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'Duncan Fletcher coaches very much like Kirsten'

Last updated on: April 28, 2011 10:25 IST

'He (Fletcher) coaches very much like Kirsten'

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Bikash Mohapatra

'He has got a good track record,' says former Australia ace Geoff Marsh. 'He has done well in the past, and will do very well with India as well!'

It came in as a surprising statement, to say the least, regarding someone who has been an equally surprising appointment.

Hours after the Board of Control for Cricket in India named Duncan Fletcher the new coach of Team India, surprising quite a few with their decision, Geoff Marsh, the man at the helm of debutant Indian Premier League outfit Pune Warriors, made an unexpected, albeit interesting, comparison.

"He (Fletcher) coaches very much like Gary Kirsten," said Marsh, when asked to describe the 62-year-old Zimbabwean coach.

The comparison is significant considering Fletcher will be taking over the reigns from someone who was, without doubt, the best coach Team India has had thus far, at least when it comes to results.


Image: Duncan Fletcher
Photographs: Reuters
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'It is a fantastic opportunity for him'

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Under Kirsten's tutelage, Team India achieved the top spot in the ICC Test rankings in November 2009 -- they have held on to it since -- and moved up to number two in the ODI rankings, with a plethora of successes.

The South African ended his three-year tenure on a spectacular note, guiding Team India to their first World Cup triumph in 28 years -- since that memorable, but unexpected, win in 1983.

And it will be anything but an easy assignment for his successor, who will be considerably weighed down by expectations.

Marsh though felt Fletcher's similar coaching style will work to his advantage in his new role.

"It is a fantastic opportunity for him," said the 53-year-old former Australia coach.


Image: Duncan Fletcher
Photographs: Reuters
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His most memorable win came as Zimbabwe captain in 1983

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Coming back to comparisons -- and that is inevitable if one considers the man he is succeeding -- suffice to say, Fletcher's record does not measure up to Kirsten's standards. And that is in no way demeaning the Zimbabwean's stature; rather, it is stating the obvious.

As a player, Fletcher played just six one-dayers, while leading Zimbabwe in the 1983 World Cup. His most memorable effort was his team's upset win over Australia in the competition -- he scored an unbeaten 71 and picked four wickets in that match. It need not be mentioned here that Kirsten has achieved a lot more as a player.

As a coach, though, Fletcher has achieved considerable success, leading England to the No 3 ranking in his eight-year tenure (from 1999 to 2007).


Image: Duncan Fletcher, captain of Zimbabwe, batting during the 1983 World Cup
Photographs: Getty Images
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'He has got a good track record'

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England's first foreign coach led them to their first Ashes triumph over Australia (in 2005) since 1987-88 besides ensuring them a first series win in the West Indies in 36 years.

The stats may yet again pale in comparison to the South African's, but, if Marsh is to be believed, Fletcher is the right man to take charge of Team India.

"He has got a good track record," reasoned the Australian, adding, "he has done well in the past, and will do very well with India as well."

Whether Fletcher makes an impression in his new assignment or gets weighed down by the burden of expectations will be clear in the next two years.

Or, may be, before that; all depends on his initial performances.


Image: Duncan Fletcher
Photographs: Getty Images
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