Home > Features >

Duncan Fletcher’s extension of contract does not have a positive ring to it

Duncan Fletcher's extension of contract does not have a positive ring to it

Duncan Fletcher… lucky to get an extension from the BCCI © Getty Images

The Working Committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) decided to extend the contract of coach Duncan Fletcher for another year. Arunabha Sengupta writes that while this may have been a well thought out decision based on the situation and alternatives, the way the decision was communicated does not really demonstrate a lot of confidence in the coach.

There is a scene from the popular television series FRIENDS where Chandler lies on the beach at Montauk, with Monica beside him. Eager to prove to himself that he is boyfriend material, Chandler asks, “All right, there’s a nuclear holocaust, I’m the last man on Earth. Would you go out with me?”

Monica thinks hard, weighs the only alternative carefully before responding in a half-hearted assent, “Enhhh.”

Somehow, Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) statement, which justifies the extension of coach Duncan Fletcher’s contract by one year, sounds strikingly similar.

The effect is hardly convincing. Well, he had to be kept, you know, because there is no option or an alternative right now. You wouldn’t want a new guy to be thrust forward in that hostile environment of South Africa, would you?

There can be plenty of schools of thought about whether the extension of Duncan Fletcher’s contract by one year is justified or not, some arguments can be made for the decision and many against.

On one side we have eight overseas losses on the trot, followed by the rare defeat in series at home for the first time since 2004 — a period of untold despair for Indian cricket.

On the other hand we have had an aging middle-order, retiring maestros, out-of-form openers, struggling medium-pacers and collective loss of form — all of which may shift the focus from the coach to extenuating circumstances.

Besides, the side has started winning against Australia. True, the latest triumphs have come on the Indian wickets, tailor-made for home-grown tweakers and forbidding for faster men. Additionally the Australian side is not really going through the smoothest of runs themselves, with four players sidelined for not completing the homework given by the team coach.

The Indian batsmen may have mastered Nathan Lyons and Xavier Doherty, but had struggled in vain to counter the combined threat of Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann.

Yet, perhaps it is too much of an ask for a new coach to come in and embark on a voyage to the torrid shores of South Africa, where foreign teams have traditionally struggled, where Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel wait eagerly, polishing the bright cherry in their able hands.

Sunil Gavaskar has wondered whether an Indian coach would have survived 10 Test defeats. Given the way Indian cricket is structured, there cannot be a generic answer to the question. It would depend on the appointed individual, the image of the same person in the media, the BCCI, and, not least, the brands pervading the advertising world. One thing is perhaps certain. If it had been an Indian coach who spoke as little and was as self-effacing as Fletcher, he would have been roasted alive by the raging fire of criticism and would have probably been a perfect, made-to-order scapegoat.

However, the topic of foreign coaches and the opinion of Sunil Gavaskar seldom combine into the most objective.

The decision is perhaps the best among the available choices. And the explanation given by BCCI seems sound of logic: “We don’t want to take a knee-jerk reaction considering the next big Test series is in South Africa. It will be risky and unfair on a new coach to give him charge in South Africa and expect good results from him.”

It’s not a vote of confidence

What rankles is the announcement itself. Underneath the logical explanation, it does seem that it is a far cry from a vote of confidence for Fletcher.

It has been made almost absolutely clear that Fletcher has to be continued with not because he is considered the right candidate, but has saved his job since this not the most opportune moment to sack him.

It also seems to suggest clearly enough that Fletcher has done a bad job and needs to be replaced, but has managed to survive because it will be unfair to a new coach if one is appointed at the current moment.
He has made it as the least evil of a series of negative alternatives.

There is no problem if such has been the logic behind the decision. In some ways, it is commendable thinking.

But having decided on Fletcher, the Board should have backed him to the hilt, at least in front of the public and press.

Instead, the statement by the BCCI member sounds curiously like a vote of no confidence. It seems very unlikely that it will work wonders for the confidence of either Fletcher or the Indian team.

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Mount Maunganui

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Mount Maunganui

More

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 11, 2014  at Delhi

India won by 48 runs

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 10, 2014  at Dubai

Australia won by 5 wkts

Photos

India vs West Indies 4th ODI at Dharamsala

Videos

Pakistan A vs Australia, Day 4: Highlights

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: 5 memorable matches

Yasir Shah: The new spinning sensation for Pakistan

Virat Kohli takes wicket with the first (0th?) ball of his T20I career

Kevin Pietersen’s autobiography — a litany of complaints with a few redeeming patches

Banning West Indian players in IPL can affect the ‘Brand value’ of the event – Will BCCI take this gamble?

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan BCCI India India vs West Indies India vs West Indies 2014 Pakistan Salaam Cricket South Africa West Indies West Indies cancel India tour 2014 West Indies tour of India 2014 West Indies vs India West Indies vs India 2014

BCCI not treating women’s cricket well, says WCAI secretary Nutan Gavaskar

South Africa tour of New Zealand 2014: Both teams look for psychological advantage before ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

Navjot Singh Sidhu turns 51

Mitchell Marsh turns 23

Virat Kohli rises to No 2 ODI batting spot, Bhuneshwar Kumar enters Top-10 bowlers ranking

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: 5 memorable matches

Yasir Shah: The new spinning sensation for Pakistan

Virat Kohli takes wicket with the first (0th?) ball of his T20I career

Kevin Pietersen’s autobiography — a litany of complaints with a few redeeming patches

Banning West Indian players in IPL can affect the ‘Brand value’ of the event – Will BCCI take this gamble?

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

674 Posts | 6 Fans

Highlights from the Asian Cricket Awards at Lord's

अभिनेत्री हुमा कुरैशी ओरिफ्लेम की ब्रांड एंबेसडर

Has Bigg Boss 8 made Karishma Tanna the most hated person?

Pranab Mukherjee returns home after visit to Norway, Finland

Revealed: First look of Amitabh Bachchan-Farhan Akhtar’s Do!

7 reasons why having sex during pregnancy is great for your health

Videocon Infinium Graphite with gesture control feature launched, priced at Rs 10,499

Rupee up 19 paise against dollar in early trade

Twitter introduces Audio Cards to listen to music directly from your timeline

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here