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The new coach has to be given time


Duncan Fletcher may not have the services of some of the seniors after a year

BCCI did the best thing by acting on Kirsten's word, writes Makarand Waingankar



The difference between a good coach and a great one is the ability to turn around a team's destiny. It's now more than ever that the coach has assumed a highly significant role.

As the nomenclature of the role keeps changing, the position of international coach becomes much more demanding.

What's more, Gary Kirsten and Andy Flower have raised the bar. They added a few more aspects that brought to the fore a very crucial aspect of inter-personal relationship.

Obviously a coach has to possess the ability and knowledge to sort out players' technical problems but after the ego clashes that one witnessed between Sourav Ganguly-Greg Chappell and Kevin Pietersen-Peter Moores, cricket boards very shrewdly weigh the pros and cons during appointment of a coach.

At times they discuss the candidate with the senior players of the team as eventually they are the ones who will have to deal with him.

There might not be a vast improvement technically of the players, but their confidence and comfort zones have been enhanced post-Kirsten. It's those zones which have boosted their performance. It's this aspect that even the Indian coaches in the 90s couldn't handle.

Bobby Simpson once made a pertinent point about the Indian team when he said that with so many religions, cultures, sub-cultures and dialects, the approach of individuals differ. This tests the personnel management skills of a captain and his coach. Simpson was the consultant to the Indian team during the 1999 World Cup.

With such motley of people, seeds of discontent could easily be sowed through regional groups that can destroy a team. Kirsten had like Bob Woolmer studied the history and the ethos of Indian cricket. It was Woolmer who collected relevant information regarding Pakistan's culture and cricket that enabled him to tackle tricky situations.

The Indian team as seen during the Kirsten era was a curious mix of studious seniors and somewhat over-enthusiastic juniors. To make it work like a well-oiled team, one had to develop a sense of unity within diversity which Kirsten did.

Core team

He also realised cricketers are human and their moods don't last for ever. To get to understand mental part, he requested the services of mental conditioning specialist Paddy Upton. They formed the core team with some senior players and at no time they overshadowed the team.

The situation will however change drastically because the new coach may not have the services of some of the seniors after a year. Filling up their slots and getting them to perform will be a challenge. Not that it's impossible but the amount of cricket that is played in three formats of the game, the adaptability to excel will depend on the calibre of a player.

The major problem that the new coach will face is of bowling and fitness.

We don't have adequate replacements for either Zaheer Khan or any of the senior bowlers. Nor are we making enough efforts to find replacements despite having NCA running throughout the year. The coach will have to decide on the strategy to address core issues regarding bowling and fitness.

The new coach Duncan Fletcher is known for meticulous planning and its implementation. Obviously he was recommended by Gary Kirsten. The coach now will have hardly any days to work on the boys but he has the experience needed for the job.

The best thing the BCCI did was appoint whom Kirsten recommended backed by some of the senior players. We need to give Fletcher time to get the team to perform.

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