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Give Indian coaches a chance
by Sunil Gavaskar
Apr 06, 2009
John Buchanan, the former coach of the Australian team has certainly set the cat among the pigeons by his proposed theory of having multiple captains for the Kolkata Knight Riders team. During the time he was coach of the Australian team, he never had the high profile that he has in India. The media in Australia was interested in him only when the regular Test players were not available for interviews and so they had to fill their pages with somebody. However in India where the media lives by the soundbyte, he has become a regular feature spouting his 'wisdom'. If the Indian media had not made him out to be some sort of a super coach, he would have been just another failed former cricketer making a living telling international players to do what he couldn't at the first class level.

An Australian team with the presence of Shane Warne, Glen McGrath and Adam Gilchrist did not need a coach at all, for while there were other top players in the champion Australian team, these three were the ones who were capable of turning the match on its head and winning it for their country. Have you ever heard these players say that their coach had helped them with any advice or tips? If he was really the super coach he has been made out to be then, pray, why did Middlesex County Cricket Club not retain him for the second year of his two year contract? Why did the Australians lose the 2001 Test series against India after winning the first Test? Why did they enforce the follow-on when with both McGrath and Warne in the team, they could have put more pressure on India in the fourth innings? Why did the Australians lose the Ashes Series in 2005 and before that how did the Australians lose to Bangladesh unable to defend 250 runs at an asking rate of 5 runs an over? Yes and why did Kolkata Knight Riders not even qualify for the semis last year?

Wasn't Buchanan the one who just before India went to Australia in 2007, suggested that Sachin Tendulkar was vulnerable to the short ball and so the Aussie quickies should bowl two successive bouncers and follow it up with a widish driveable delivery and Tendulkar with his so-called slow reflexes would spoon a catch in the backward point gully area? Well, the Little Champion got two great centuries and almost 500 runs in the four Test series. Surprisingly, nobody from the Indian media called him to ask what had happened to the theory. Of course, he would have had a smart answer. It is probably because he has a way with words that he gets the mileage in India where there are very few who know how to disarm the opinion makers. Two legends from his country, Ian Chappell and Shane Warne who have forgotten more about the game than many who think they know, have gone on record numerous times about his usefulness or the lack of it and yet we don't care to listen to them.

To comment on his multiple skippers theory is to give it the importance that it doesn't deserve but what does require comment is how he has wangled his Queensland pals and former teammates into getting lucrative jobs with the franchise. He is the chief coach of the team but has got someone else as the assistant Coach. That assistant coach also has assistant coaches and two physical trainers of which one is his son. What exactly are their briefs is known only to him. Then there is the fielding coach and also would you believe it a wicketkeeping coach. Yes, a wicket keeping coach for probably two wicketkeepers in the squad. Then there is the bowling coach. Then there is the physio but he and one trainer are the only ones that are genuinely needed for the Twenty20 format. Most, if not all of them, are from Queensland, so it appears that he has opened up a jobs bureau at the expense of the franchise. The owners, poor souls, probably have little idea of how they are being milked. Does the Twenty20 format need so many coaches or is this where the multiple skippers idea came through? So yes, we could have one coach for the first 5 overs then another for the next 5 and so on for the twenty overs of the innings.

The Indian Premier League is a domestic tournament of the BCCI but if one looks around at the support staff, it looks like an Australian tournament. Since the franchise owners have invested a lot of money in buying the franchise, it is understandable that they look for expertise to help win the tournament but it is such a fast format that there is little place for tactics and so frankly coaches are superfluous. As Shane Warne showed last season what is needed is Man Management. A fitness trainer and a fielding coach also helps but all others are just there for the ride at the expense of the owners. The National Cricket Academy produces every year plenty of coaches, physios, trainers. By all means, have an overseas coach if you must but unless Indians are given the chance to learn and gain experience under these experienced coaches, what is the point in having them graduate every year from the academy. The owners will also save hundreds and thousands of dollars if they had Indian assistant coaches, physios and trainers. And we wouldn't have to listen to Buchanan's theories.

 
More Views by Sunil Gavaskar
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