UNDER PRESSURE: Many of the big names in Indian cricket are calling for the head of coach Duncan Fletcher.
UNDER PRESSURE: Many of the big names in Indian cricket are calling for the head of coach Duncan Fletcher. LINDSEY PARNABYAFP

Fletcher could be gone before India tours here

INDIAN cricket began a period of soul-searching and hand-wringing yesterday - and it may last until the next one-day series.

The severe reaction of old-timers to the humbling Test series loss to England was deeply sincere, but they also knew it might be of little relevance.

Sunil Gavaskar, the former Test captain and power broker of the game in India, sounded almost forlorn in offering his assessment.

"If we do well in the one-dayers, which follow in a week's time, the Test series will be forgotten," he said.

"The tragedy of Indian cricket is that a lot of the Test defeats are swept under the carpet. At the end of the day, how

ever well you do in limited-overs cricket, it is Test cricket that defines you."

Much, if not all, of the response to England's 3-1 victory, culminating in India being bowled out for 94 at The Kia Oval last Sunday, was along similar lines.

There was a discernible mood that Tests did not matter any longer.

But many former captains were queuing up to call for the head of the coach - Zimbabwean Duncan Fletcher, a former coach of England - who would do well to survive to the summer Test series with Australia in Australia.

MS Dhoni, the captain, was also castigated, but with less venom.

Fletcher has a reputation as one of the world's most forensic batting coaches, but has presided over five consecutive innings totals of less than 200.

Dilip Vengsarkar, who scored a hundreds on each of his four tours of England, said: "Dhoni led the team poorly. His selection policy, strategy, field placing and bowling changes lacked common sense.

"Unfortunately for him and India, he had Duncan Fletcher as the coach, who it seems is devoid of any ideas and has no clue as to how to turn things around."

Another former captain, Gundappa Viswanath, said: "If we're not doing well in foreign countries, what's the point in keeping a foreign coach?

"Our boys are good enough but we have to do minor adjustments in technique. I don't know what the coach is doing. It's not that he's here for nothing.

"The board is paying and he's getting his pay cheque every month. He should perform what he's supposed to do. But we're being vanquished in similar manner, series after series."

Sourav Ganguly, who transformed India's cricket away from home during his captaincy from 2000-05, might be asked to replace Fletcher.

Ganguly said: "There have to be some harsh decisions. The selectors' outlook has to change."


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