Not long back, it seemed, cricket had no time or use for coaches. Cricket then was ruled and run by strong captains who called the shots and took key decisions. In the era of Clive Lloyd, Ian Chappell, Sunil Gavaskar, Imran Khan one had to be a brave man to suggest a power shift away from the captain, let alone appoint someone with authority.
All of them were benevolent dictators who tolerated no dissent or disagreement - all also had complete contempt for anyone holding the position of a coach.
Since those days, much has changed, cricket has moved on, the training and preparation of teams has advanced dramatically. Basic to this new thought is the arrival, and entrenchment, of a football style supermo who at one level assists the captain by relieving him off mundane responsibilities and, at the same time, participates actively in strategising and team selection.
This dual control, some still feel, is fraught with danger. In their opinion, it is similar to two people driving a car, an act that can only lead to a messy bust up. It is, they are certain, a disaster waiting to happen.
There is reason to believe that this is possible, and the captain/senior player and coach relationship can turn rocky. Look at some examples:
In India, Greg Chappell and Sourav Ganguly had what can not be termed a happy marriage.
In Australia, what Shane thought of Buchanan can't be printed!
In England, Andy Flower and KP had a raging row that shook the foundations of English cricket.
In New Zealand, Ross Taylor had a bitter fallout with coach Mike Hesson.
And now, in the latest episode of this on-going drama, is the homework issue of the Australian team.
Reacting to the turbulence,and turmoil, caused by bossy coaches, former Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga could hardly conceal his glee. The captain, he first announced, is the boss who must take all decisions, and then added the killer punch. If I had my way, said Sri Lanka's World Cup winning captain, all support staff including the coach would not be in the dressing room but in a separate place altogether.
That is far fetched in the context of contemporary cricket, but a quick review of coaches across the world shows they are feeling the heat. Micky Arthur admitted he put his job on the line by acting against the players. Duncan Fletcher has secured an extension, narrowly escaping the axe after defeats overseas and a shocking loss to England at home. In Pakistan, the chorus for change is getting louder as the team lurches to successive setbacks in South Africa.
Maybe, this anti coach feeling is the result of excessive expectations. Coaches, as the saying goes, are only as good as the players/teams. Surely, that is correct because even Gary Kirsten and Andy Flower put together can't make Bangladesh a top side.
There is need to understand that the coach is neither a technical wizard, nor a magician who can guarantee success. He is a faciliater and a manager who prepares the team, takes the off field load off captain/players and creates the right environment for them to give their best.
The coach is not responsible for Pujara's hundreds, or for the continued misery of Australians against spin.