Former South Africa physio Craig Smith says it is unfortunate that India missed out on Graham Ford's services as coach of the national team.
Smith worked with Ford for a few years when the latter was coach of the South Africa team before both were sacked in 2002.
"The situation was not ideal then. South Africa didn't do well in a few matches. The management wanted a change, so they sacked Ford who was the coach and I also was forced to quit. They called me up to say that I was no longer the physio," Smith told rediff.com.
Incidentally, both he and Ford were sacked on the same day former captain Hansie Cronje died in a plane crash, on June 1, 2002.
"An hour after that I got the news that Hansie had died in accident," Smith recalled.
Smith stated Ford, who is renowned for his man-management skills, would have been the ideal coach for a team like India.
"I worked with Ford for a few years and I must say he is a very good coach. He is a good man manager and extremely hardworking. It would have been a huge plus for India had he signed up for them. It would have been very beneficial," said Smith, who is currently working as coach of English county club Nottinghamshire.
Ford was all set to take over the Indian job in June after meeting with BCCI officials, but after returning to his county, Kent, he promptly declined the offer.
Smith said he had discussed the Indian coaching job with Ford a few days back.
"I met him 10 days ago, when Nottinghamshire played against Kent. He said he had a chat with the Indian administrators and was very much interested in India's coaching job. But after talking to his family he decided he could not take up the offer," revealed Smith, who served the South African team for 11 years.
He also said the Indian team's fitness level has improved over the years and the players look quite strong now.
"They look a lot fitter than when I saw them a few years back when I toured India along with the South African team. I think it is because of the hard work put in by Andrew Leipus and Adrian Le Roux. I saw some of their young players, like R P Singh, and they really look very strong and fit," said Smith, who visited India in 1991, 1996 and 2000.
Smith believes that with the busy schedule of international cricket in recent years, it is very important for fast bowlers to look after their body.
"The fast bowlers spend a lot of energy because the nature of their bowling takes a lot from them. There is a lot of wear and tear involved in a fast bowler's action. That's why to be a successful fast bowler you need to be strong, prepare well, train well and work on your rehabilitation, otherwise you are bound to be injury prone," he said.
He also spoke highly of his Nottinghamshire team mate Ryan Sidebottom, who has made a huge impact since making a comeback into the England team earlier this year.
"Sidebottom is a fit guy. He has paid a lot of attention to his bowling and fitness. He spends a lot of time in the gym and works on his strengths. He has bowled a lot of overs in county cricket since he was dropped from the team in 2001 and that has made him a better bowler. He is more mature now," Smith said.