'Wrong to blame Fletcher'

Former England captain Alec Stewart on Tuesday batted for under-fire coach Duncan Fletcher, saying the Zimbabwean cannot be held responsible for India’s pathetic show in England since a coach can only guide.

Stewart’s comments came after Ravi Shastri was appointed the Director of Indian cricket team and Fletcher’s support staff – fielding coach Trevor Penney and bowling coach Joe Dawes – were given time off by the BCCI.

“Duncan is the best coach I have worked under. He was England coach when I was finishing my playing career. He is a good coach and I think he has been good for India.

Fletcher cannot bat for the Indian batsmen. He can pass all the knowledge he has gained but the batsmen hold the bat and they make decisions on the field,” Stewart argued.

“Gautam Gambhir’s run-out before lunch is not Fletcher’s fault. Chasing wide balls, playing wrong lines and getting out is not Fletcher’s fault. Coaches coach and prepare the players. Players prepare and perform. And the Indian players haven’t performed,” Stewart said.

When asked where the Indian team has gone wrong in the last three Tests, Stewart replied: “As good as India were at Lord’s in conditions tailor-made for England, the home side pressed the self destruct button themselves in that match. And India were very good in taking advantage of that. Since then England have been brilliant as the roles were reversed.”

“Look, I am a huge fan of Virat Kohli. And I really admire Cheteshwar Pujara. They have other good batsmen as well, someone like Murali Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane. But I haven’t seen the application or their technical aspect of the game to cope with the moving ball and that has what cost India,” he said.

Stewart conceded that India’s bolwing had been ‘decent’.

“India’s bowling has been quite decent. Upfront they missed Ishant Sharma when he was injured. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is an English-type of bowler but the itinerary meant that he had to do the majority of work and eventually he got tired. So it comes down to the Indian batsmen,” said Stewart.

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