Also: The all important tip to Anna Hazare
The Indian cricket team has just been handed one of its most humiliating defeats ever by England, which swept the four match Test series 4-0.
Here at Crank’s News we have managed to scoop some of the jottings from the diary of the coach Duncan Fletcher over the tours of West Indies and England. It reveals some interesting inside story.
Port of Spain, Trinidad
My first day of the tour with the Indian team. Excited.
The mandarins of the BCCI had told me that it would be difficult to fit into the shoes of the previous coach Gary Kirsten. Understood the truth inherent in the statement in a very literal sense. The stupid sponsors had sent shoes in the size that fit Kirsten’s feet. Apparently the sponsors had not been intimated of the change in the team’s think-tank.
Was, however, told that things used to be far worse even three-four years back. For, when Greg Chappell took over he was reportedly sent canvas shoes meant for Chandu Borde.
Anyway, asked for replacement shoes for my feet size. Was told by the officials that sponsors call the shots in the Indian cricket set up. Eventually decided to cut a part of my toes to fit into the shoes provided.
Told the press: ‘We must pull our socks up.’ They thought I was making a nuanced comment on the team’s performance. Hehehe!
The first lesson of Indian cricket: The cricket press never gets it right.
The tricky one-day series is over. Couldn’t stay awake for most part. But realised why modern cricket players and coaches wear coolers even when sitting in the dressing room: To fool the cameras (when they inevitably zoom in) that they are intently watching the match.
Cannot afford to be lax any more. Test matches are nigh. A bigger challenge to stay awake. Need to buy bigger-sized coolers.
All set to start the Test series. Had a long-distance call with the chief selector, whaddayacall, Srikkanth.
Sheesh! This ‘whaddayacall’ is so infectious.
But he is friendly. Well, of course, so is Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who has arrived for the Test matches.
Sheesh! This ‘Well, of course’ is also so infectious.
Srinivasan. Srikkanth. Dhoni. Raina. The CSK gang is all powerful in Indian cricket.
But told myself that I will not rub them on the wrong side. The World Cup. The IPL titles. The World number one ranking in the Tests. The Chennai lobby has helped win it all. Who knows, with them around, I may get to fulfil the biggest dream that any cricketer starts his life with: A meeting with RAJNIKANTH.
The series is won. But the match is drawn. A silly controversy ensues whether we should have gone for the runs with seven wickets in our hand. But I have no time for these things. My mind is already filled with the thoughts of the fresh challenge that lie ahead. The series with England? No, on how to handle Sreesanth.
Hah, to be in England in vibrant July and August is to experience a very unique feeling: Wearing sweaters and overcoats and still think it’s peak summer.
The biggest day of my life as a coach. My first official meeting with the man. At first he doesn’t even notice me or acknowledge my presence. But I am not complaining. For, he is a big star. Literally the most rounded batsman of this era: Yes, I am talking about Yuvraj Singh.
Spoke with Yuvraj Singh. But felt he is not all that arrogant. Because I had just before spoken to Virat Kohli.
Also had some low-key moments with other blokes in the team like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid.
These tour matched provide opportunity to get close with players and learn new things from them. Had a longish chat with Harbhajan, who hails from Punjab, but spends much of his time in Mumbai these days.
To improve my knowledge of India and its cities, asked where he lives in Mumbai, Bhajji said ‘Bandra’. I erroneously wrote it down as ‘Bandar’, but Bhajji quickly corrected me as if I had racially slurred him.
I asked him whether it is any offensive term in Hindi and Bhajji replied that he doesn’t know as he was coming across the word for the first time.
Contrary to popular belief that, on the day before the Test match, nobody knows the full details of the Indian team’s composition and the strategy that the captain is planning to pursue, I got it all straight from the horse’s mouth: Finally spoke to the journalist L P Sahi.
The French were right: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Sitting on the Lord’s balcony and savouring yet another pathetic defeat. Not very different from my days as the coach of England.
Had a longish session with Sreesanth, fine-tuning the footwork and working on the movement of the arms. Yeah, learning break dance from him.
Another controversy in the air. The BCCI, it seems, has paid several crores of rupees to Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri to be their unofficial spokespersons during their commentary stints. Jesus, this BCCI has too many morons than I bother to count. Here I was thinking that we should all pay up to shut up Shastri. But the BCCI has actually doled out a fortune to him to be their mouthpieces. Apparently, all the tracer bullets that Ravi releases have landed on the BCCI’s brain.
People tell me that I am poker-faced and can’t decipher traces of any emotion on my face. To them, I say: Please have a look at Munaf Patel. He has a granite slab for a face. Told Munaf as much. He replied that my face was the stoniest.
Later, Munaf was nice enough to apologise to me and said that he had mistaken my face for N Srinivasan’s. Munaf reckons that NS uses all the cement that his company manufactures on his face.
A dreadful series loss. A whitewash. Feckless performance. Was feeling miserable. The Press, as expected, pounced on the backroom tactics. As the coach, is my career on line?
Hah, they were questioning the tactics of having the IPL.
The first and the last lessons of Indian cricket are the same: The cricket press never gets it right.
(Disclaimer: Anna Hazare, if he fails to get the Jan Lok Bill passed, can get away by blaming the IPL)