Knives out for 'failed' Fletcher

Knives out for 'failed' Fletcher

Knives out for 'failed' Fletcher

India’s beleaguered cricketers have come in for sharp criticism from former players, who called for coach Duncan Fletcher’s immediate ouster while questioning Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s captaincy in the Test series against England that culminated in annihilation by an innings and 244 runs at the Oval.

The players were critical of Fletcher’s role in the embarrassing defeat, saying his contribution was “zero” and that it was high time he was replaced.

“What was Fletcher doing after we won the Lord’s Test on a difficult pitch? This is where he lacked imagination in keeping the lead. Yes, I think Fletcher has to go,” said former captain Ajit Wadekar.

India’s woeful performance touched a new low as they succumbed to their heaviest Test defeat in 40 years in a match that got over well within three days, gifting away the series to England 3-1.

Regarding Dhoni, Wadekar said, “He changed his technique and batted well. But why he did not change his tactics as captain foxes me. For example, not keeping a third man where half the runs were scored. Also, in team selection, (Ravichandran) Ashwin should have played from the first Test. Wonder why he did not.”

Former batting great G R Viswanath felt Dhoni often hopes for a miracle to bail his team out of difficult situations. “I’m not happy with his keeping and captaincy, he’s got his own mind. He always keeps repeating that. He always expects a miracle.

Miracles cannot happen all the time. It happens once in a blue moon,” he said.
Former India off-spinner Erapalli Prasanna said, “I am categorically saying that Fletcher’s contribution to the team was a big zero.”

Another former captain, Kris Srikkanth, too felt the same way about the coach. “Fletcher has not contributed anything for the team.”

Wadekar felt that there is no replacement for Dhoni at the moment. “I will retain Dhoni as captain for Tests as I don’t see anyone who can take over at the moment. (Virat) Kohli’s confidence has been dented severely. He should be allowed to regain his confidence in a few home rubbers and then made captain for Tests, while Dhoni can be retained as captain for the ODI and T20 formats, in which he’s good.”

Srikkanth said the Indian cricketers lacked the willingness to fight it out. “It’s highly disappointing. I do not think the players were inexperienced, as people have been commenting. We have seven eight players who have lots of experience. I think it is the lack of willingness to fight and required determination was missing in them.”

Viswanath said the players did not show character. “The whole Indian team is collapsing. It’s the same group of cricketers that did well. If you talk about us, we came back winning (Lord’s, June, 1986) after collapsing for 42 (Lord’s, June, 1974), but these people did not show any character to bounce back. “They just vanished, which is an understatement.

It cannot happen like this. They’re losing match after match within three days. They have stunned Indian cricket. Having brought glory, we know what Indian cricket is all about. I’m really worried about the Indian cricket team,” said Viswanath.

As far as Fletcher was concerned, he said, “We have to forget about a foreign coach. 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 make minor adjustments in technique. I don’t know what the coach is doing. He just keeps mum.

“It’s not that he’s here for nothing. The board is paying and he’s getting his cheque every month and he’s happy. We don’t want that kind of happiness. He should perform what he’s supposed to do. But we’re being vanquished in a similar manner series after series.”

Viswanath said the time hasn’t come yet to remove Dhoni from captaincy. “If not MS, then who will captain the side?” he said.

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