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Duncan Fletcher axed; Gary Kirsten makes comeback as Team India coach

Gary Kirsten will be replacing Duncan Fletcher to serve his second tenure as India's coach © Getty Images
Gary Kirsten will be replacing Duncan Fletcher to serve his second tenure as India’s coach © Getty Images

The axe has finally fallen on Duncan Fletcher and in a striking development; Gary Kirsten is set to re-assume his role as the Team India coach. S Chuzzlewit reports from Mumbai.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has finally announced the termination of the contract of Team India coach Duncan Fletcher. In what should be the cause for much optimism, Gary Kirsten, the man behind India’s triumph in the 2011 World Cup, is to return in his former role.

The decision was taken in the BCCI Conclave held in Mumbai on March 31, chaired by Sunil Gavaskar and attended by the entire Working Committee. This landmark move of recalling the former coach was vetted and agreed upon by the existing vice presidents Shivlal Yadav, SP Bansal, Chitrak Mitra, Rajeev Shukla and Ravi Savant.

According to a statement released by BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel, “We are not happy with Fletcher’s track record. It was under Kirsten’s guidance, India not only became the World Cup champions, but also climbed to the top spot in the world Test rankings. The team had won a series in New Zealand and squared a series in South Africa. No one has better credentials than Kirsten with the difficult tours of England and Australia coming up and the all-important defence of World Cup to follow.”

Kirsten, who will continue to coach Delhi Daredevils during the Indian Premier League before assuming the responsibility of the Indian team, was apparently reluctant to take up the job as he wanted to spend more time with the family. But a call from Sachin Tendulkar did the trick. “You can’t refuse Sachin,” Kirsten explained for the change of mind.

The former South Africa opener, who coached South Africa till August last year, had recently turned down the offer of the coaching job for England. Reportedly, his decision not to take over from Andy Flower stemmed from his not being allowed to pick Kevin Pietersen in his team. However, he does not foresee a similar conflict with the Indian selection committee.

“I have worked with the Indian selectors long enough and we share a near-perfect understanding,” he observed.

Kirsten’s demands are generally reasonable but he sticks to them — as is apparent from the appointment of Pietersen as the captain of the Delhi Daredevils.

One of the first actions of the new coach will be to engage South African-born legendary explorer Mike Horn as a motivational speaker for the Indian team. “Mike worked wonders during our 2011 World Cup campaign and I am positive that the boys will enjoy working with him,” Kirsten said.

As a coach, Kirsten had taken both India and South Africa to No 1. His credentials are nothing but gilt-edged. Above all, he is happy to stay in the background, and enjoys an excellent relationship with most members of the Indian team.

Gavaskar shot down rumours that he had a decisive hand in the decision. “I am the President only in matters pertaining to the forthcoming IPL, and I was in the conclave purely as an advisor,” he remarked.

When asked whether he was happy with the decision, Gavaskar was noncommittal. “It was a consensus arrived at by all the Working Committee members,” he said before adding. “And I stand by the decision.” But as someone who had rated the performance of Fletcher the coach as 1.5 out of 10, Gavaskar is perhaps more delighted than he is ready to show.

Fletcher could not be contacted for his reaction.

(S Chuzzlewit is a chronicler who sees the world of cricket through a sometimes light-hearted and often brutal lens)

Please note: The above story is undiluted fiction and was just meant to be an April Fool prank. Please take it in the spirit of the day’s mood.

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