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Old school, new ideas

Newly-appointed coach Fletcher is more in the Woolmer mould than Kirsten. Sanjjeev Karan Samyal reports.

cricket Updated: Apr 28, 2011 00:44 IST
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal

Duncan Fletcher shot into prominence as England coach, but it was his stint with South Africa's Western Province which has landed him the most prestigious coaching assignment in world cricket.

Fletcher started his coaching career at the Newlands in Cape Town in 1993, and the team included a certain Gary Kirsten. The former Zimbabwe player quickly bonded with the players, and was a father figure to Kirsten. His former colleaguesweren't surprised that it was Kirsten's recommendation that got Fletcher the India job.

"Fletcher was highly rated here, and it looks he was highly recommended by Kirsten (to the BCCI). He is a good team manager and mentor. He did well at Western Province, where Gary and I played under him," said Kirsten's former South African teammate, Brian McMillan.

Fletcher had coached Kirsten at the University of Cape Town too.

McMillan did not see similarities in Fletcher and Kirsten's coaching styles. For the former all-rounder, Fletcher is more in the Bob Woolmer mould. "Kirsten and Fletcher are different people. Kirsten is a soft person and speaks from a level of performance and aura. Duncan is very forceful on the man management side, maybe better than Kirsten, who comes from the business side, and combined both (man management and business skills).

"Fletcher is similar to Woolmer, always trying to bring something new to the table," said McMillan, who played most of his international cricket under Woolmer.

On Fletcher's personality, McMillan said, "He's enthusiastic and positive, is competitive and has a strong desire to win."

Fletcher is known to be good at mentoring. Former South Africa spinner Paul Adams said: "I started my first-class career under him and he was instrumental in furthering a lot of youngsters' careers. The best thing about his coaching was the calmness he brings. Whenever things are tough, he never expresses what he is feeling."

Jacques Kallis and Herschelle Gibbs were also mentored by Fletcher. Kallis is still known to consult him whenever he needs to work on his batting.

The India assignment will bring different challenges, so how do they look at Fletcher adjusting to the job? McMillan said, "Wherever he has gone, he's done well. Kirsten has done a sterling job and he's got a very good side. He will be good with India, and if (Sachin) Tendulkar stays on, Fletcher's job will be easier."