Kolkata:Appointing foreign coaches in Indian domestic cricket -- a trend started by the Punjab Cricket Association which roped in former Pakistan captain Intikhab Alam four years ago -- has now become "a fashion", feel miffed home-grown coaches and former players.
The PCA, in 2004-05, appointed the Pakistani as their coach-cum-manager for its Ranji Trophy team which set the ball rolling as Maharashtra Cricket Association followed suit, bringing in Darren Holder, who had the experience of working under former Australia coach John Buchanan.
For the forthcoming Ranji season (2008-09), Maharashtra have already appointed Shaun Williams, an Aussie who was with Bangladesh, while the PCA plans to bring back the Hoshiarpur-born 67-year-old Alam, who had worked with Punjab during the 2004-05 and 2005-2006 seasons and guided the team to Ranji finals.
There is news that Shane Warne's mentor Terry Jenner might replace Vijay Dahiya, who had coached Delhi to the Ranji Trophy triumph.
And former Indian coach Greg Chappell's association with the Rajasthan cricket is well-known.
As for the support staff, Bengal are hiring the services of Adrian Le Roux (the former South African trainer) while Baroda are planning to invite Australian team's fielding coach Mike Young.
Former India player, selector and coach Anshuman Gaekwad criticised the trend of bringing "foreigners" when Indian coaches like Dahiya have performed well excelling in "man-management and creating an environment for players to play responsibly".
"It's a funny proposition. Indian coaches have an upper hand in terms of understanding the boys and adapting themselves. Whereas, by the time foreign coaches read the players, know their habits and learn to communicate with them properly, one year is elapsed," Gaekwad said.
"Indians have enough cricket experience to know the game and teach the skills. Hiring foreign hand has become some sort of a 'fashion' nowadays.
"I'm not averse to foreign coaches but what I don't understand is that the association is mulling to replace a coach (Vijay Dahiya) even when he has helped you earn a Ranji title. By getting foreign hands, they expect the coach to get them two Ranji trophies in a season or what," quipped the 55-year-old.
Urging the Board to do something about it before it becomes a dangerous trend, Gaekwad said, "We've a pool of 30-odd BCCI Level-III coaches, they are qualified to the highest degree but most of them are unemployed. What is the point if you have coaches yet the associations seek the help from outside. Since the NCA programme is run by BCCI they should ensure that the qualified coaches get a job."
In the same vein, septuagenarian Chandu Borde, a former Test captain and ex-chairman of national selection panel, said from Pune: "I don't see any difference between the foreign and the Indian coaches. We are no less than them. Still the association prefers the foreign hand. I think it's the sub-continental mindset.
"Even the players' think the same way. Why don't England or Australia hire anybody from other countries?"
Borde, a former coach in the National Cricket Academy, said: "Technically, we're competent. GR Viswanath and I were called to NCA when Sunil Gavaskar at the helm for imparting coaching to the U-17 and 19 boys (Suresh) Raina, (RP) Singh and (Rohit) Sharma were from the same programme."
Having roped in Holder, one of the first foreign coaches in Indian domestic cricket, Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) president Ajay Shirke believes India doesn't have good hands when it comes to coaching.
"We don't have good coaches to teach at highest level, somebody who has wide experience as a coach. The NCA programme has started only recently. It will take some time till we have enough coach pool.
"Agreed we have a few Level-III coaches but they are yet to have hand on experience," Shirke, who took over as the NCA chairman after Kapil Dev was sacked from the post for signing up with the Indian Cricket League, said from UK.
"Maharashtra are one of the associations to rope in a foreign hand and we had excellent results. I don't subscribe to the fact that a good cricketer will have a good coach or a good umpire. A good coach is someone with vast technical knowledge having good communication skill and the ability to teach at the highest level," Shirke added.
Contrary to Shirke's claims, however, there have been instances when quite a few of the state teams have been coached by non-qualified coaches, but with results.
Bengal's Debu Mitra who coached Saurashtra to the Ranji Trophy semifinal and the Ranji Trophy One-dayers title was one among them.
Refusing to comment on the issue, NCA bowling coach Bharat Arun said, "India have good coaches but with time we'll have more coaches with vast experience."