Fletcher learn the Indian way?
By Suresh Menon
History is no guide when it comes to coaching India.
You can be a cricketing genius or a coach with an
enviable record; you can be highly qualified or a
fresher; young or old; you can be an Indian or an
But none of this matters unless your “likeability
factor” is high. The players have to like you, the
media have to feel involved. Officials want
flexibility and regular acknowledgement that they
are the bosses.
Coaching is the least of the tasks. Depending on how
he approaches his job, the Zimbabwean Duncan
Fletcher, 62, will either have his hands full or
have so little to do that it will be a breeze.
Of India’s three recent foreign coaches, John Wright
has written about how he was met with a limousine at
the airport when the Indian team won, and forced to
take a taxi on his own when they lost. Gary Kirsten
focussed on relationships, much in the manner Wright
had done, while in between, Greg Chappell, a better
thinker than either, began well but was quickly
dragged down to the level of fighting his battles in
the media and letting his strong likes and dislikes
Fletcher’s appointment answers, for the moment, the
question that followed India’s World Cup triumph:
would the victory Cup do for homegrown coaches what
it did for their players and earn them recognition
among the best in the business? Half the coaches at
the tournament were from either Australia or the
West Indies. Nine of the 14 countries had foreign
India are the world champions and the number one
ranked Test team, so any new coach would be in a
If India retains the Test position, that is what
they are expected to do, and if they slip, then the
coach will cop part of the blame. India is number
two in the one-day rankings, and if they climb to
the top that is also something they are expected to
do as world champions.
Fletcher will have to ensure that the team keeps
running smoothly merely to stay in the same place,
but he will also have important input into the
development of the next generation as the team
approaches a transition phase.
Sachin Tendulkar cannot go on forever, and India
will also have to prepare for the conclusion of a
few more careers, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Zaheer
Khan, all of whom played key roles in getting them
to their current position of strength.
Fletcher’s record as England’s coach was excellent
for the first six of his eight years in charge, yet
one cannot shake away the feeling that the Indian
board lost a chance to blood a homegrown candidate
who could hold his own in the company of Fletcher,
Andy Flower, Tom Moody and other names discussed
whenever an international coaching vacancy arises.
This might have been a good time to add an Indian to
the list of the usual suspects. He need not have
been an international star but must have had the
confidence of the players and the ability to operate
both the iron hand and the velvet glove.
Robin Singh and Venkatesh Prasad were the obvious
candidates, having worked with the team successfully
as fielding and bowling coach on the 2007 tour to
But if the board wanted someone who would not have
to waste time getting to know the players or the
peculiar Indian way of doing things, the great Anil
Kumble was also available.
Kirsten has already laid down the formula for
success. He was low-key, accessible and the players
saw him as a friend. The Indian team loathes the
attention-grabbing, public blood-letting style that
Indian umpires have not made an impact
internationally in recent years, and neither have
Indian coaches. Development of the game is a
multi-layered process, and the cricket board must
take the responsibility to place hard-working and
result-oriented officials on and off the field on a
platform where they can compete with the best in the
Still, foreign coaches have worked well in India.
Fletcher came across as a no-nonsense professional
when he was in charge of England. But he will have
to temper his professionalism with the occasional
compromise. That is the Indian way.
A telephone call to Kirsten, whom he has coached in
the past, would be a good idea. (BBC)
|Fletcher is the ideal man for
By Nasser Hussain
Duncan Fletcher is the ideal man to lead India at
this time. I know I am biased after the close
relationship we had with England but Duncan is the
best coach I have ever worked with.
The man is a genius on technique, both of his own
and opposing players, and manages to work out
opponents and conditions better than anyone else I
have known in the game.
Top players might know they are doing something
wrong but Duncan will know instantly exactly what,
whether it is stance, grip or trigger movements, and
immediately come up with a solution.
He also gave us purpose, he was always planning
ahead and he was a great man-manager. The real
Duncan Fletcher was very different to the often
guarded and suspicious man who was seen in public.
I am not surprised India has looked to Duncan
because two of the people he is closest to in the
game are Gary Kirsten, the outgoing coach, and Eric
Simons, India’s bowling coach.
Duncan was always in contact with Kirsten during his
time with England, swapping information on various
aspects of the game, while he and Simons were
inseparable when I last saw them in Cape Town during
England’s most recent tour of South Africa.
Both men would have strongly recommended Duncan to
India. Then again, I am surprised in some ways that
he has taken on this huge job because over the last
few years his wife, Marina, has had health problems.
I can only hope and assume those problems must be
easing for Duncan to take this on now. He is shrewd
and clever enough to know the best way to treat the
God-like figures in the Indian team and I think it
will suit him that the coach of India has always
been a man to stay very much in the background.
The first thing Duncan said to me when we came
together as England captain and coach was that the
captain was the man in charge, the spokesman, and
that the coach should be the man dealing with the
The coach was a consultant, if you like. That
attitude will serve him well now because, if a
foreign coach of India tries to take on their media
or the superstar players, there is only one winner -
and it is not the coach, as Greg Chappell found out
when he took on the ‘Prince of Calcutta’, Sourav
Of course there are a couple of issues Duncan will
have to address. His age is a factor but again I
can’t see why a man of 62 should not do an
exceptional job for India.
And also he was the man who first introduced the
culture of improved fitness into the England
dressing room and I am not sure how that will go
down in India.
Their players tend to like to do a bit of practice
and then head off to film yet another TV commercial
rather than go to the gym. My advice is not to
switch on his TV in India, nor read any Indian
There is nothing Duncan would like more than to beat
England this summer. A cracking series just got even
more interesting. – [Daily Mail]
|Barney Gibson (15) first-class
cricket’s youngest ever player
By Richard Gibson
Schoolboy Barney Gibson made sporting history on
Wednesday when he became the youngest player in
English first-class cricket.
At 15 years, 27 days, wicketkeeper Gibson broke a
144-year-old record when he strode on to the field
for Yorkshire against Durham University at the
Racecourse Ground in Durham.
Charles Young was 104 days Gibson’s elder when he
played for Hampshire against Kent at Gravesend in
1867. Gibson received special dispensation from
Crawshaw School, Pudsey, where he is a fourth-year
pupil, to play.
He began by keeping to England World Cup bowler
Ajmal Shahzad and made two catches in the
University’s 196 all out, the first a diving effort
to his right off Oliver Hannon-Dalby to dismiss
opening batsman Luc Durandt in the 10th over.
His second, late in the innings, provided
left-arm spinner David Wainwright with a sixth
wicket. Gibson pledged his allegiance to cricket at
the age of 12 despite showing promise in Leeds
United’s schoolboy football teams.
Yorkshire director of cricket Martyn Moxon, a former
team-mate of Paul Jarvis, the club’s previous
youngest player at 16 years and 75 days, said: ‘When
you look at the first team at Yorkshire there are a
lot of lads who have come through our academy. But
Barney is obviously very advanced for his years, and
it’s amazing that he is playing so young.’
Gibson emerged at reigning Bradford League
champions Pudsey Congs, the club of Herbert
Sutcliffe and, more recently, Matthew Hoggard.
The club’s cricket chairman Ralph Middlebrook,
father of Northamptonshire off-spinner James, said:
‘It’s a wonderful achievement, we are very proud of
him and the fact he has come through the ranks at
Young used to be the youngest...
Charles Young, England’s previous youngest
first-class cricketer, was aged 15 years and 131
days when he made his debut.
Young played for Hampshire against Kent at the Bat
and Ball Ground in Gravesend on June 13, 1867.
Born in the Indian town of Dharwar on February 2,
1852, Young scored 20 not out from No 9, then made
eight as a makeshift opener in the second innings.
He also took one for 12 with his left-arm medium
pace but Kent won by nine wickets. Young finished
his first-class career with 717 runs at an average
of 11 and 149 wickets at 21.
A clerk by trade in Southampton, he went on to play
professional cricket in Scotland. The date of his
death is unknown. – [Daily Mail]
Olympic ticket demand passes 20m
By David Bond
London 2012 organisers have revealed that they
received applications for more than 20 million
tickets from 1.8 million people for the Olympic
That figure is more than three times the 6.6 million
tickets available to UK sports fans for the event.
Organisers have also said more than 50% of the 645
sessions will go to a random ballot and that 95% of
the applications are from the UK.
“We’re thrilled with the response,” said London
2012 chief Lord Coe.
Track cycling, rhythmic gymnastics, triathlon,
modern pentathlon, equestrian (cross country) and
both the opening and closing ceremonies were the
first events to sell out.
Tickets for those sports will go to ballot, as will
the majority of the sessions in swimming and tennis.
More than 2.5 million people had registered their
interest in tickets before they went on sale for a
six-week period starting on 15 March.
In what is the biggest ticketing exercise ever
undertaken in the UK, the London Organising
Committee (Locog) will now check and de-duplicate
It will then run ballots across sessions which are
oversubscribed and process applications.
Money will be taken from accounts from 10 May and
customers will receive confirmation of which events
they will receive tickets for in June.
Those who were not successful in their initial
application will be given further opportunities to
apply for remaining tickets in June and July as part
of this process.
“Certain events have seen massive demand - for
example the opening ceremony, which is more than 10
times oversubscribed - so there will understandably
be disappointment and we will find a way to go back
to those people with other tickets,” added Lord Coe.
“What is most encouraging is that the majority of
applications are for multiple tickets and for
several sports, which shows that friends and family
are planning to go to the Games together.” – [BBC]
winners to pocket £1.1m each
By Mike Dickson
The rich will get richer at Wimbledon this year with
the likes of Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams
getting an eye watering £1.1 million in prize money
if they were to defend their singles titles in early
Any player getting to the third round or better will
enjoy an austerity-beating 10 per cent pay hike at
what will be the 125th anniversary edition of The
Championships taking place from June 20.
First round losers, however, will get ‘only’ a 2.2
per cent increase to £11,500, and it was that group,
in the shape of the anticipated batch of early
British defeats, that drew most of the attention at
the official preview of this summer’s event.
In his first public pronouncements as the new
Chairman of the All England Club, Philip Brook was
repeatedly challenged on the Club’s laissez-fair
stance on the chronic state of British tennis.
Every year the profits from Wimbledon fund the
domestic game to the tune of around £25-30 million
with little apparent return, but Brook insisted he
was happy, like his predecessors, to leave the
growing of the sport to the hapless Lawn Tennis
This despite the worst performance from home players
in history last year when everyone bar Andy Murray
was wiped out in the first round.
‘It is not our job to dictate or influence the
way the money is spent,’ said Brook. ‘Our job is to
focus on making sure that we continue to put on the
best tournament in the world.’
There is little doubt that the All England Club is
achieving that ambition but when there is a major
summer football event every other year competing for
attention it becomes more and more obvious that the
tournament’s potential is being restricted by
recurring British failure.
One of the sub-texts in all this is Wimbledon’s
desperation not to tarnish its brand by getting too
involved in trying to solve the problems of the
domestic game beyond its free coaching programme for
thousands of local schoolchildren.
Murray has withdrawn from this week’s Barcelona
Open after being advised to rest his troublesome
elbow for four or five days, meaning he is expected
to be fit for the Madrid Masters at the start of
The 23-year-old Scot is unlikely to find himself
playing in the latest new court being unveiled at
Wimbledon this year, the new 2,000-seater Number
Three, on the site of the old ‘Graveyard of the
Seeds’ Number Two. Like much of the phenomenal
development of recent years, bar the Centre Court,
it is gleamingly functional but bereft of much style
In an unusual venture into politics the All
England Club revealed that, along with golf and
Formula One bodies, it is lobbying the government
about the tax treatment of individual sportsmen when
they compete in this country.
At present someone like Rafael Nadal, who spends at
least a month in the UK every year, has to pay tax
on a month’s worth of his annual endorsement
earnings, wherever they are from, and the fear is
this will deter top athletes of all sports from
competing in Britain. – [Daily Mail]
|Woods’ niece Cheyenne wins her
first golfing title at 20
By Maysa Rawi
Tiger Woods might still be struggling to
recapture his very best form since his life was
rocked by scandal last year, but one member of the
family is striking the ball just right.
Tiger’s niece Cheyenne last weekend claimed her
first major golfing gong, the ACC women’s golf title
at Sedgefield, North Carolina.
Shooting a three-under-par final round of 68, there
is no doubt Cheyenne is following in her uncle’s
In a post-game interview claimed she took Tiger’s
advice to ‘to kick butt, to dominate like I try to
do and thankfully did this weekend.’
Far from being threatened by his younger relative’s
success, Tiger happily Tweeted: ‘My niece, Cheyenne,
just won the ACC golf title by 7 shots!
‘That’s awesome, I’m so proud of her.’
The twenty-year-old, born in Arizona, is the
daughter of Earl Dennison Woods Jr, Tiger’s older
half-brother, and was coached by her grandfather.
But despite her famous heritage, she insists she
doesn’t want to rely on Tiger ‘s reputation.
She said: ‘Coming into Wake Forest (in 2008) . . .
there was a lot of spotlight on me as Tiger Woods’
‘Now that I’m into college a little more, I’ve shown
that I am able to play - not being known as Tiger’s
niece, but I have my own game, too.
‘I feel people are starting to recognize that, and
this past weekend, I think, helped a lot.’ – [Daily