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Coaching changes
by Sunil Gavaskar
Apr 19, 2007
One thing is for sure. Whoever wins the World Cup, there will be a huge turnover of coaches of the different teams. John Buchanan had announced in 2005 itself that the 2007 World Cup would be his last assignment as coach of Australia. Whether he is interested in coaching a national team again or is now keen to take it easy is not yet known, but there is no doubt that all he has to do is give a hint that he is interested in another assignment, and he would be flooded with offers. He is smart enough to know that replicating the results Australia got is not going to be easy with other teams.

From the other three semi-finalists, Tom Moody, coach of Sri Lanka, may want to look at other opportunities, though to his credit he has refused to entertain or even consider other offers till the end of the World Cup. On the other hand, another Australian, Dav Whatmore, has spoken on record of his interest in coaching India, even as Bangladesh were playing the Super 8 matches, which the Bangladesh Cricket Board was not amused by and were to decide what action, if any, to take against him. In fact, when India was looking for a coach to replace John Wright in 2005, Dav Whatmore had offered to break his contract with the Bangladesh Cricket Board and come over to India. That did not impress the BCCI, which quite rightly felt that if he could walk out of a contract with Bangladesh midway, what was to stop him doing that to India if say Australia offered him a contract?

The other coaches coming under the hammer after their team’s performances are England’s Duncan Fletcher and West Indies’ Bennett King. Fletcher has been the longest-serving coach, having been in office since 2000, and he has had some success in the job with victories over Pakistan and Sri Lanka overseas, apart from the fantastic Ashes win in 2005. Thereafter, somehow it’s been downhill, and that in a way was to be expected because the English team peaked in 2005 and played superb cricket to beat the Australians. It was never going to be easy to play to that level again, and though there has been the odd win like in the tri-series finals in Australia just before the World Cup, in general, the standard has slipped from English cricket. Almost every former England captain and player wants a change not only for the coach, but also the captain and the Chairman of the Selection Committee, for the results of the English team over the last couple of years.

The coach of the West Indies team, Bennett King has blamed the West Indies’ cricket structure for the failure of the team to make it to the semi-finals. He has been at the job for four years, bringing along his Australian cronies as support staff, and apart from the Champions Trophy win in 2004, West Indies cricket has done nothing of note during that time. If King thought that the structure of West Indies cricket was not conducive to producing a good team, did he bring it to the notice of the authorities all these years or has the realization struck him just now, as the Windies limped off the World Cup radar?

South Africa and New Zealand are the only other Test teams with local coaches and both Mickey Arthur and John Bracewell have done exceedingly well with their teams, so there may be no changes there.

Pakistan will be looking for a new coach after the unfortunate passing away of Bob Woolmer and Greg Chappell left India before India left him.

When Greg Chappell took over as coach of the Indian team, Indian cricket was poised to take the big step forward. There was optimism all round and a palpable confidence that Indian cricket would be ready to challenge Australia for the title of the best team in the world. Instead, at the end of his tenure, Indian cricket is down in the dumps with a first-round exit in the World Cup, and is fractured and divided as seldom before. Some of the most promising talent, as recognized by the ICC Cricket voting panel, has lost its way and nobody of any note has come though in this period. The batting, which should have flourished under the guidance of someone recognized as one of the game’s best batsmen, has looked tentative and unsure and has lost the spark that made India’s cricket team such a must-see for cricket lovers. Despite all this, and him saying in a press interview that the BCCI is run like Zimbabwe, the BCCI is reportedly offering him a place as a Consultant to the National Cricket Academy. It’s never easy sacking somebody, however incapable and inefficient he / she may be, but to give another job and that too one which deals with the future of Indian cricket after the mess the present of Indian cricket has been landed into, makes one wonder if we will ever get out of the inferiority complex syndrome.

In the meanwhile, comes the news, and this could be another calculated leak, that Chappell is going to head the Australian Cricket Academy. If true, then it could be the best thing that has happened for world cricket. Now even Ireland has a chance of beating Australia sooner than later.

More Views by Sunil Gavaskar
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