If Duncan Fletcher's first interaction with the Indian media as the national team coach is any indication, then he is set to be overshadowed not just by India's star players but also by the BCCI bigwigs.
More than once during his 20-minute interaction on Friday, the former England coach either looked up to BCCI secretary N Srinivasan seated next to him to answer a somewhat tricky question or Srinivasan intervened to clarify that it was not the coach’s prerogative to answer a particular question.Having said that, the 62-year-old who mentored India's most successful coach Gary Kirsten, had no hesitation in expressing his plans for the India team.
The biggest challenge for Fletcher, who said he consulted Kirsten before accepting the job, will be to maintain the high standards of the India team set over the last three years, having emerged as the No 1 Test side and the world champions in one-day cricket.
“Yes, it is a challenge. But with the players that they (read we) have got, the captain that they've got and the senior players they have got, they could maintain their momentum. Hopefully, I can add some value somewhere along with the line,” he said.
But the man, who guided England to a famous Ashes triumph in 2005-06, clarified that his coaching philosophy will not change despite taking over the reins of a high-profile team.
“My philosophy has always been simple; helping the players, try (to) add some value. It's not about being dictative of how I want them to play — sure, to some degree you have to try and influence them,” he said.
“Gary Kirsten followed my philosophy. He came and spoke to me before he took up the Indian job. I offered him advice on how to handle situations and he took that on board. And now, by Gary sort of pushing me for this job, taking to BCCI my credentials, he realised my philosophy of coaching is right for India.”
Having seen the Indian team from close quarters during his stints as batting consultant with NZ and South Africa, Fletcher was “excited” and cautious.
“When I spoke to Srinivasan (for the first time), I was obviously excited but I asked for 4-5 days, just to settle down and think about the high-profile role; there are some areas you have to be careful about because it's a high-profile role. I made a few calls, in particular Kirsten, and I then accepted it,” he said.
He wasn't very good at dealing with the media in England, and it remains to be seen if he has learnt his lessons.