'Coaching India a challenge for me'
All set for a "challenging" stint as India's cricket coach, Duncan Fletcher said he would advise rather then dictate his world champion wards, as a rigid approach will not work with the high-profile side.
"It is a difficult place to play. I think you have got to make sure that you offer advises. You don't be dictatorial in your approach. There will be players to accept certain advice on how hard to play in the sub-continent. You know sometimes it works and sometimes it does not work," Fletcher said, at his first press conference after being appointed coach, in Chennai on Friday.
"I do not think that there will be changes. It is not dictatorial in some degree and I think Gary Kristen followed my philosophy as he came and spoke to me before taking the Indian job", he said.
"I gave him a lot of advises as to how to handle situations and I think he took those on board. Gary was pushing me for the job and speaking to BCCI about my credentials. He realised that I have the right philosophy to coach India and I think, hopefully, he is right," he added.
Image: Duncan Fletcher
'No major changes in my plans for the team'
Fletcher's predecessor Kirsten left the job on a high after guiding the team to the World Cup title and earned respect for his calm demeanour. Kirsten was in sharp contrast to his predecessor Greg Chappell of Australia, who fell out with the players due to his authoritative style of functioning.
Fletcher, who coached England before this assignment, guiding them to a memorable Ashes triumph in 2005, has already had a chat with Kirsten on how to go about the new job.
"I had a check with Gary when I was in Capetown, I had a meeting with him and also had a meeting with Eric Simons. Together they have given some advises. I have checked with the other sides and noticed that they all work differently. Coaching the Indian team is a new challenge for me," he said.
The Zimbabwean starts his tenure with the tour of the West Indies next month but he has been observing his new wards for quite a while.
"At the moment it is very important that people must appreciate as I am just coming in there are not going to be any major changes. I have checked with Gary and I saw their performance in the IPL too. I have got some ideas but I got to make sure that I make my observations and make changes, if necessary," he said.
Image: Duncan Fletcher in England colours
'One cannot have a dictatorial role'
Asked whether he fears any ego clashes with the top stars of the team, Fletcher replied, "I have handled big players elsewhere as well. I think you have got to develop man-management. The first thing is that you have got to gain their respect and they have got to gain my respect.
"Once that respect is gained, it makes your job easier. Sometimes watching these players off the field and quietly just observing, interests me. Hopefully, what I have learnt I can put in to good effect with the Indian side," Fletcher said.
Recalling the time he was first approached for the job, the 62-year-old said it took him four days to make up his mind.
"I had asked for a few days before deciding. I took four days to settle down and realise the consequences, as in such a high profile job in some areas you have got to be careful of them. I just went back and thought about it to know that I am really excited about and made a few phone calls to people, including Gary, and accepted the job," he revealed.
Image: Duncan Fletcher with the England team when he was coach
'I've had fairly good results in sub-continent conditions'
Asked how his equation with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni could shape up in the coming days, Fletcher said he is excited about working with one of the most successful captains in international cricket right now.
"...even before I was offered this job, I had high regard for M S Dhoni. I thought Dhoni is a captain of high standing not only for his skill but on-field handling of the players. It is exciting to work with Dhoni. I am really looking forward to it," he said.
Fletcher said the immediate challenge is to keep up the momentum that has gathered after the World Cup triumph.
"It is a challenge. As I said that with the players that they have got, the captain that they have got and the senior players they have got, they could maintain their momentum. Hopefully, I can add some value somewhere along the line," he said.
He said understanding Indian culture would not be too big an issue.
"The challenge is in coaching. I have spoken with Gary Kristen and Eric Simmons and they understand that I got a philosophy that will work with the players. It is the philosophy that is required for India. It was the same when I went to England as there was certain challenges that people warned me about," he said.
On whether he is prepared for the intense media scrutiny that he will be subjected to here, Fletcher said having handled the aggressive English media, he was ready for the grind.
"While doing the job for England for eight years there was lot of scrutiny. It is an area where you have got to work and accept the part of the game," he said.
Image: Duncan Fletcher with former England captain Nasser Hussain