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Cricket needs to change the coaching model

Recently, my name has featured in the Indian media as a likely candidate, or one of the probables, to take over from John Wright as coach of the Indian team. John has indicated that he would like to return home at the end of the India-Pakistan series. Let me say at the outset that till date I have not been approached by the BCCI.

Cricket will have to get a lot smarter and begin to understand that the coach is but one small cog in the overall development process and that the coach is only as good as the players that come through. Without a recognisable and well-structured development process, the biggest part of which is first-class cricket, the system will fail to deliver players properly prepared for Test cricket.

Each time a coach is appointed it is a gamble as to whether he is the right person for the job at that time. He may be well credentialed, whatever that means, but cricket needs to understand that the coach cannot teach people how to play. They should be able to do that by the time they reach Test cricket. John Buchanan, for instance, has not taught any of the Australian players how to play but he has helped them to develop as individuals and he has played a big part in the development of the group.

A coach is, and should be, first and foremost, a man manager who can help the player tackle technical, mental and personal problems. He should be someone who organises the team preparation and who can work with the captain on planning and tactical issues. A coach should be able to help the individuals to grow as people as well as develop as cricketers.

Coaching model

The coaching model that is being used by most countries is, I believe, outmoded. The Australian model of a manager who manages the coaching process is the closest to being the right model.

The strength of Australian cricket is the whole system. Not one part of it or one individual is more important than the whole. If Indian cricket is to go forward, rather than backwards, it has to recognise this and take a long-term view of how to achieve a similar outcome.

One of the reasons that I declined the West Indies offer to coach them recently was because of their short-term approach to what is a long-term problem.

They didn't fully understand the philosophy that I espouse and that is behind the concept of how best to develop future champions. The West Indies Cricket Board wanted a quick-fix solution. What I wanted to bring was a system that was involved with the whole development process from Under-17, Under-19, first-class cricket and the OA team through to the Test team.

I also wanted to work with the coaches at the various levels to make sure that the players were getting the same message all the way up the line so that when they made it to Test cricket they understood the team philosophy as well as what was required to be successful at the highest level. What it was also designed to do was to develop local coaches so that a succession plan was in place for when the next coach was required.

Cricket needs to change the coaching model. It needs to change from relying on one person to become a package, including other coaches and experts from a variety of fields, that can put in place a long-term structure that will also serve the short-term needs better than any one person can do.

This maybe a radical departure from what cricket around the world is doing but it is the way of the future because the current system misses the point of how the game of cricket is unique. There is a limit to the number of people who have the necessary qualifications to do the job so the idea of a group who can manage the process on an ongoing basis to keep the whole thing fresh makes sense. It will take some lateral thinking to get around to this creative and exciting way of thinking that will allow India to lead the world on and off the field.

Financial point

From a financial point of view this model will be more costly than the current model is but the BCCI needs to look at a financial structure that sees the national team with its own business plan and budget to make the right mix of experts and technology available to provide leading edge information to the team. If the team goes backwards the long-term cost will be substantially more than a well-funded model would be now. No matter who gets the opportunity to take India to the next level of success on the cricket field, this model or something like it, will need to be in place for India to become world champions.

CafeCricket

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