Never-ending mystery of foreign coaches

Success as a coach for another country does not guarantee success as an IPL coach as the dynamics of the IPL are dictated, to a great extent, by the local Indian players.

Point to ponder: Mumbai Indians all-rounder Kieron Pollard and other team-mates having a word with bowling coach Shane Bond at a training session during the Indian Premier League. “For India to have a talent pool of coaches, it’s not just important but imperative that the assistant coaches jobs should go to Indians in the Indian Premier League and not to a foreigner,” says the author.   -  K. V. S. Giri

Flight restrictions because of the Covid pandemic meant that the return from South Africa to India was via UK. For those who live in Mumbai experiencing the freezing weather can be fun but only for a short time especially if you have travelled to UK from South Africa where the hot weather had burnt some skin.

What the mini break did was to give a slightly more detailed look at what’s happening in the English Premier League. Outside England you get to know more of what the top teams are doing, but in England the newspapers carry a multitude of pages on the entire tournament and so not just the top six teams but also the bottom four get a lot of print space. So the news that was hot last week was the possibility of the return of the former England team manager Roy Hodgson to Watford in an effort for the bottom-four placed team to save relegation. Now Hodgson, to the best of my very limited football knowledge, had done a decent job as England manager but had no trophies to show for his efforts. England, of course, haven’t won anything since the World Cup in 1966 though reading their media it feels as if they will win every football game that they play.

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The return of Hodgson to manage a low-ranked team like Watford did make one think of how, in football, there is a merry-go-round of managers who go from one team to another with a small break inbetween. Even between the various leagues in Europe, the same managers keep moving around from one team in one league to another team in another league. Yes, there are some new faces that do come up like the just retired players — Frank Lampard, Steve Gerard and Wayne Rooney to name three — but it’s mostly the tried but not always trusted (since they get sacked so often) names that keep coming back.

The same seems to be happening with the teams in the Indian Premier League. There’s, of course, a big difference in the number of teams in the EPL and the IPL, but when you look back over the years, you find the same faces coming back as coaches of the teams. Even coaches whose contracts are not renewed because of the failure of their teams find themselves another franchise the following season or after a gap of a season or two. How suddenly from being failures they become beacons of hope for another franchise is beyond understanding. Networking and offering to work for lesser fees is one reason.

The foreign complex is another big reason for franchises to look at overseas coaches than Indian coaches. This despite the fully Indian support staff of Team India showing such impressive, outstanding results over the last half-a-dozen years or more at the international level and showing how capable Indian coaches are.

Of course, the silly conflict of interest rules mean that the integrity and non-partiality of the Indian coaches is doubted and so they cannot be attached to any franchise, while the coach or assistant coach of another country’s team can be lucratively employed by a franchise and thereby get first-hand information about the talent in Indian cricket. This information can be, and most definitely, used when they are back to their coaching jobs for their country.

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This is not against foreign coaches. Some of them like Stephen Fleming , Mahela Jayawardene, Ricky Ponting and, last season, Brendon McCullum, have brought all their playing experience into play and made a big difference to their franchise teams. This is also not to suggest that only top former players can make good coaches. This is just wondering how the coaches who fail with their franchises still find a way to be coaches or assistant coaches for another franchise soon after being sacked the previous year.

For India, to have a talent pool of coaches, it’s not just important but imperative that the assistant coaches jobs should go to Indians in the Indian Premier League and not to a foreigner who gets the experience that an Indian can do with.

Success as a coach for another country does not guarantee success as an IPL coach as the dynamics of the IPL are dictated, to a great extent, by the local Indian players. Who better then to know the domestic Indian players than an Indian? If not as coach then as a deputy coach.

I rest my case.

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