Coach-captain row mars Indian women’s cricket
The latest sacking of the national coach has blighted Indian women’s cricket barely a year after it its fine World Cup showing to emerge from the shadows of the men’s gameUpdated: Jul 16, 2018 14:12 IST
There is a sense of déjà vu in Indian cricket. Barely a year after a revolt by the skipper saw the men’s national coach removed, the national coach of the women’s team has suffered a similar fate.
Last year, Anil Kumble was forced out barely a year into his tenure and despite solid performances by the team, due to differences with skipper Virat Kohli. A few days ago, it was the women’s coach Tushar Arothe who got the sack. That the women’s team, having plodded deep in the shadows of their male counterparts, was making a mark on the pitch and in the public consciousness didn’t seem to have mattered.
Arothe, a former Ranji Trophy player, was let go after T20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur and ODI skipper Mithali Raj complained about his coaching methods to the two-member Committee of Administrators, which includes former India women’s team skipper Diana Eduljee.
Arothe has been quoted as saying that Harmanpreet didn’t want to come out of her comfort zone and that the impressive all-rounder was not keen on taking part in fielding sessions at training. She was also apparently not happy with double practice sessions in a day.
Arothe himself had taken over the reins last year, ahead of the World Cup in England, after former India star Purnima Rau was removed as coach. He was hailed for the team’s success as India reached the World Cup final before losing to hosts England.
Although the men’s team have moved forward, and the women are making a mark, especially in the T20 format that has got them spots in the leagues of Australia and England, the controversies point to serious systemic issues within Indian cricket administration.
Indian women cricket has endured a culture of national coaches getting the axe when senior players protest against their functioning, though it used to barely register when the team was low-profile, and not part of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Sudha Shah was removed in 2010, Anju Jain in 2013 and then Rau.
Rau accused the India women’s team members of being “compulsive complainers” and questioned the practice of sacking coaches every time, and questioned Eduljee’s handling of the issue.
“Diana Eduljee is admired by the cricket fraternity but a lot many would not know that she is very vindictive when it comes to decision-making. She is enjoying being part of CoA too much and taking haywire decisions. Power has gone to her head. The fact BCCI is defunct due to the Lodha reforms has given her more powers,” Rau, who led India in three Tests and eight ODIs says.
Rau claimed Mithali, Harmanpreet and pace spearhead Jhulan Goswami had approached CoA member Eduljee for her ouster, demanding the appointment of a male coach. “I was not even communicated that I was removed from the job. They want everything to run on their whims and fancies, and Diana has been their agony aunt.” Rau feels Arothe should have continued till the World T20 in the West Indies in November.
IN PUBLIC EYE
It is learnt some of the junior team members, who had adapted to Arothe’s methods, had no clue what was going on. “The media was not keen on reporting the inside developments but the 2017 World Cup has changed women’s cricket. More money has come in, TRPs have gone high,” adds the Hyderabad-based Rau.
The 50-year-old was sacked when India had won 16 consecutive ODIs. “The present team is the most talented. It was unfortunate how India lost to Bangladesh in the Asia Cup final. I guess if there was discord between Tushar and the senior cricketers during the Asia Cup, it was difficult to win,” feels Rau. Under Anju Jain, Bangladesh won the Asia Cup and have now qualified for the World T20.
India beat South Africa after the 2017 World Cup, but didn’t do well at home against England and Australia besides losing twice to Bangladesh in the Asia Cup. “Harman and other big stars of the team need to realise there is nothing greater than the game and the pride of playing for the country. Players’ egos should not destroy the team,” adds Rau.
India next face Sri Lanka in a series in September, and the World T20 follows. Indian women’s cricket can ill-afford such controversies just when the team and players are making a mark at world level.
First Published: Jul 16, 2018 14:12 IST