An eye out on the silent plotters
'Ladies and Gentlemen, day one of the first Test begins. Thank you and welcome to the Lord's.' While the much anticipated 2000th Test has highly followed cricketers pitted against one another, there are two master-minds here who have managed to slip away from the spotlight with intentional success.
'Ladies and Gentlemen, take your seats and maintain decorum. Day one of the first Test begins. Thank you and welcome to the Lord's.'
While the much anticipated 2000th Test has highly followed cricketers pitted against one another, there are two master-minds hereÂ who have managed to slip away from the spotlight with intentional success.
For all the talks of Sachin's 100th international ton, India beating England, England chasing the Number 1 spot and the battle of the pacers, there are the two coaches that seem to be hard at work without much fuss or the need of it.
There is India's relatively new coach in Duncan Fletcher on the one side of the war-zone. The English media, as small side-stories of course, have already welcomed him back (with suspicious and typically pursed upper lips) as the 'the man who made England has returned.' That this will be his 100th Test match as head coach of a side has calmly disguised itself from any attention.
Fletcher, for all the drum-rolls during his appointment as India coach, has shaded himself in the silhouette of a World Cup winning team. Now whether it's part of who he really is or because he took over a side that had already tasted and gulped down from the cup of ultimate cricketing glory, would take an interview to ascertain. What is certain though is India has never been in need of a dictatorial, highly visible, very vocal and limelight-crazed coach (to also be read as Greg Chappell).
What is heartening is that he looks active during India's training sessions, and gives the feeling of being a silent worker, much like his predecessor in Gary Kirsten. That he is former England coach is also expected to work in favour of India although dynamic as cricket is, each day is different and dependent on individual brilliance carved into a team's crevices.
And now the man who took England to new heights must do the opposite and plot its downfall.
The man who stands in Fletcher's way to undo his own doing goes by the name of Andy Flower. This England team director, beginning his second innings with the side, has a lethal reputation proven by the factÂ that he was BCCI's first choice before ECB pinned him down with greater rewards.
As team director, Flower mentored the side to an Ashes win in Australia which for the Barmy Army at least, would be a greater feat than the World Cup itself. Not that England under him do not have a world title. The force exerted to lift the ICC T20 World Cup in 2010 was crushing enough. Flower though, has not an iota of a crushing personality. Experts, former and present cricketers along with commentators and officials who have had interactions with him, largely regard the Zimbabwean as a soft-spoken man with a vision.
So when India take on England in the opening Test at the Lord's, for all the hype ofÂ individual records, team-rivalries, player-vs-player comparisons and past records, there will be two generals lurking in the backdrop of the home of cricket, plotting tactical moves to inflict merciless defeat on each other, in perfect contrast to their otherwise genial and unassuming nature.