Where is Duncan Fletcher? Well, this is not a question for the officials of the Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI) but among them. None of the top board officials have a clue as to where the India coach is, rather when he will return to India.
The board officials are hoping Fletcher would witness the Irani Trophy match but they have no information from the chief coach. “He has not sounded us out if he would be coming. As of today, he is expected here only in the first week of October,” said a senior board official. The Irani Trophy tie is scheduled to start on October 1 in Jaipur. India’s next international assignment is an ODI series against England which starts in Hyderabad on October 14.
“Ideally, he should be here for the Irani Trophy. It is an important domestic fixture. Please ask the secretary,” said another official without willing to be named. The secretary has no information where the coach is and if he would be here for the important season opener in which all the fringe players would be taking part. “We’re meeting on September 29 to select the team for the Challenger Trophy. Hopefully, we will get to know about his plans then,” said Sanjay Jagdale.
After the England series, the support staff, including bowling coach Eric Simons and fielding coach Trevor Penney, went their respective ways. Fletcher and Simons went back to South Africa and Penney left for Australia. Simons, however, returned to India and is currently in New Delhi. However, the board is not sure if the bowling coach will attend the Irani tie.
The chief coach, meanwhile, has not contacted the Board. He is believed to be in South Africa currently but could not be reached. He did not respond to messages from this paper.
“It should be part of his contract. The board should not allow the coach to stay away from Irani and Challenger Trophy fixtures,” Dilip Vengsarkar said. “The national coach’s duty is not just to handle 15 players. He has to have the first hand information on the fringe players. When they get picked for the national team, the coach would have some idea about them,” the former chief selector remarked.
According to him, the board should make it mandatory but it has let the coaches have their way. “Even Gary Kirsten and Greg Chappell avoided going to such matches. When we used to talk about young players like Virat Kohli, the coach would know nothing about him. They should be made part of the formation of our bench strength,” Vengsarkar commented.