Do we need a new coach?
The world cup is done and dusted. As Indian fans we were disappointed. The controversies surrounding the final are in their last gasps. And the Indian Cricket team is getting ready for their tour to West Indies. Amidst all this the BCCI has announced an extension of 45 days for the present coaching staff while formally advertising for those jobs. Amongst these came the interview of Anshuman Gaekwad, who was appointed by the CoA to shortlist candidates for the position of Head coach and the support staff, where he practically says Ravi Shastri is prime candidate for the job and they are not looking beyond him for head coach.
I vividly remember the great Australian teams of the 1990’s. Opponents were literally quaking in their boots at the prospect of facing them. As an Indian fan I always wished for a day when we could boast of a team like that. The Ganguly-Wright era heralded a new chapter in the annals of Indian cricket history. Then came Dhoni with his magnificent twirl of the wrists in the death and his cerebral understanding of a one day game. With him you knew he was a great one day captain but was limited by his thinking and was exposed in the Test arena. But slowly we knew we were getting there. Then the advent of the Kohli era in tandem with the another master thinker and legend, Anil Kumble also saw the increase in our fast bowling stocks, the spin stocks and as always our batting stocks. We Indians also started excelling in fielding becoming one of the best fielding sides. Finally, we thought we could dream to be one of the Greatest Teams. The feared West Indies and Australian teams of the yore could be us, the fantasy every Indian fan passionate about cricket and this team, was salivating at the prospect of.
Then disaster struck. Kohli had a public falling out with the coach Anil Kumble and he resigned. We fans were a bit worried and hesitant and then in walked Ravi Shastri. Describing himself as the no nonsense man and the man, who wanted to take this Indian team to dizzy heights. He promised a lot and talked even more, stating that this Indian team was the best ever. He quickly became the darling of Kohli and had his own support staff too. Then we fans thought nothing to worry. Here is a man with a clear game plan and excellent rapport with the captain. This Indian team is bound to be the greatest by the end of the World Cup 2019 was every fans sincere hope. Did we reach that status?
Before we look for new candidates, one should also objectively analyse the performance of the coaching staff. Let’s start with the head coach, Ravi Shastri. He came in promising a lot. Although we are the No. 01 Test team and No. 02 ODI team, did the man with the big mouth actually deliver? We failed to win the test series in SA and remember SL won in SA. We lost to England. We won against a severely depleted Australia, which was the least we could do. We once again failed to go past the Semi-finals of the World Cup in spite of promising much. The middle order is still unstable. The selection of MSD and his unfathomable role in the ODI set up speaks volumes about the kind of muddled thinking.
If there is one definite conclusion that can be drawn from the above facts, it is that Ravi Shastri has underperformed as a head coach. This team is strong enough by itself to achieve what it did without a head coach. The role of the head coach was to bring in the thinking to the table. If anything right from the start of the test Series in SA, this team’s selection process has befuddled experts in the game and it kept repeating itself over the course of the World Cup, till it spilled over into selections of standbys for injured players.
This team really doesn’t need a Ravi Shastri as much as I guess Kohli needs him. One thing that I have failed to understand is the relationship between the coach and the captain. Does the coach come in with his own style of thinking or does the coach be a yes man? As a player you sometimes get your head bloated with your own achievements that there needs to be someone, who ensures that doesn’t happen. So a coach can’t be a yes man!
And here is wherein the irony lies. Anil Kumble was a beloved player and an astute thinker of the game. He understood the dynamics and the hard work required to succeed. He is a legend of this game, who did not let his own limitations stop him from being the best. This is not to say Ravi Shastri is any less. But when it comes to a person more suited to the role of a coach it is Anil Kumble. But since the captain was not comfortable, in walked a person more known for his way with words rather than actual gameplan. The middle order uncertainty in spite of the never ending search speaks volumes about the ability of the man, who came in to replace the legend. The test series losses not withstanding, the grandstanding after these losses was even more pitiable. And finally inspite of all these blunders that ensured that the National team did not achieve it’s full potential there seems to be no feeling of underachievement and that is frightening!
The other coaches in the big staff have their own mistakes to own upto including the batting coach Sanjay Bangar, whose job it was to identify the middle order core. May be he did and may be the yes man vetoed it. We can only guess and imagine. But if this Indian team has to be truly judged by it’s performance since Ravi Shastri took over, then one should say they have just stagnated and disappointed. Much was expected and none delivered.
So do we need a new Coach? We do if we truly want to be the best. Because King Kohli for all his greatness definitely needs someone, who can be the thinker especially with MSD also not being far away from retirement. The way players lost confidence under the present regime is an indication of the wayward thinking and that is not something we expect from our team. We want our team to be the best and by that we mean the best. We don’t want to settle for grandstanding words and meek deeds. Ask Rahane, Pujara, Rayudu, Rahul etal, all players who were given the most raw deals during this present regime.
So as a fan, who loves my team and is passionate about the game, I sincerely hope that Kohli realises that his ego should not be detrimental to his leading the team and let’s go of people who cannot contribute to the welfare and benefit of the team. Sentiment for self cannot be accepted in a team sport and hopefully the next four years sparks the dream of all the fans of this magnificent team as it reaches new heights and scales the tallest peaks of excellence. Anything is better than the muddled thinking and utter stagnation of wonderful resources that has been the hallmark of this present regime.
We have Bumrah, Shami, Umesh.. We have Bhuvi, Ishant, Siraj…. We have Kohli, Pujara, Rohit….. We have Shaw, Mayank, Rahul, Pant, Gill, Iyer, Pandey…. We have Ashwin, Jadeja, Chahal, Kuldeep…. We have Pandya, Shankar….. We also have MSD….. We have a batting coach, bowling coach, fielding coach, conditioning coach, massuer, video analyst……..
What we clearly lacked was man who could think and act like a coach! We had a yes man and that is what happens when a yes man is made the head coach. Talent is wasted, while Words are big. Resources are nullified making Results look ridiculous.
So don’t we need a new head coach?
Advocate, cricketer and book reader!