An Indian cricket coach for team India?
The Indian cricket team has not had a full-time local coach in over a decade since John Wright took over possibly the second most challenging job in world cricket in 2000. Barring the Greg Chappell debacle, the two other foreign coaches the team has employed have delivered.
India made the finals of the 2003 World Cup under Wright, and Gary Kirsten signed off after the team were crowned world champions in 2011. Interestingly, both Kirsten and Wright had inherited a team full of superstars low on confidence.
Wright took over the reins in the aftermath of the match- fixing crisis of 1999, and Kirsten after the 2007 World Cup disaster (though a victory in the inaugural T20 World Cup under an interim coach, Indian Lalchand Rajput, somewhat satiated fans).
Chappell, though, had a team that could potentially be world beaters — eerily like the batch of 2011 — but his tenure was hardly the golden age of Indian cricket.
That’s why it’s important to not miss a step here. In the world of Indian cricket, dreams can easily turn into nightmares.
And now with the euphoria of the World Cup victory over, a country of a billion armchair critics awaits the next appointee. Chances are it might be another foreign assignee. But for a reasonably settled team, that needs tips to handle pressure more than batting advice, the question begs to be answered — why not an Indian coach?
Someone who is used to the scrutiny, knows how the country and, more importantly, the team functions. Someone who doesn’t have to learn everything from scratch and spend precious time getting used to the red tape. Someone who’s been around (or in) a team full of mega stars and knows how to handle the big egos that purportedly occupy the Indian dressing room.
Sure, two out of three foreign coaches have done well. But the one that didn’t do so well, really hit team morale and performance. The 2003 finalists suddenly weren’t good enough to go past the first stage in 2007. There was too much attention on the goings-on inside the dressing room and much was written about the alleged discord in the team.
Again, of the three foreign coaches, just one failed. That’s just 33 percent. But would the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) be willing to take those odds with the number one test team in the world? And a team that is on the cusp of dethroning the Australians as the highest ranked ODI team?
Only time will tell. However, there is certainly no lack of domestic talent.
The names of Venkatesh Prasad and Robin Singh, both of whom have had stints with the team in the past — and by all accounts did a more than decent job — come to mind. Both Prasad and Singh, former bowling and fielding coaches respectively, look set for a bigger role.
Someone like an Anil Kumble, who commands immense respect within the team, would definitely have a calming influence on the team.
But that’s for the all-powerful BCCI to decide.
Interestingly, Australian coaches were de rigueur for a decade when the team from Down Under were on top. Will we see a similar trend with Indian coaches now?