Posts Tagged ‘Duncan Fletcher’


Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

A few days out from Team Australia High School, Micky Arthur’s policy suit has played its role in providing the necessary smokescreen to deflect attention away from what really went wrong in Hyderabad. Some of the reactions reflect a general belief – ranging across the Australian Test playing alumnus from disciplinarians to rebels and a few average folks in between (Michael Vaughan) – that the punishment is what, in Mark Waugh’s words, an Under-6 team would deserve.

True, Arthur hasn’t been perfect in his judgment.

His attempts could prove naïve if the result doesn’t go their way in a Mohali track that would, in theory, have had James Pattinson licking his lips. But to his credit, he has succeeded in the most important thing – conveying the message that the baggy green doesn’t come easy to anyone.

It serves as a stark reminder to those who’ve taken the easy way to the top – through T20 blitzkriegs and the odd show of brilliance – that the likes of Mike Hussey and Matthew Hayden, among others, had to carry a baggage in excess of thousands of runs to work their way up the ladder. Although circumstantially, the moment couldn’t have been more indecisive.

These aren’t exceedingly complicated problems. Discipline is a less significant, but more dangerous problem. Australia has faced bigger and more embarrassing challenges through Warne and Symonds, but this incident is likely the totem pole around which the third test will be fought.

Sehwag and Watson: Dropped for different reasons. © Getty Images

The incident, on the other hand, shows how diametrically apart the Indians and Australians are in the context of discipline. Pattinson has been Australia’s most dangerous bowler. It would have been hard to conceive the Indian team dropping R Ashwin on account of him failing to deliver an email to Duncan Fletcher. The old Zimbabwean would’ve faced the sack had such a thought materialized!

Having said that, the Indians will find themselves morally well-placed prior to the toss tomorrow. Indeed, the overwhelming reactions from the media have created a sort of joyous confusion in the Indian dressing room. They’ve made a brave call too, and it was about time, to drop Virender Sehwag and infuse young blood through the likes of Dhawan. Yes, even this decision had drawn a lather of complaints from the media and a few former cricketers – and some of the dust is justified.

The situation illuminates a larger dilemma for the selectors who’ve, rightly, placed the focus on youth: this is likely to be a big year for the youngsters, but not an easy one. And Dhawan’s performance, for one, premature and unfair as it may seem for a judgment, could have a script in the making that would determine if Sehwag would ever make it back to the Test Eleven. And by taking this call, the selectors may force themselves to spend most of their time discussing the weakest point of the Fletcher era – overseas victories.

Mohali isn’t likely to be a dress rehearsal given that Australia’s best pacer isn’t available for selection. It would act as a slow build up to the contest between the Sehwag doubters and the Sehwag backers. The result, for all you know, might be of lesser significance as compared to the never-ending debate of Experience versus Youth.

Team Compositions

India is likely to field the ‘winning combination’ with Dhawan replacing the dropped Sehwag. While the batting and spin departments look good, Ishant could well re-visit a few YouTube videos of him castling Ricky Ponting at Mohali when the Aussies toured in 2008-09. He’s looked the weakest link in the chain thus far, and had it not been for the injuries / absences of Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron, he might have found himself on the fringes of selection. He’s got plenty to prove this Test.

Australia, on the other hand, have too few to choose from. With four absences, and Haddin being flown in to act as a cover for Matthew Wade, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wade play as a pure batsman in case there are doubts over his fitness doing the job from behind the wickets. Haddin would add the necessary experience in holding the lower order together. Siddle, who’s looked a touch underwhelming all series, would have to step up in the arena where he’d made his debut in 2008. Australia need a leader, and he’s certainly the one Clarke would be looking at for support.


Goutham Chakravarthi

In an attempt to make India a fitter unit, BCCI has roped in the services of Usain Bolt as India’s running coach with immediate effect. Indians are expected to train with the world 100 meter record holder for a week in their quest to give them an added edge before they head to Australia for a 4-Test series. Talking of the appointment, K Srikkanth said, “Taking a leaf from Gavaskar’s famous commentary usage of converting ones into twos and twos to threes, Bolt will help team India convert each single into a three at least – and in some cases to a five or even a seven – and thereby helping our batsmen increase their scores three-fold!.”

Talking of his appointment, Bolt, who joined the team at Vishakapatnam, said, “The last day of the third Test at Wankhede had the whole island interested and I had a couple of friends wake me up at the dead of the night to catch the game when my phone rang. N Srinivasan was on the line and I told him the super slow motion pictures were outstanding and I congratulated the BCCI on the quality of their TV production when Srinivasan told me that it wasn’t super slow motion pictures I was seeing, but Ashwin running in full throttle!”

India train to sprint their way to success in Australia under the supervision of Usain Bolt

He added, “I couldn’t believe someone could actually sprint so slowly. When asked if I would help them fix the problem, I was skeptical. But when they dangled a 2 million dollar contract for a week’s training, I couldn’t resist. I asked Fletcher to send me tapes of their running training, and now I am here in India for a week to help them train.”

Of all Indians, Laxman and Ashwin seemed the most excited after their first training stint with Bolt this morning. Laxman said “I sprint the 100m in just a little under 44 seconds just behind Ashwin who does it in 41.43 seconds. Bolt has given us specific training routine that should ensure both Ashwin and I break the 40 second barrier by the end of the week. Finally, there is hope for us to look for the quick second run.”

Ashwin added, “He seemed to be able to point to the mistakes in my technique straight away. He could pin point to my technique that I seem to have followed from my childhood subconsciously – that of Rajnikanth running in slow motion in his high adrenaline fighting sequences. I am unlearning the technique and move towards the modern running method of complicated leg strengthening exercises that will give us enough power to our legs. Also the key is to ensure that the feet not being in contact with the ground for more than 0.2 seconds while in full sprint. Laxman and I, the smarties that we are, have already come-up with a formula that’ll help us get there. Expect us to run like the wind in Australia.”

Bolt is also introducing the sprint runners’ set block positioning for the non-striker while backing up. You will see the likes of Suresh Raina now crouched on one knee without the bat and both hands just behind the popping crease with his upper body in a 45 degree angle that the sprinters use to generate pace off the starting block. Bolt claims that Raina this way is able to run his twos in one-sixth of time he would take otherwise – in the traditional method. Bolt claims that this technique will ensure that there will not be many dot balls as it ensures players are quick enough to run a single even when the batsman lets go of a delivery to the keeper. He insisted that in places like Perth where the keeper tends to stand far back, Raina, Kohli and Dhoni would be able to run twos to the keeper and promised that we will see byes contributing more to team scores going forward. If the wicket-keeper is slightly slack, batsman might run a bye to him even off spinners!

Duncan Fletcher, the Indian coach said “Bolt’s insight into running and the transformation that is possible with his inputs is quite amazing. Even I have been able to move from one side of the ground to the other in less than 20 minutes now. Munaf Patel, Aashish Nehra now run quicker than they bowl. That was the easy part. We are now trying to translate this to field positions as well. The increased agility of the fielders will ensure that each fielder can now control two positions. Jadeja will now man both point and covers and Kohli mid-off and extra-cover, where as, Raina will cover the whole of the on-side and Dhoni alone now will cover for the keeper and three slips. Our not-so quicker fielders will stand on the boundary and strategize thereby giving us an unprecedented edge over all teams that have played cricket before us. Sehwag now can charge down to spinners and hit it almost off the bowlers’ hands as he is now that quick!”

With the whole of the nation very excited by this development, Bolt was convinced that India would start favourites in Australia this time. He signed off by saying, “India will run away with the cup in Australia. I think they should. If they did, don’t think there is anyone in Australia quick enough to chase them down. Let’s just hope they don’t assign the task to Laxman or Ashwin yet. They will get chased down for they are not quick enough just yet”