Eric Simmons departure: Is the BCCI plugging the wrong hole?

Change of guard… Joe Dawes (left), an Australian first-class player, will replaces Eric Simmons as India’s bowling coach at the end of the ongoing tri-series © Getty Images

 

By Madan Mohan

 

Two contrasting reports on Tuesday spotlight the mysterious ways of Indian cricket. On the one hand, Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI) president N Srinivasan has said that there is no need for a formal inquiry into India’s performances in Englandand Australia. On the other, the contract of India’s bowling coach Eric Simmons has not been renewed and he will be replaced by former Australian first-class player Joe Dawes.

 

It is strange, though not altogether very surprising, that the BCCI does not see the need for an inquiry. In defence of the team’s performance, Srinivasan cites the World Cup victory eight months back. The England and Australian debacles ensued in the Test format and the composition of both teams is different. To say that his argument defies logic would be a euphemistic choice of words on my part. 

 

Having said that no formal inquiry is needed, BCCI has however not renewed Simmons’s two-year contract, which expires at the end of this tour. In customary BCCI style, no reasons for the same have been disclosed. Was it that due to any personal circumstances, Simmons was not in a position to continue his association with BCCI? Or was it that they were dissatisfied with his contribution to the unit?

 

If it is the latter, it once again beggars belief. I would concede India’s bowling unit still needs much improvement. But if any flank of the team has even marginally honoured its reputation in Australia, it is the bowling unit. The bowling attack gave India a chance to win the first Test of the series against Australia and also restricted them at Perth.  Rookie Umesh Yadav has been impressive and exceeded expectations. The bowling unit has helped India stay in the hunt thus far in the One-Day International series as well. 

 

If the BCCI still decided to take a stringent view of it and desired a better bowling coach, surely similar action would be called for on the batting front. If anything, it is the batting that let India down badly both in England and Australia. Does the board indeed not see a need for a batting coach to support the team coach Duncan Fletcher?  

 

Is it satisfied with Fletcher’s performance while at the same time dissatisfied with Simmons? Or is the BCCI simply fixing the wrong hole to submit an action report, if one may call it that, to the press? And deferring the more inconvenient decisions to the future? None of this is particularly surprising, but it nevertheless sounds like an inconsistent approach, to say the least.       

 

Further, Simmons’s contract runs out only at the end of this series. Therefore, the announcement of this decision could have perhaps been timed better. Simmons’s inputs are still required until the end of this series and by all accounts; Dawes is not going to take over with immediate effect either. 

 

Considering that Simmons and the team members are all experienced professionals, it may not be a big issue, but one would hardly be surprised if he is a little more hands off for the remainder of his tenure. Outgoing personnel may not feel comfortable furthering their legacy. And in all likelihood, Simmons won’t be very different.

 

At any rate, the news shared by BCCI on Tuesday leaves us, yet again, with more questions than answers and what they desire to accomplish with action on the one count and inaction on the other remains a mystery.        
 

(Madan Mohan is a 26-year old chartered accountant from Mumbai.  The writing bug bit him when he was eight and to date, he has not been cured of it. He loves music, cricket, tennis and cinema and writing on cricket is like the icing on the cake. He also writes a blog if he is not feeling too lazy at http://rothrocks.wordpress.com/)