Home > Features >

Duncan Fletcher’s deadpan approach is starting to wear thin

Duncan Fletcher's deadpan approach is starting to wear thin

With voices demanding an overhaul gaining in momentum, it’s going to be an uphill task for Duncan Fletcher (right) to turn things around © Getty Images

The last 18 months have been horrendous for India. Since attaining the pinnacle in April 2011, very little has gone their way. A downward spiral was always a possibility, because meeting the challenge of heightened expectations was always going to be arduous after such a triumph. Many have fallen, albeit not with such intensity, after scaling peaks. Very few teams, like Australia and West Indies of the past, continued to hold their position of dominance long after their victory march. Rather than reclining and savouring the sweet taste of success, the players drew inspiration from it to constantly knock down every opposition that crossed their path.

Gary Kirsten’s exit as India’s coach after the 2011 World Cup was seen as a boon by a few optimists. After claiming the ultimate prize there is in international cricket, it’s hard to keep the team motivated. India held the top position in Tests too, so in reality, there was very little left to achieve. That is where Duncan Fletcher could have been instrumental. The Indian management did a fine job by roping in a man of such stature, and considering the fact that he was Kirsten’s recommendation, one felt that the stage was set for India to continue to thrive on the level they promoted themselves to.

Fletcher did a fine job with England, although his dream of seeing the side grab the No.1 spot in Tests never materialised under his tenure. But it did speak volumes of the kind of targets he set. Considering how he moulded the English team into a formidable unit, the task of ensuring India’s position at the top was comparatively an easier challenge. Moreover, there were no glaring issues with the Indian team that needed immediate addressing when he took charge. It appeared as though Fletcher was easing into his job quite well before the July of 2011, but the worst was yet to come.

By February 2012, India lost eight overseas Tests and, although they won against relatively weaker opponents at home, the margin of victory could have been much better. Whenever the opposition attacked, the Indian players went into a cocoon. It’s hard to think of a single session during which they dominated at either England or Australia. Results in One-Day Internationals (ODI) continued to dwindle as well. Several senior players copped a lot of criticism during this phase, but fingers weren’t pointed at Fletcher yet.

Perhaps it was right for Fletcher to remain behind the scenes, since it doesn’t often end well when you open up to give answers, especially in the subcontinent. However, it now appears as though his deadpan approach is beginning to wear thin. Kirsten too wasn’t a man of many words, but he was vocal about his future plans and how he was planning on remedying a situation. Perhaps Fletcher doesn’t have a free hand here as it may have been in England, but it’s something he would have been aware of before taking up the offer. Like Kirsten, he too could have worked with or around it.

Teams with proactive coaches continue to have a better success rate, although there are occasional glitches on and off the field. Andy Flower is a key decision-maker in the English setup. We’re all aware of the vital role he played during England’s rise last summer, of his stand on the Kevin Pietersen issue, of what he thought about the bowling department and the fact that he takes blame whenever his side loses. “It was a mistake not to play Monty (Panesar) in Ahmedabad. I didn’t expect that pitch to turn as early as it did. I certainly misjudged it,” he said after England lost the first Test. It’s difficult to imagine Fletcher doing that these days.

Australian coach Mickey Arthur, too, has been clear in his thoughts. In conjunction with Michael Clarke, he has ensured that things don’t go awry during the transition phase. He talks about who he thinks is going to be the right replacement for Ricky Ponting, about where Shane Watson should be batting or what the team’s shortcomings are. In stark contrast, Fletcher’s thought process has been hard to decipher, and it’s hard to recollect the last time he stated something with an air of authority.

If India fails to draw level at Nagpur, there is little doubt that Fletcher, who is already walking on thin ice, will be forced to answer some tough questions. Whether the head honchos will continue to back him after this series will be interesting to see. With voices demanding an overhaul gaining in momentum, it’s going to be an uphill task for Fletcher to turn things around. Like Mahendra Singh Dhoni rightly said, albeit in a totally different context, you get to know the character of a team or a person only in tough times.

(Karthik Parimal, a Correspondent with CricketCountry, is a cricket aficionado and a worshipper of the game. He idolises Steve Waugh and can give up anything, absolutely anything, just to watch a Kumar Sangakkara cover drive. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/karthik_parimal)

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 30, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 2, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Khulna

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 5, 2014 (14:05 IST)   at Adelaide

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 6, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Ahmedabad

More

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 15, 2014  at Ahmedabad

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 7, 2014  at Bengaluru

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 30, 2014  at Hyderabad

Match cancelled

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014  at Hamilton

No result

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 3 wkts

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test: Australia's practice session

Videos

Tendulkar provides teaser on upcoming book

Kevin Pietersen saga: Stuart Broad, James Anderson saddened by bullying claims

Live Cricket Score India A vs Sri Lanka, warm-up match at Mumbai: India A maul Sri Lanka by 87 runs

Live Cricket Score Duleep Trophy Central Zone vs South Zone, final at Delhi Day 2: South Zone lead by 32 runs at the end of second day’s play

Live Cricket Score Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test at Abu Dhabi Day 1: Younis Khan reaches his 100

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Rohit Sharma or Ajinkya Rahane — who should open for India?

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe 2014 Central Zone Duleep Trophy Duleep Trophy 2014-15 India Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Zone vs Central Zone Sri Lanka Sri Lanka tour of India 2014

Bangladesh Cricket Board XI in CAB S K Acharya Memorial Challenger Trophy final

Pankaj Singh hopes for good season with Rajasthan

KL Rahul aims to emulate AB de Villiers’ style of batting

Rohit Sharma gave a fantastic account of himself: Sanjay Bangar

Younis Khan 4th Pakistani to score 3 consecutive 100s

Highest identical scores in both innings of a Test

Younis Khan — perhaps Pakistan’s greatest batsman ever

India A vs Sri Lankans tour match: Players look to make the most of opportunities

Viv Richards: How did he perform against the West Indian quicks?

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Rohit Sharma or Ajinkya Rahane — who should open for India?

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

678 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Younis Khan century during Pakistan vs Australia 1st Test at Dubai

India A vs Sri Lanka: Fringe players look to impress

NGOs pursue education for all

Dance Basanti from Ungli: Put on your dancing shoes and practice the Basanti move!

Weight Loss Tip #59: Eat oranges to lose weight

Sensex surges 150 points in early trade to regain 27,000-mark

PricewaterhouseCoopers partners Google to offer business solutions to clients

Google X Lab working on nanoparticles to help detect diseases early

Priyanka Chopra has the best no make-up selfie on Instagram, think fans!

Lisa Haydon: I slept off midway while watching the original Shaukeen!

International programme in Animal Husbandry

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here