Duncan Fletcher has task at hand replicating the success of former India coach Gary Kirsten © Getty Images
Duncan Fletcher has task at hand replicating the success of former India coach Gary Kirsten © Getty Images


By Tejaswini Tirta


You have some large shoes to fill, Mr. Fletcher.


But then, unlike the confused new secretary in the movie, Devil Wears Prada, starring Anne Hathaway, I think the 62-year-old former coach of England team, already knows the aura his predecessor has left behind.


Duncan Fletcher is aware of the fact that after India’s World Cup win, Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been hailed the best captain and Gary Kirsten the best coach Team India ever had. He knows that having taken charge as the team’s coach in this situation, he has to first tackle the sky-high expectations of not the team per se, but the media, fans and the critics.


Between the BCCI, the team and Fletcher, the job is quite simply cut out; having reached the top, India needs to stay there. If anything, the only dilemma in Fletcher’ mind could be: Do I take it easy for a while, settle in and check out the “field” before bringing in my expertise? Or, do I hit the accelerator and better the best. As some would say, strike when the iron’s hot.


Fortunately, Fletcher has time on his hands before Team India regroups for the really big tournaments this year. IPL4 hasn’t even reached the half way mark and it seems as if many of the key players may opt out of the West Indies series that follows.


The plot, however, might thicken later in the year when Rahul Dravid or VVS Laxman decides to retire, which is inevitable. So, Fletcher’s coaching skills will truly come to fore when he takes on the responsibility of training a young breed of cricketers to become the future Kumbles, Gangulys, Dravids, or – wait for it – Tendulkars.


This includes recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of each player, ensuring the team performs well consistently, stays fit (more importantly, stays sane) and continues to play as one unit, which has been one of the strongest qualities of this team. Sometimes, starting afresh can be the best thing that happens in a team-coach relationship. Foreign coaches have worked for us, no doubt, and the fact that the team members don’t “know” Fletcher, could actually be a huge advantage when it comes to exchanging ideas and drawing out winning strategies.


What I don’t want to see happen is for Fletcher trying too hard from day one. It’d be a disaster if he takes the word ‘coach’ too seriously and too far. Kirsten was loved and respected by all because on any given day, he was “one of us”. A good leader is one who walks alongside his team. Going by what friends and followers of Fletcher say he is a deadly combination of John Wright, Greg Chappell and Gary Kirsten. This time around, we don’t have the ultimate goal in the form of a World Cup to determine that. This time, it’s the journey and the milestones we cross along the way that will define his success. And handling criticisms and comparisons (to Kirsten) at every step will be crucial.


Duncan Fletcher was made an offer he couldn’t refuse. Now, can he build a skyscraper on the solid foundation that’s in place? That is the question.


(Bangalore-based Tejaswini Tirtha spent the first eight years of her career in mainstream media, having worked with leading dailies like Times of India, The New Indian Express and Asian Age, tracking new trends in the film, fashion, theater and gaming industries. A couple of years ago, she was bitten by the corporate bug, but tried to keep the journalist in her alive by grabbing every writing opportunity that came her way. Her other interests include reading, music, watching movies, traveling, F1 racing and of course, cricket)