What is the role of a cricket coach?

The role of a cricket coach is most underrated and also most overrated at the same time by the fans.

Recently I was watching a talk show where this topic was discussed extensively. The panel on the show were Brian Lara, Sir Vivian Richards and Ian Chappell.

All three of them legends of the game and they unanimously agreed that coaches are at the international level should basically be good man managers.

They also mentioned that the name “Coach” should be changed to something more relevant.

Even though that kind of simplifies the role, I think there is some merit to that line of thinking.

Sourav Ganguly recently on another TV show brought up an interesting point. India toured Ireland and England in 2007 without a coach.

The Indian team manager for that tour was Chandu Borde who was already 72 years old at that time. India went on to win both the series, first against South Africa in Ireland, followed by a Test series win in England.

The Indian team was experienced and contained players of the calibre of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman, Kumble and Zaheer Khan.

The team was full of legends and the role of the coach here would have been just to help to manage and help the captain with the strategy for the games.

Coaching in the international level does not exist. If a player needs coaching at the international level, he should not be there in the first place.

So would it be more appropriate to call them consultant or Advisor or Strategist instead? Probably yes, but again I am not sure what the position is called is that important compared to having a clear understanding of the role.

There are lots of fans who blame the coach for the poor performance of the batsmen or the bowlers but again the role of an international coach is not to teach players to bowl or bat.

That level of coaching is done at the grassroots level and should stay there. Once the player is representing his country, he is expected to do the basics right.

If he is not, the coaches at the preliminary levels need to questioned.

This does not mean that coaches are not needed at the international level. An international team can be full of legends but they need a good manager and also someone who helps the captain strategize ahead of the game.

A manager/coach is extremely important in a professional setup and cannot be completely ignored. You can never understate the role of coaches like Dave Whatmore, Bob Woolmer and Gary Kirsten and their contributions to their respective teams during their tenure.

Managing a team full of legends is very important in cricket and all the above coaches did that. Gary Kirsten helped India to a world cup win and achieve No.1 rankings in Test cricket. I don’t think Gary ever had to teach Sachin Tendulkar how to bat or Zaheer and Kumble how to bowl.

The success of these coaches was to effectively manage the teams they were involved in and offer support to their respective team captains.

Dave Whatmore converted the Sri Lankan team into world beaters. Bob Woolmer managed a mercurial Pakistan team full of legends effectively which none of his successors were able to do.

All the above coaches I mentioned understood their role and their boundaries. A coach’s role should never interfere with that of the captain and a coach should never have a say in what the captain does on the field.

The cricket coach role is no different that coaches at any other sport. A player at the international level cannot be coached and that should not be in the national coach’s job description.

The link to my original article

Sports updates 1 – India bounced out once again, Armaan sizzles in Morocco

Since I have not posted for a while I decided to compile all the happenings in the sports world in a single post. I have decided to split this into two parts.

World T20 – Bounced out once again

Indian batsmen were sitting ducks against short pitched bowling in the recently concluded World T20

The Indian team cut a sorry figure in the recently concluded World T20 as they were bounced out yet again two years in a row in the super 8 stage of the championship. This year was an exact replica of the 2009 edition in England where the Indian team failed to win a single game in the second stage of the tournament. The batsmen looked sitting ducks against the pace of the Australian and West Indian bowlers and handed the games without a fight.

The performance of the Indian batsmen was baffling to say the least as they very well knew what to expect after their experiance in England last year. Raina, Sharma, Pathan and Ghambir struggled last year in England against short pitched stuff and they repeated the dose once again in West Indies. The bowling was bad a usual as except for Harbajan Singh everyone else was either unfit or inconsistent. The team selections were confusing and the fielding appalling.

This year’s exit was made even worse when the team coach lashed out against few players calling them unfit to play any form of cricket. The coach Gary Kirsten even said that he was fitter than few players in the Indian team at 42. And there was also a report of few players engaging in a pub brawl after their defeat against Sri Lanka. All in all it was another pathetic ICC World event for India under Dhoni. The silver lining though is that India has chosen a young team under Raina to participate in the tri series in Zimbabwe and I hope that we unearth some good players in that series.

Formula two – Armaan sizzles in Morocco

Armaan Ebrahim was brilliant in Morocco as he finished 6th in both the races

Armaan Ebrahim finished 6th in both the races in Morocco to cap off a brilliant race in the 3rd and 4th rounds of Formula two championship. Armaan’s top 6 finishes was despite the fact that he did not do that well in the qualifying as he finished at 8th and 11th respectively. With a brilliant performance in the Morocco leg of the championship he currently sits at 7th in the overall championship race.

Ajith Kumar also had a good race in Morocco as he finished identical 13th in both the races. Ajith would be really happy with this performance as he was able to finish 4 races in a row and would like to improve on his standings in the upcoming races starting with Monza on the 23rd of May. Parthiva Sureshwaran though had a mixed round 3 and 4 as he finished 11th in the first race and had to retire in the race 2.

All in all it was a good performance from the Indian contingent and it seems like we are not that far away from a podium finish. Please visit Formulatwo.com for the latest updates on the Monza race.

India look for a series win

India leads 1-0 in the 3 test match series against New Zealand after the comprehensive win in Hamilton last week. India will take on the hosts again and this time in Napier for the second test of the series. Dhoni and Gary Kirsten would want to wrap up the series in Napier. If this happens, it will be a great achievement from the team India.

India have announced an unchanged team for the second test match and understandably so. The batting looked good in Hamilton and the bowling was persistent. Munaf Patel has for now sealed the third seamer position in the team and Harbajan with his 6 wicket haul has solved the spin problem for now. Batting for the Indians has not been a problem in this series. Daniel Vettori knows that they have to do something different in the second game to upset the Indian batting line up. Their bowling looked toothless in the first test and did not look like taking 20 wickets.

New Zealand batting also struggled against Harbajan on a flat batting track. It was a bad loss for the hosts and it seems like on a good wicket they are no match for the Indians. Vettori wanted Jacob Oram to be back for the second test but that isn’t a possibility right now. It seems for the Kiwis Jeetan Patel will be back in the squad. The Kiwis will also worry about the form of their No1 bowler Kyle Mills who has been largely ineffective in this series in all formats.

All in all this will be another interesting game and I guess the toss will be important again for the home team. Dhoni and India would want to get the series win here to cap off a wonderful series. Best of luck to the team and hopefully we will win the series in Napier.

India look for a series win

India leads 1-0 in the 3 test match series against New Zealand after the comprehensive win in Hamilton last week. India will take on the hosts again and this time in Napier for the second test of the series. Dhoni and Gary Kirsten would want to wrap up the series in Napier. If this happens, it will be a great achievement from the team India.

India have announced an unchanged team for the second test match and understandably so. The batting looked good in Hamilton and the bowling was persistent. Munaf Patel has for now sealed the third seamer position in the team and Harbajan with his 6 wicket haul has solved the spin problem for now. Batting for the Indians has not been a problem in this series. Daniel Vettori knows that they have to do something different in the second game to upset the Indian batting line up. Their bowling looked toothless in the first test and did not look like taking 20 wickets.

New Zealand batting also struggled against Harbajan on a flat batting track. It was a bad loss for the hosts and it seems like on a good wicket they are no match for the Indians. Vettori wanted Jacob Oram to be back for the second test but that isn’t a possibility right now. It seems for the Kiwis Jeetan Patel will be back in the squad. The Kiwis will also worry about the form of their No1 bowler Kyle Mills who has been largely ineffective in this series in all formats.

All in all this will be another interesting game and I guess the toss will be important again for the home team. Dhoni and India would want to get the series win here to cap off a wonderful series. Best of luck to the team and hopefully we will win the series in Napier.

India look to make it 4-0

The Indian team who has already won the series 3-0 would want to keep the momentum going by winning the final ODI at Auckland. The Indians probably will rest few of their key players but still would want to retain the core. Dhoni would probably want to rest Zaheer and give Munaf or Balaji or Kulkarni (If available for ODI’s) a chance as it will help him to decide on the third seamer for the first test.

I guess Ishant will still play as he looked very rusty in the 4th game. The batting though will be interesting but I would assume that Dhoni and Kirsten would not want to make too many changes in the squad. The Kiwis confidence has been dented in the ODI’s and India would want to leave it that way. Any let up in pressure would give the hosts enormous confidence for the upcoming test series. The Indians though would want to guard against complacency which could creep into their games.

In the past year or so they have not been that good in the dead rubbers. In Srilanka last year the Indians were leading 3-1 going into the final game and lost badly chasing a modest target. Earlier this year they repeated the same mistake as after leading 4-0 they let up the pressure in the final game. This series though is not just about the ODI’s but since the test series is just around the corner the Indians would want the New Zealanders to be under constant pressure to win.

This has been yet another great series for the Indians but there have been some flaws which were eclipsed by the batters. The fielding has been very poor, catches have gone down at crucial times, bowling has lacked discipline but in spite of that they have won which should give the team confidence. But to be at the top Gary Kirsten needs to work on ironing out the flaws. The Indian one day team is made of youngsters and should not be having any issues with fielding.

The New Zealand captain though would be looking for a win to end the series. They have been battered to submission by the Indian batting but would want to end the series on a high. The test series is just around the corner and a win here would give the team a lot of confidence. Vettori would know that and would want to reverse the trend a little bit. The key for the home team to win is to bowl with more discipline and get rid of the Indian openers fast which they haven’t been able to do since the Twenty20 games.

Once they do that the Indian middle order will be under pressure and would have to consolidate. Lets hope that this game is also as exciting as the previous ones and I am predicting an Indian win again.

India look to make it 4-0

The Indian team who has already won the series 3-0 would want to keep the momentum going by winning the final ODI at Auckland. The Indians probably will rest few of their key players but still would want to retain the core. Dhoni would probably want to rest Zaheer and give Munaf or Balaji or Kulkarni (If available for ODI’s) a chance as it will help him to decide on the third seamer for the first test.

I guess Ishant will still play as he looked very rusty in the 4th game. The batting though will be interesting but I would assume that Dhoni and Kirsten would not want to make too many changes in the squad. The Kiwis confidence has been dented in the ODI’s and India would want to leave it that way. Any let up in pressure would give the hosts enormous confidence for the upcoming test series. The Indians though would want to guard against complacency which could creep into their games.

In the past year or so they have not been that good in the dead rubbers. In Srilanka last year the Indians were leading 3-1 going into the final game and lost badly chasing a modest target. Earlier this year they repeated the same mistake as after leading 4-0 they let up the pressure in the final game. This series though is not just about the ODI’s but since the test series is just around the corner the Indians would want the New Zealanders to be under constant pressure to win.

This has been yet another great series for the Indians but there have been some flaws which were eclipsed by the batters. The fielding has been very poor, catches have gone down at crucial times, bowling has lacked discipline but in spite of that they have won which should give the team confidence. But to be at the top Gary Kirsten needs to work on ironing out the flaws. The Indian one day team is made of youngsters and should not be having any issues with fielding.

The New Zealand captain though would be looking for a win to end the series. They have been battered to submission by the Indian batting but would want to end the series on a high. The test series is just around the corner and a win here would give the team a lot of confidence. Vettori would know that and would want to reverse the trend a little bit. The key for the home team to win is to bowl with more discipline and get rid of the Indian openers fast which they haven’t been able to do since the Twenty20 games.

Once they do that the Indian middle order will be under pressure and would have to consolidate. Lets hope that this game is also as exciting as the previous ones and I am predicting an Indian win again.

Familiar start for the Indians in NewZealand

Rohit Sharma fails to latch on to a skier of the last ball of the second T20 International at Wellington on Friday as Indian went down by 5 wickets

Rohit Sharma fails to latch on to a skier of the last ball of the second T20 International at Wellington on Friday as Indian went down by 5 wickets

The Indians lost both the Twenty20 games to start the series against the Kiwis on a familiar note on an overseas tour. The Indian batsmen did not show the required application on the NewZealand pitches in spite of being in great form. Most of the batsmen got off to a good starts only to throw away the same due to rash strokes. But nothing should be taken away from the kiwis as they kept a level head in chasing two modest totals set by the visitors without much trouble.

The Indian bowlers though tried hard in vain to defend the targets set by their batters. This is the worst possible start for an important series like this for the Indian team and Dhoni would be aware of the same. He knows that India have to get back to winning ways soon as a bad performance in this series will be a huge setback for their quest to become the best team in the world.

Dhoni and Kirsten will at least be happy with the fact that the batsmen dont look out of form but their lack of application is which cost the team both the games. Dhoni said that he is looking at the positive side of the things after these losses but if this continues it will be difficult for him to keep doing the same.

I am sure that the coach and the captain will have some hard things to say to the batters and get them performing consistantly in the upcoming one day series. The one-day side will be slightly different to the Twenty20 team which played at wellington and Christchurch as Sachin Tendulkar will be back in the equation.

In all probability Sachin will open with Sehwag with Ghambir dropping down to number 3 in the batting order. Yuvraj, Raina and Rohit Sharma will form the middle order and I guess Munaf will return to join Zaheer and Ishant. The One-day series will be exciting and India would want to get back to winning ways.