coach gets away lightly.
In cricket, at least.
But if the accountability bit comes up, shouldn’t the coach be as, if not more, answerable for losses in England, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand?
The one bright spot in Fletcher’s era has been the Champions Trophy win, absolutely superb by any yardstick, last June.
Fletcher, one understands, is “great” at picking up small things. But hasn’t he been missing the big errors and the big picture?
The question is: Just what has been Fletcher’s contribution?
When Fletcher is being retained, why gun for Dhoni alone? The captain has, rightly, been slammed for inexplicable field placements. But why didn’t the coach send out a message through one of the reserves?
Is there, then, also an issue with communication?
Remember, Andy Flower was pushed into resigning after one Ashes thrashing. Almost overnight, an otherwise terrific run was forgotten.
It was pretty scary in a way...
If the accountability argument is to be extended, then what about the future of the selection committee, headed by Sandeep Patil?
Patil and his colleagues are very handsomely paid and can’t have an immunity shield.
Patel, meanwhile, informed that a “meeting,” either after the Asia Cup or the World T20, would “review” the performance of bowling coach Joe Dawes and Trevor Penney, the fielding coach.
So, it’s to be seen if Dawes and Penney get an extension.
Footnote: In a move aimed at getting the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) back on his side, Srinivasan has appointed KSCA president P.R. Ashokanand as manager for the Asia Cup, which begins on Tuesday.