Gary Kirsten is by far considered to be the best coach the Indian cricket team has ever had. He did a fine job in managing the resources he was given, and mastered the art of getting the best out of them.
Since he didn't have to oversee transition, he didn't even bother to do the dirty job of travelling the length and breadth of the country watching domestic games and spotting talent.
Gary was known to not get involved in the selection processes beyond ensuring that the core wasn’t tinkered with. He knew that the resources he had would take him to his final destination, which was the World Cup 2011, and rightly so.
Need of the hour
But when Kirsten passed the baton to Duncan Fletcher, the latter must have been briefed about the new challenges he was likely to face.
It was no longer about making the most of resources, it was time to start replenishing them. India needed a new roadmap and it was Fletcher's duty to draw that map with Dhoni and the selectors.
For starters, Fletcher should’ve marked the home Tests against West Indies for trying out fresh faces. While Dravid and Laxman were around, it would've been a lot easier to follow the rotation policy amongst the seniors, and allow a few youngsters to cut their teeth into Test cricket in relatively low-pressure series.
Transitions that happen by default, clearly lack the foresight and hence the planning. Unfortunately, that's exactly what has happened with the Indian team.
Since Dravid and Laxman retired, we saw two new faces in the batting line-up. If these veterans had decided to continue, India would've still fielded the identical XI against New Zealand that had lost 0-8 overseas.
Just when the task of India's coaching staff was cut out, they were conspicuous by their absence. The transition phase demanded both Fletcher and bowling coach John Dawes to travel across the country to identify talent.
They should’ve taken the initiative to get a first-hand knowledge of the available resources. Instead, they’ve preferred to operate on borrowed knowledge and in their comfort zones.
So much so that Fletcher wasn’t present even during the warm-up matches against England. One really doesn’t need a coach when the team is settled and working as a well-oiled unit, it’s only when the team is struggling that it needs the coach for fresh ideas, a different perspective and a possible blueprint.
(The writer is former India opener)