I was surprised to hear today that Duncan Fletcher has been named as India coach on a 2 year contract.
With India the number 1 test team and ODI world champions, it would seem like the dream job. But I’m not so sure and think he could be on a hiding to nothing here, this job looks full of pitfalls to me, I can already hear Geoffrey Boycott sniggering at the thought of Fletcher falling on his face here.
Despite all these misgivings, ultimately this was an offer he could never have turned down. It will probably be his last high profile job offer in cricket, and by the end of it I would imagine no one will touch him with a barge poll.
In the test arena Fletcher is going to have to oversee the end of the careers of Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and probably Sachin – assuming he doesn’t go on for another 20 years.
Replacing Dravid and Laxman could take up the bulk of his 2 years. Also if he handles the Sachin issue badly, then he will obviously be out on his ear. When the time comes for Sachin, he has to be allowed to go in his own way.
It will also be interesting to see how he handles the lack of Indian seam bowlers, he is famously known for not wanting to know any bowlers in English county cricket who couldn’t bowl between 85 and 90 mph. Will he have to break his principles there?
I can see this job being the ultimate test of Fletcher’s man management skills – not only with the senior players, but the press.
In England he struggled with the press and he always struck me as a man who didn’t have much in the way of man mangement skills, but in fairness to him I have listened to Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan a lot and they both speak very highly of him.
On the whole Fletcher did a good job with England, but it will be interesting to see if the Indian players buy into his ways. The BCCI know that this is going to be a transitional period for Indian cricket and there is a cynical part of me that thinks they may well have been looking for a potential fall guy.
Good luck Dunc, I think you’re going to need it.