Saturday, 28 January 2012

Is it the Fletcher Effect??

India whitewashed again. India have now lost 8 consecutive tests overseas with 4 against Australia and 4 against England last year. India in this period slipped from no.1 to no. 4 in the ICC test rankings. Umpteen reasons have already been cited for this loss but there is one more thing different in the Indian team of 2008-10 and the Indian team of 2011-12. In the former period the team was coached by the relatively young(by coaching standards) South African Gary Kirsten and in the latter, it is the Zimbabwean Duncan Fletcher. So what are the reasons for India's loss in Australia? Can one of them be the coach, Duncan Fletcher?

While the most obvious argue would be that the team lost because of poor performance by players and that a coach cannot do anything about it. Even I agree with this but still how can someone ignore the fact that under Gary Kirsten, the same team was at the top but as soon as the coach changed, the same team stooped to new lows. And at a time when everybody related to Indian cricket is being blamed, there is no harm in blaming the new coach as well.

Old man with outdated ideas- Kirsten was a young and fit man who infused freshness into the Indian team. He used to run with the players, exercised with the players and gave throw downs to batsmen himself for hours and hours. What this did is that it made the players respect their coach and the coach was always available to the players. Such a coach not only did the job of instructing the players but actually played with them and together handled whatever difficulties players were facing. Fletcher being the old man could never do it. His role was reduced to a mere instructor. Now according to standard human psychology we are bound to work much harder under someone who himself also is working hard and is not just sitting in a corner and shouting. For instance Sachin Tendulkar's batting improved considerably by working with Kirsten for hours playing all kind of different deliveries. But now he has to ask net bolwers or Indian bowlers to bowl a particular line. That is the main difference between the 2 coaches. Fletcher instructs from the side while Kirsten instructs by being in the middle. And we all know what turned out to be successful in the end.

Bad handler of top teams- This one is purely non-cricket but something which is hard to ignore. Fletcher took over as England's coach in 2000. In his tenure England achieved an 8 test winning streak and helped England regain the ashes after 18 years. England rose form the bottom to no. 2 in test rankings. But then England started falling under him. They lost the ashes within 15 months and were whitewashed 5-0 by Australia. They put together a very poor performance in the 2007 world cup and soon Fletcher's term was over. When appointed India's coach, India was ODI world champions and no.1 in tests. But since then India have suffered 2 whitewashes which they did n't in years and lost an ODI series too. Maybe it is luck or something else, but 1 thing is clear, Fletcher it seems brings top teams down.

When Fletcher was appointed as the coach, I did not find it as a very wise decision as India had become used to a 40 year old coach running and practicing with them and would find it a little bit difficult to adjust with the 62 year old man. And as it turned out India have spiraled down very quickly under him.

Maybe it is rubbish to blame the coach for all this but being an Indian fan, I cannot ignore the very fact that with the change in coach, our fortunes also suddenly changed.

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