John Buchanan, the former Australia coach has certainly set the cat among the pigeons by his theory of multiple captains for Kolkata Knight Riders. During the time he was Aussie coach, he never enjoyed the kind of attention he does now.
The Australian media was only interested in him when the regular Test players were not available for interviews. However, in India, where the media lives by the sound bite, Buchanan is a regular. If the Indian media had not made him out to be 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 Warne, McGrath and Gilchrist did not need a coach. These three were the ones who were capable of winning any match.
Have you ever heard them say their coach gave them tips? If he was really a super coach, why did Middlesex not retain him for the second year of his two-year contract? Why did the Aussies lose the 2001 Test series against India? Why did they enforce the follow-on at Eden Gardens when, with both McGrath and Warne, they could have put pressure on India in the fourth innings? Why did Australians lose the Ashes in 2005? Why did KKR not even qualify for the IPL semis last year?
Wasn’t it Buchanan who, in 2007, suggested that Sachin Tendulkar was vulnerable to the short ball and that the Aussie quicks should bowl two bouncers and follow it up with a widish delivery, which Tendulkar, with his ‘slow reflexes’ would get caught on? Tendulkar got two tons and almost 500 runs in the four Test series. Surprisingly, the Indian media did not call Buchanan to ask him about the theory.
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 have gone on record about Buchanan's usefulness, or the lack of it.
To comment on his multiple skipper theory is to give it the importance it doesn't deserve but what does require comment is how he has got his Queensland pals lucrative jobs with KKR. Buchanan has an assistant coach, who, in turn, has an assistant. There are two physical trainers as well, one of which is his son.
There is a fielding coach as well as a wicketkeeping coach! Yes, a coach for probably two wicketkeepers! The team also has a bowling coach and a physio. Most, if not all, are from Queensland. The owners — poor souls — probably have little idea of how they are being milked. Do T20s need so many coaches or is this where the multiple skipper idea came from?
The IPL is a BCCI tournament, but if one looks around at the support staff, it looks like an Australian event. But it is such a fast format that there is little place for tactics, and so coaches are superfluous.
As Shane Warne showed last season what is needed is man management. A fitness trainer and a fielding coach also help. The NCA produces coaches, physios and trainers every year.
Have an overseas coach, but unless Indians are given the chance to gain experience under them, what is the point in having them graduate every year from NCA? The owners will also save thousands of dollars if they had Indian assistant coaches, physios and trainers.