India's bowling coach Eric Simons is keenly looking forward to working with Duncan Fletcher and says that for the former Zimbabwe captain, coaching the World champions will be a big challenge.
The 49-year-old South African, whose contract was extended by the Indian board Wednesday, told IANS that he expected Fletcher to bring in fresh ideas like the way he did when he was in charge of the England team. Fletcher coached England for eight years (1999-2007) and also led them to an Ashes victory after 15 years in 2005.
Simons will now be in charge of the Indian team for next month's tour of the West Indies as the 62-year-old Fletcher, now a British citizen, will join the team only after the series due to prior commitments.
"I have never worked with Duncan, so I am looking forward to working with him. I am sure he will bring in some fresh ideas to the team like he did during his English stint. But I think coaching the No.1 team in the world will be a real challenge for Fletcher," said Simons, who was appointed the bowling coach in January 2010.
Simons and his compatriot Gary Kirsten, the former India coach, forged a successful partnership that saw India becoming the No.1 Test team and winning the 2011 World Cup after 28 years. Simmons also played a key role in India's success in South Africa, where they drew the Test series for the first time.
On his extension, Simons said: "I had agreed in principle to continue as the bowling coach. Now that they have agreed to give me an extension, I have to sit down with them and discuss the nature of the contract and the tenure."
Simons admitted that looking at India's stature in world cricket, his job will only get tougher.
"These are exciting and tough times for me. The last one year has been great for me and now the job has become tougher. The challenge will be to keep the team on top. The expectations are always high from World champions and living up to them will be a challenge for this Indian team," said Simons, who coached the South African team for two years (2002-04).
Simons, however, is concerned about the form of the fast bowlers in the Indian Premier League (IPL) ahead of a hectic international calendar that also involves a tour to England for four Test matches in July-August.
"Conditions are tough for Indian bowlers on pitches which heavily favour batsmen. I think we have to ensure that we have enough bench strength ahead of the two series so that we can rotate our bowlers. In the modern era, you always need a group of bowlers since you can't always rely on your main bowlers to be fit," said Simmons.
Asked if his bowlers need to cut down on the amount of cricket they play to stay fit, Simons said: "That is a personal choice, I can't say much about it. My job is to give them confidence. When you're confident you can run in and bowl quickly in good areas, they can play as much as they want."