Recently during my visit to Chennai, I had dinner with a friend at the Madras Gymkhana Club at the end of Mount road. During dinner he mentioned that he was surprised that people were talking of Gary Kirsten as a demi God. He asked ‘would India have not won the cup if Gary was not the coach?” I wish to ask all the sundry writers and commentators whether India would have not won the cup if say an Indian coach like Mohinder Amarnath was at the Helm.
Why do we need a foreign coach? Perhaps it is rooted in the Indian psyche as having been ruled by the white racee for over 190 years, we feel that a foreigner may be better than an Indian. By foreigner I mean white coach. Can any one think that a black man can be a coach of the Indian team? Probably not, thus we have a string of white coaches for the last 15 years or more. Some like Greg Chappell for all his great player status actually caused dissension in the Indian team. Under him India lost to Bangladesh in the last world cup in the West Indies and was booted out of the tournament.
If one has a look around no country, I mean a major playing country has a foreign coach. Our neighbor Pakistan dispensed with a foreign coach after the demise of bob Woolmer and so is Lanka. Can anyone imagine that though Australia is not the cricketing force it was, can have a foreign coach. No way, as the Australian pride would go against it.
Foreign Coaches for the Indian team is frankly an anachronism. There is no dearth of cricketing brains in India. Remember to be coach one need not have been a great cricket player himself, as was proved by the previous cricket coach of Australia Buchanan. In India we have the shrewdest cricket brains with men like Ashok Mankad, Mohinder Amarnath and Venkatraghavan, not forgetting BS Bedi. But some how the powers that are in Indian cricket cannot condone an Indian coach. The surprising news is that the senior Indian players prefer a foreign coach. This is difficult to understand. Perhaps one of the reasons is that a shrewd Indian coach may not give too much latitude to these players and thus with a foreign coach they can have their say.
Gary Kirsten in my opinion did no miracle. He was just plain lucky as the Indian team after 7 decades of test cricket has peaked as a cohesive unit. Gary only sat at the helm and even if he was not the coach India would have won. For in the middle it is the team that plays and not the coach.
Many great Indians during the freedom movement talked of swadeshi or India. To give a go by to that thought should not be accepted. A foreign coach can come in only if there is paucity of local talent, which is not the case in India with men like Amarnath being kept on the side lines. Perhaps somebody will pick up this challenge as well and the foreign coaches will be consigned to the flames. The defats in England and Australia may just spur the board to act