Keeping the wins in the previous two ODIs aside, the string of defeats led to suggestions from various quarters that Team India needs an Indian coach. Unfortunately, cricket has absolutely nothing to do with caste, colour, creed and nationality of the mentor. It's a simple fact that most are surprisingly giving a miss.
The argument that the team needs an Indian coach would be valid if several members of the side found it hard to communicate with a foreign coach in a foreign tongue. The rise of players from the grass-root levels and the heartland of the country may indeed make this a valid point in which case, this write-up is defeated in its purpose. Otherwise, it seeks and begs to differ.
Individual merit of individuals cannot be subjected to his nationality. To this author at the very least, it is better to have a maverick foreign coach who infuses energy into a team than have a coach who may be speaking the same language but nobody is really listening! Of course, someone who speaks the same tongue, has superb credentials and has a persona which commands players to play their best and enjoy every minute of doing so, would be the ideal choice. Is it then not better to just say we need a capable man and not necessarily an Indian?
Another point raised in favour of having an Indian coach for the team is that a former cricketer who has played in this team and at the domestic level, is the best because he recognizes challenges, works against identified limitations and is a hardened veteran in the not-so-subtle nuances of sub-continental cricket. Even former skipper Sourav Ganguly said he is not a big fan of the 'obsession' to get foreign coaches.
While the arguments above hold a sizable amount of water, it has contradictory points imbibed within.Â If an Indian understands Indian cricket best, how and why did a South Africa take an Indian team to a World Cup win and earn sky-high stacks of praise, respectively? Why then was there a clamour to rope in Andy Flower as the coach - someone who is credited to have transformed England's national team? What made John Wright earn the title of being one of India's most remembered coach? And Greg...well...never mind Greg Chappell!
A very vital point here is also the fact that in diversity lies our unity.Â While many may not want to broach on this sensitive topic, there is no denying the possibility of having a coach from a zone from where the maximum players in the team are. Is it to only this author or does the very concept of something like this being suggested too, seems utterly ridiculous? Then again, problem of communicating as mentioned above, can exist in such a scenario too, albeit slightly lesser.
Cricket is a complex game if one carefully carves it out to be. Otherwise, it has certain basic tenants which, if followed, do not guarantee success but at least improves the chances. And the nationality of a coach is definitely not one of these tenants. Bring someone who has the statistics to back his selection, an ability to keep the team focused, a plan to bring out the best from the other support staff members and most importantly, a capacity to take criticisms and convert it to his and the team's advantage on the field.
Major international teams, their coaches and their brief current state:
England: Ashly Giles from England (T20s and ODIs) and Andy Flower from Zimbabwe (Tests) - While Giles has tasted two massive defeats in his first tour as coach, Flower has been a prolific mentor for the team.
Australia: Mickey Arthur from South Africa - Arthur has been a vocal advocate of the rotation policy of Cricket Australia. Performance with the team has been well above average with recent Test success at home vs Sri Lanka.
Zimbabwe: Alan Butcher from England - Zimbabwe is a team trying its best to return to some semblance of form but it's a work in progress. Butcher, some say, has his hands tied.
Bangladesh: Richard Pybus from England - Is preserving the team's fighting spirit and ability to stun stronger opponents.
Pakistan: Dav Whatmore from Australia - It is not easy, some say, to coach Pakistan. Whatmore is no alien to sub-continental teams and with the support of Inzamam and others, has shown he can inspire the side.
Sri Lanka: Graham Ford from South Africa - The team has been at the receiving end of recent defeats and criticisms which may or may not always have Ford getting the brickbats.
Coach of same nationality:
South Africa: Gary Kirsten - This team is like a raging bull and has a superb matador steering its rampage.
New Zealand: Mike Hesson - Accused for his alleged role in having Ross Taylor sacked and replacing him with Brendon McCullum. Kiwis thrashed recently by South Africa.
West Indies: Ottis Gibson from Barbados - Mentored West Indies to WT20 title. Period!
Clearly then, there is no set principle that a foreign or a coach of the same nationality can ensure success and improve a team by miles.
Note: The views expressed above are solely of the author and may or may not be that of NDTV