The disappointing end to Greg Chappell’s coaching stint in India raises many uncomfortable questions for the game in the country that seems to have run out of steam. Although it’s early days for an objective assessment of Mr Chappell’s tenure, the fact can’t be ignored that he did hold up a looking glass to Indian cricket. So much has gone wrong with the game here that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) would do well not to take Mr Chappell’s final report on Team India’s disastrous showing in the World Cup lightly. For there could be some home truths in his assessment of what ails Indian cricket, besides insights into what led to the men in blue exiting the World Cup so quickly. In any case, it’s time we stopped defining the game based on the merits and demerits of a coach.
As the BCCI tries to resolve the issue of appointing a new coach, it’s perhaps worth asking if we really need a ‘coach’ in the traditional sense. As with other games, cricket coaches define their roles according to their personal beliefs and abilities: some are pure technicians, and some theorists, while others are just good man-managers. This means no single individual can hope to fulfil all the requirements of a modern cricket team. Any coach, Indian or foreign, will require time to converse with selectors, watch academy cricketers, scrutinise fitness reports, and understand pitches before he attunes himself to the country’s chaotic cricket mindset. So, given that any foreign coach is unlikely to find it easy to adjust to the system here, it’s worth considering having a team of specialists.
Major cricketing countries are increasingly showing their preference for specialised coaches in all departments of the game integrated into a unit. Of course, new coaches alone would hardly make a difference unless the players themselves show a new desire to excel. They cannot hide behind an indifferent board or coaching uncertainties, for in the final analysis they have only themselves to blame for balls down the leg side or bats swished aimlessly at balls outside off stump.