When MS Dhoni retired from Test cricket in December 2014 the Indian Test team was in shambles.
By now, everyone agrees that T20 cricket is a different sport compared to Test cricket.
The team composition, approach and winning methods are different. However, thus far India has gone with the same team management for all forms of their cricket. This one-size-fits-all approach must change, and I have some suggestions in this regard.
Specialised coaching staff
BCCI has announced Rahul Dravid as the head coach for the Indian men’s team. So, BCCI is sticking to the top coach position being the same for all forms of cricket. However, Rahul should bring an assistant coach well-versed in T20 and white-ball cricket coaching and strategy. The assistant coach must get a batting, bowling, fielding and data analysis team focused on white-ball cricket.
Having a white ball-focused coach will allow Rahul to build a specialised T20 or white-ball coaching staff under this assistant coach.
The skills and insights required to succeed in white-ball cricket are entirely different from those in Test cricket. For example, Test cricket requires excellent close-in and slip fielding skills, while T20 cricket requires top-class boundary fielding skills. To expect the same fielding coach to be an expert in both types of fielding and catching is not practical.
Ravindra Jadeja is a great outfielder but an ordinary slip catcher. If one can’t expect all-around expertise from an athlete such as Jadeja, how can you expect the same level of insights from any fielding coach? The same applies even more to complex skills such as batting and bowling.
In addition to the skill requirements, considering India’s year-round schedule, it is hard for support staff to switch on and between different game forms.
General manager (GM) for white-ball cricket
BCCI should create a GM position whose only job is to put the team together for T20 and one-day international cricket. The GM of the Indian white-ball team should have the GMs of all IPL teams reporting to them to ensure that the pipeline for the Indian white-ball team is well-oiled.
Talent scout is another role that is required in the management team. The Indian talent scout should work in unison with the IPL talent scouts sharing knowledge and helping unearth the best talent for IPL and the national team.
The GM and his team should be accountable for the team’s on-field performance attributable to the team’s skills.
Different captains and vice-captains
We see progressive teams like England adopt different captains for the white ball and Test cricket. When the teams are different, and the game is different, it is a big ask of the same person to lead all forms of cricket.
The case for having separate captains for India has been there since MS Dhoni’s times. India’s results in Test cricket, particularly away, were dramatically different from those achieved in white-ball ICC tournaments. We see the same divergence, albeit in another way, in the performance of the Indian team under Virat Kohli.
One cannot blame MS Dhoni or Kohli for not producing consistent results across all formats when the two forms of the game are so different. It is time for BCCI to accept this reality and chalk out a different on-field management team for white-ball cricket.
I read on Twitter that Rohit Sharma is most likely to take over as the captain of India’s T20 and ODI teams. If this is true, I hope the choice is made because of a thought process to have two different captains. In this age where other teams are working hard to move white-ball cricket far away from Test cricket, an Indian captain can’t cope with the needs of all forms of cricket and manage the expectations of all the stakeholders.
The BCCI must move with time and develop a management setup focused on white-ball cricket. Without such a management structure, the results produced by the team will be not because of the management quality but despite it.