DUBAI: With a packed international calendar and three different formats jostling for relevance and financial viability, cricketers have already started to pick and choose their formats.
Quinton de Kock abruptly called it quits in Test cricket earlier in the year and Ben Stokes ruffled a lot of feathers when he decided to give up ODIs last month. As international cricket faces a threat from proliferating T20 leagues, no doubt the players are bearing the brunt of the unrelenting schedule. It’s clear that cricket is slowly headed towards three types of international players to suit each format of the game, leading to another question: should coaches too pick their formats?
Former India cricketer turned coach Sridharan Sriram, who is a technical consultant to the Bangladesh team for the Asia Cup and T20 World Cup, feels the time will soon come when format-specific coaching will become the norm.
“I have worked with Australia for a bit and am also coaching in the IPL with Royal Challengers Bangalore. Coaching 365 days is very difficult. I don’t know what the world is moving towards. I think it takes a lot of coordination to get different coaches for different formats. It’s hard to do all-format coaching for 365 days, that’s for sure. Just like international players, coaches too have to find the right balance,” Sriram said.
England have already demarcated their coaching personnel. Brendon McCullum is in charge of the Test team while Mathew Mott is looking after the white-ball team. Teams have experimented with split-captaincy for a while now but as T20s are pulling away from traditional methods, it could be time for specialist coaches.
Sriram empathises with Team India head coach Rahul Dravid. “Hats off to Dravid. It is even more difficult for players like him who have been on the road, dealing with pressure and expectation for such a long time as a player. To come back and do it as a coach, I am sure he is finding it hard,” he said.
The Indian cricket board (BCCI) too is aware of the challenges of having only one set of support staff members travelling year-round. Dravid was given a break after the West Indies tour and VVS Laxman has been the designated sub for such circumstances. The pressure of coaching the Indian team aside, the prospect of being on the road becomes a major hurdle. And then there are IPL franchises matching the remuneration for a three-month gig.
These are all indications that the coaching fraternity could well be following the example set by established cricketers.