Dean Jones has made an out-of-the-box “two-coach” proposal to India’s cricket bosses who sit down later this month to choose Duncan Fletcher’s replacement. The Zimbabwean, who replaced Gary Kirsten after the 2011 World Cup, ended his tumultuous assignment with BCCI after India bowed out in the semifinals of the World Cup Down Under.
Jones pointed out India have some great options in Sourav Ganguly (for shorter formats like T20s and ODIs) and Rahul Dravid (Tests). The Aussie said Ravi Shastri should be appointed as the high-performance manager, who will oversee everything. This is typically an Australian format. Will it work in India?
India’s tryst with foreign coaches has been mixed. Generally, low-profile men have done well in a team where players, across generations, are high on ego. Personality clashes are therefore not uncommon.
While the aggressive Greg Chappell, whose run-ins with Sourav Ganguly are famous, failed to live up to his massive reputation, Kirsten guided India to the World Cup. The South African was happy to remain behind the scenes and let the players enjoy the spotlight. So was John Wright.
Fletcher was a great survivor. After India lost eight Test matches overseas, experts like Sunil Gavaskar wanted the former England coach sacked. But Fletcher completed his full tenure largely due to the support he got from captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Fletcher managed to retain his job after India’s horrible show in England last year. Ravi Shastri’s appointment as Team Director somewhat clipped Fletcher’s wings. The decision to suddenly appointment Shastri was reportedly taken without keeping Dhoni in the loop. It was ‘conveyed’ to the captain by a late-night call.
Jones suggests India should retain Shastri as a high-performance manager. Australia have a similar position under which a coach (Darren Lehman) works. Shastri was India’s director till the World Cup. The new BCCI management may not be willing to retain Shastri in this role and then have a Ganguly and Dravid under him. The equations just don’t work.
Of course, Shastri can continue to work with the set of Indian support staff at his disposal. The probabilities are many but Shastri seem to enjoying his media assignments in IPL 2015. He has probably made more fame as a TV commentator than as a decent international all-rounder or Team India director. The odds as a player or coach are always higher.
Ganguly and Dravid have their hands full with media assignments. Dravid, the Rajasthan Royals mentor, is happy doing short stints and handle his media work at the same time. He can balance that much better and would not like to wear a cap of thorns. Invited by Fletcher, he had a short stint with Team India at the start of the England series.
Ganguly is keen to seek a future in cricket administration. He is the joint secretary of the Cricket Association of Bengal and hosts a popular reality show on TV. Ganguly remains one of the most sought after TV experts. And Ganguly will certainly not work under Shastri. At best, short assignments as team director may suit him.
Jones’ Australian model sounds nice. “India have enough coaches. No need for a foreigner. Two coaches under Ravi will be great. There is way too much cricket and players hate to see the same face every time,” professed Jones.
India already have two captains – Dhoni for shorter formats and Virat Kohli for Tests. The two-coaches theory looks good on paper but it is impossible to see Shastri, Ganguly, Dravid and Anil Kumble (Jones mentioned him too) working together as coaches. Probably a low-profile person like Pravin Amre is a better bet. The former Indian batsman is respected and knowledgeable too.
Whoever is going to be coach, he should get a good start as India are scheduled to tour Bangladesh (June), play Sri Lanka in an away series in August and then host South Africa in India (October-November). There are series against Pakistan and Australia planned at the turn of the year. The real test will be overseas.