Why Sourav Ganguly is the best fit for the role of Team India director
With a team of assistant coaches, Dada could be a successful leader all over again.
It’s beginning to look more and more like a reality show. While the England and Wales Cricket Board took only two weeks to appoint Trevor Bayliss as coach Peter Moore’s successor, the Board of Control for Cricket in India have been dragging their feet on the issue of picking India’s new team director and coach. Ever since the loss in the World Cup semi-final, in fact. Duncan Fletcher is gone, but who will replace him?
Unlike the relative transparency in English, South African or Australian cricket, Indian cricketing appointments are never without element of subterfuge. Official communication from the board is never clear, rumours get tossed around thick and fast, and leaks are the only way to figure out what exactly is going on.
There are some things, however, which seem borderline definite. First, that Sourav Ganguly, one of India’s most successful captains, and widely considered the purveyor of the can-win attitude in the team, is in contention to replace Ravi Shastri as team director. And, as ESPNCricinfo reports, there might not be a direct replacement for Fletcher as head coach, the BCCI may appoint three assistant coaches to complement the team director. The names being bandied about for these assistant coach roles are former icons like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid.
Is Dada a good bet for Team India?
With his unbridled aggression and never-say-die attitude, Sourav Ganguly led India to many famous victories and is hailed as the captain who taught India to win overseas. With this current Indian squad losing 17 out of their last 30 overseas Tests played since 2010, is Dada the right man to turn it around?
While Ganguly’s credentials as captain are never in doubt, there are questions about his coaching ability. Unlike Dravid or Tendulkar who have been mentors for Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians, respectively, Ganguly has been more involved in administrative duties since his retirement and has not really displayed much affinity towards coaching.
On the other hand, it could also be argued that with a good supporting team of coaches, Ganguly’s job would be more in line with the kind of role Ravi Shastri played – leaving the technical aspects to the coaches and ensuring that the team stays inspired and motivated. Players like Harbhajan Singh and Virender Sehwag have constantly lauded Ganguly for his motivational abilities and it would be a good position for Dada to be in, provided of course, his team of coaches can look after the technical side of things.
If Ganguly is appointed, another challenge for him would be the kind of relationship he forges with Virat Kohli, the current Indian Test captain. Both are similar temperamentally – they wear their emotions on their sleeves and are not afraid to show it on the field. The presence of two similarly passionate individuals in the team unit make the team implode. Ganguly could perhaps take a leaf out of John Wright’s book and be the kind of mentor to Kohli that Wright was to him, with great success.
Rahul Dravid would be a great addition
At the peak of his career, there were few like Dravid. His mental toughness and technical brilliance is the stuff of legend. Many great contemporaries of Dravid have remarked on the price that he used to place on his wicket, and how difficult it was to dismiss him.
At this juncture, this young Indian team needs that sort of mental toughness. And if there is any possibility of Dravid agreeing to coach India (and there is), the BCCI should leave no stones unturned to get him on board.
Dravid has already provided proof of his coaching credentials with the Rajasthan Royals and deserves every chance now to take up the mantle for Team India. His technical knowledge would be extremely useful for players like Suresh Raina or Shikhar Dhawan, who are not the best technically and have often been found wanting in overseas conditions.
Moreoever, it is his mental toughness which could create an environment of stability in this Indian cricket team. In the cauldron of intense expectation which follows the Indian team wherever they go, Dravid’s calmness would come as a balm to the team and would help them focus them squarely on the job at hand. Dravid’s tranquillity would be a great foil to Kohli and Ganguly’s aggressiveness.
There is also the question of whether to consider the Little Master for a coaching role. While Tendulkar has been an inspirational figure for the Mumbai Indians, it is not clear if he would prefer a similar role for India. Particularly since he is believed to be busy creating a T20 League for former superstars. While an Indian coaching set-up comprising Ganguly, Dravid and Sachin may seem like a dream team, it runs the risk of the players’ being overshadowed by the coaching team.
It is essential that the BCCI chooses its candidates properly and with due diligence. This Indian cricket team is at a critical juncture right now, and will need a coach who can harness the immense amount of raw talent the players possess. Whether the BCCI goes ahead with Ganguly, Dravid, Tendulkar or someone else, it must ensure that all appointments are taken out of cricketing considerations and nothing else.