Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Former England captain Alec Stewart has announced that India head coach Duncan Fletcher cannot be blamed for the national team’s 3-1 hammering at the hands of England in the recently concluded five-Test series.
During the final Test at The Oval, India were pummelled by an innings and 244 runs, which is their third-largest loss in Test history.
“Duncan is the best coach I have worked under,” Stewart said. “He was England coach when I was finishing my playing career. He is a good coach and I think he has been good for India. Fletcher cannot bat for the Indian batsmen. He can pass all the knowledge he has gained but the batsmen hold the bat and they make decisions on the field.
“Gautam Gambhir’s run-out before lunch is not Fletcher’s fault. Chasing wide balls, playing wrong lines and getting out is not Fletcher’s fault. Coaches coach and prepare the players. Players prepare and perform. And the Indian players haven’t performed.”
Stewart also noted that India simply self-destructed after their 95-run win in the second Test at Lord’s.
“As good as India were at Lord’s in conditions tailor made for England, the home side pressed the self destruct button themselves in that match,” he said. “And India were very good in taking advantage of that. Since then England have been brilliant as the roles were reversed.
“Look, I am a huge fan of Virat Kohli. And I really admire Cheteshwar Pujara. They have other good batsmen as well, someone like Murali Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane. But I haven’t seen the application or their technical aspect of the game to cope with the moving ball and that has what cost India.”
Stewart was also disgusted with India’s batting display, particularly in the last two Tests, where they failed to even make 200 in each innings.
“India’s bowling has been quite decent,” Stewart said. “Upfront they missed Ishant Sharma when he was injured. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is an English-type of bowler but the itinerary of five Tests meant that he had to do the majority work and eventually he got tired. So it comes down to the Indian batsmen.
“They have made mistakes and haven’t applied themselves. They haven’t looked to improve against the moving ball. And when you get small totals on the board, good luck to the bowlers because they know they have to bowl the opposition out for a par-score.
“If you gamble to take wickets you might bowl too many bad balls and that’s what has happened. The Indian batting is highly talented and must be asked why they haven’t been able to face the likes of Anderson and Broad.”
Serious technical flaws saw numerous Indian batsmen throw their wickets away. One issue was that they were continuously poking at deliveries outside the off-stump, while the other major problem was their lack of foot movement.
“India are the power house of world cricket,” Stewart said. “Financially they run the game but they look at more of the shorter versions of the game instead of trying to be number one in all forms of the game and maintaining that.
“Five Test matches in England is a big thing for both sides but India have got to be competitive not just in home conditions. They have to look outside and test themselves in Australia, England and South Africa, and get used to the moving and bouncing ball.
“Because the Indian team consists of such talented players that it won’t take too long to adjust. If they only do it only now and then it makes difficult for those players to perform.”